So, How Do I Feel About “The Lion King (2019)”?

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The Lion King (1994) is the greatest movie of all time. I’m not being facetious— I genuinely believe it is a perfect film. I used to watch it on repeat when I was little, a story my father still regales us with over two decades later. At 26, I still regard it as my favorite movie. It is, in short, the greatest movie ever made.

So my opinion, out of every opinion in the world, on the 2019 “live action” remake holds the most weight. Okay, this time I’m being facetious. Kind of. What I’m saying is I’m a Lion King aficionado and I have thoughts on the reboot.

I wouldn’t exactly call this post a review, per se. This is more of an opinion piece. While I’ve reviewed movies in the past, I honestly don’t feel all that qualified to do so. If you’ve noticed, I mainly only focus on story and character elements. You know, the same things you find in books. So this is not a review. Not totally.

You’re probably thinking, “Ren, quit stalling! Tell us what you think of the movie!” To which I say, settle down. I’m getting to it. So, how do I feel about The Lion King (2019)? Meh.

First of all, this


is not a live action remake. It’s all CGI. I don’t know why we keep calling it live action. Because it looks realistic? That doesn’t make it real. So I’m going to refer to it only as the 2019 remake. But this has been my stance all along, and not really a mark against the film.

In order to discuss The Lion King (2019) in a clear and concise way, I’m going to simply discuss what I liked and what I didn’t. And, so we can end on a positive note, I’ll start with my dislikes. In true Jenny Nicholson fashion, I’ll be sharing each as a numbered list.


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  1. I don’t like how Scar is portrayed. He’s too aggressive. Scar is supposed to be cunning and manipulative. He only resorts to violence and aggression when it’s his only option. But in the 2019 version, he is yelling and growling all the time.

New Scar also feels like less of a tyrant somehow. The only thing he seems to care about is hunting as much as he and the hyenas want. Original Scar has Zazu locked up, forbids everyone from mentioning Mufasa, and seems to be going a little mad. The fact that he desires power but doesn’t know how to wield it is a core part of his character. But New Scar has a pretty tight leash on everything.

Making New Scar want Sarabi as his queen and having once fought Mufasa for her is supposed to make his character more well-rounded, but instead takes away from his character. Scar doesn’t love anyone— he kills his own brother and tries to kill his nephew. All he cares about is being the one with all the power. Why would he want to share that? It makes no sense.

  1. None of these characters have any expressions. I won’t spend too much time on this since this talking point has been talked to death, but it really does come at a detriment to the film. The animators wanted to make everything look realistic, I get that. But it’s a movie about talking animals. We’ve passed the point of realism here.

The issue isn’t just the weird disconnect between speech and expression. It actively robs the emotion from pivotal scenes. I usually cry when Mufasa dies, but it was difficult to empathize with an affectless Simba. I didn’t tear up until he curled up next to Mufasa (and then New Scar ruined the scene).

I also cry usually during the scene at the end where Simba walks up Pride Rock to take his place as king. I felt nothing during this scene in the remake. Where is Simba’s determination? Where is Rafiki’s pride? Where is the lioness’ awe? I got nothing from anybody and it sucked.

  1. They extended some scenes for seemingly no reason. And I don’t mean significant scenes. The scene of the mouse that Scar catches in the beginning of the film is extended. We watch that mouse run around for like two full minutes before Scar shows up.

The other extended scene is when Simba’s fur blows off and reaches Rafiki. This takes mere seconds in the original. In the 2019 remake, this scene takes four to five minutes. For a large chunk of screen time, you’re just watching a ball of fur travel across the Serengeti. Nobody needed that. Nobody. They just wanted to show off their CGI animation.

  1. WTF was “Be Prepared”? I am almost offended by what they did with the song. They cut most of it and, again, made Scar far too aggressive while singing it. I assume they trimmed it down and altered it because Chiwetel Ejiofor isn’t a singer, but they also could’ve hired someone who can sing or dubbed him. They made all the wrong choices in the arrangement of this song.

  1. The hyenas are now a rival gang/secondary villains. This is a really strange choice because now there’s too many conflicts. The lions and hyenas are rivals, but also not really because the lions have all the power. Shenzi is now the leader of the hyenas, but I guess also Scar’s minion. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  1. Sarabi feels like a completely different character. She doesn’t stand up to Scar, except to tell him she won’t be his queen. All her spunk has been removed. Because of how she defies him in the original, the implication is she, Nala, and the other lionesses are all in cahoots. In insisting they remain in the Pridelands, New Sarabi effectively removes all support for Nala who now acts alone.


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  1. The way Scar lured Simba into the gorge was a little better. I mean, not by much, but still. In the original, Scar says he has a surprise for Simba and throws in as an aside that he should practice his “little roar.” In the remake, Scar takes Simba down to the gorge to “find his roar.” He tells Simba everything he wants to hear, including that Mufasa once did this too and everyone will see Simba as a grown up.

The down side to this is that we lose Scar’s iconic line, “Simba, it’s to die for.” So, a point for some excellent manipulation on New Scar’s part, but a demerit for his lack of dramatic irony.

