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What to know: A CGI masterpiece with a new twist to the story, sure to become another Disney classic.
Recommended age 10-18
118 minutes
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LION KING, THE (2019) cover image Click to play video trailer
The Lion King is a hilarious and entertaining new Disney movie! This work of art lives up to the original animated version of The Lion King in a new and engrossing way. If you are a fan of Disney or just love movies in general, you will be infatuated by this new incredible film.

This movie follows heir to the throne, Simba, as he learns about ruling his Kingdom in the heart of the African savanna. The king of the lions, Mufasa, wants nothing more than peace in the savanna and to protect his son. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. Mufasa's diabolical brother, Scar, is hungry for power and blood. This hairy beast will stop for nothing in order to obtain the throne. Simba and his new-found friends must act fast to put an end to his malicious uncle's plans.

There are a multitude of dazzling aspects in The Lion King, but the most stunning is the heavy and effective use of CGI. From the beginning to the end of the film, the computer-generated imagery creates animals that are incredibly realistic and authentic. This new lively take on a classic story is incredibly refreshing and engaging. Another factor I immensely enjoyed was the voice acting. Billy Eicher, who plays Timon and Seth Rogen, who plays Pumbaa, are absolutely hilarious. Every other line spoken from their mouths had me dying of laughter. Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor who plays Scar, is perfect for his role. He left the audience completely despising his character, which is perfect for a villain the caliber of Scar. The only moment in the film that is slightly disappointing is the song Hakuna Matata. I think it is too different from the original version and not as intriguing. On a separate note, the writers wrote a touching and adorable script. I was delighted by the father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa. The interactions and playful nature seen through their characters is heart-warming.

The Lion King reveals that bravery is an important attribute, but is only effective when executed in a selfless manner. This underlying message is valuable for our everyday lives. Parents should be aware that this film has a fair amount of violence.

I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend to kids ages 8 through 18. Make sure to check out this film when it pounces into theaters July 17, 2019. Trust me, you won't want to miss it.

By Brad M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The live-action adaption of The Lion King is bound to be a Disney classic. This CGI masterpiece brings a new twist to the story visually, as well as musically. The opening scene sets the tone for the whole movie, bridging the original animation with this new live action take, into one beautiful panoramic view of the film's setting. The entire film looks so realistic that it's almost like a nature documentary.

The well-known storyline hasn't changed much: Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is the head of his pride and the King of "all that the light touches" in the African Serengeti. His son, Simba, (the younger, JD McCrary and mature, Donald Glover) is brave, but mischievous. Simba's Uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is bitter and angry that Simba is the heir to his brother's throne. In order to get Mufasa and Simba out of the way, Scar manipulates the hyenas into joining forces. He then arranges an "accident" to kill Mufasa and take over the kingdom. Scar blames Simba for Mufasa's death, and Simba runs away--but it's Mufasa's love and wisdom that brings Simba back to assume the throne.

The intense and serious aspects, and the comedic scenes, come together to create a beautiful balance. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, bringing the comforting and strong tone we expect from the leader of the pride. His touching relationship with his son is the centerpiece of this film. Meanwhile, Ejiofor's, Scar, performs "Be Prepared" as a powerful villainous anthem, interpreting the character as very complicated and intense. Florence Kasumba's turn as Shenzi