  1. Timon and Pumbaa. That’s it, just Timon and Pumbaa. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan bring these characters to life in a way that is familiar, yet fresh. They infuse this movie with the humor it is largely missing up until they appear. They are, hands down, the best part of this film. So many hilarious one-liners and great banter. Apparently a lot of it was improv too. These two really saved the film for me.

  1. The shot-for-shot remake scenes are everything. I know the point of remaking a movie is to bring something new to the table, but these scenes felt like coming home. I just… I really liked ‘em, man.


Despite having way more things I disliked than liked, I found the film to be overall fine. Well, more like mediocre. There was no reason to remake this film because, unlike other Disney films, there were no questions that needed to be answered. This remake adds nothing to the story or the canon. But hey, at least it’s better than The Lion Guard (which is not canon).

Have you seen The Lion King (2019)? What did you think of it? Let’s have a discussion in the comments!

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12 thoughts on “So, How Do I Feel About “The Lion King (2019)”?

  1. I just saw the new Lion King this afternoon. I pretty much agreed with your assessments. I took a few notes…

    First note: Go to adult movies in the afternoon; go to kids’ movies at night.

    Second note: I had a problem with how very human these animals are. I saw very little of animals in these animals. There could have been at least subtle shades of the real qualities of the various species.

    Third note: There was too little of Africa in this story: It is all based on a European model of monarchy, not necessarily a model to perpetuate in the minds of the kids who are the intended audience.

    Fourth note: No flies. This anchors that no matter how realistic the cgi, it is still a fantasy. Okay, this isn’t a real complaint. I don’t like looking at the massive numbers of flies that swarm on real lions.

    Fifth note: My impulse afterwards was to go straight home and watch THE GHOST IN THE DARKNESS, about the man-eating lions of Tsavo… and David Attenborough’s AFRICA series.

    What I liked most were the visuals, and the music. And the lion roars are awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting point. African monarchies even going back tens of thousands of years ago are a lot different. If the king dies, and they need to find a successor, it doesn’t automatically go to the son of the king. There are elders and council people who actually vote on who gets to be the next king based on their political strength and wisdom. Any male relative is up for it and it might go to an uncle, brother, or cousin. Funny how multiple African civilizations had a democratic way for leaders even before democracy would be a thing in European civilizations. Then again, African civilizations outside of Egypt aren’t talked about in school at least in America. I’ll also ignore the low-hanging fruit that stems from how The Lion King and Tarzan have clear problematic things about portraying Africa or who isn’t portrayed.


    1. Lion king 2019 live action remake is not Cannon! It is an alternate universe not connected to real lion king cannon


  2. Excellent points! I personally resolved not to watch this movie (I’m pretty against live-action remakes unless they have a new vision), but I’ve been watching reviews of this movie on Youtube, and they point out similar issues (lack of expressions, no point in remaking something that was already great).

    Also, random FYI: I watch Jenny Nicholson too. Hope she reviews this movie. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I needed this review! Unfortunately I haven’t seen it yet so I’m not really useful in terms of discussion, but all the things you criticized were things I was concerned about. So now, when (and if) I finally watch it, I’ll know what to expect. And it’s good to know there’s some redeeming qualities, too! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. It’s good to know how people are bashing this remake or at the very least saying it’s not as good as the original.

    I used to love the original film when I was a kid, but I abhor it as an adult. The Lion King is built on plagiarism and cultural appropriation. They ripped off the 60s anime Kimba the White Lion, trademarked the phrase “Hakuna Matata” which is a slap in the face to the Swahili-speaking cultures in Africa, and they stole South African Solomon Linda’s “Mbube” song with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Don’t even get me started with the racist implications of the hyenas. Shame how Disney never owned up to any of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s perfectly fair, though there is still a lot of debate over whether the makers of the film knew about Kimba or not. Not to defend Disney, since they are extremely corrupt. What corporation isn’t? And Disney has a history or burying their racist past. They like to pretend movies like Song of the South never existed, for one.

      I think it’s good to be critical of media, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. If you prefer the remake, that’s also okay. I still regard The Lion King as my favorite movie, even though it’s steeped in controversy and has elements worth criticizing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Watching Kimba was certainly mind-blowing on different levels like how the title character eats bugs, the scene with Caesar’s (Kimba’s murdered father) spirit talking to his son in the night sky, and the existence of Claw (original Scar) among other things. I do agree that other corporations are corrupt, but it annoys me how Disney gets a free pass for everything. It’s good to know you don’t defend what Disney did. Here’s a link with some receipts about the Kimba situation.

        Certainly, and I am critical of it. One of my blogs is actually a place where I review obscure movies, documentaries, anime, short films, etc. I haven’t seen the remake, so I should’ve made that clear nor do I want to see it. It does anger me how much Disney has done with this franchise and I had cases of Disney fans having bigoted views towards me by assuming people like me or darker are automatically like the hyenas. It is frustrating how certain fans automatically forgive Disney for these bad things, but wouldn’t do the same for any other company.

        Liked by 1 person

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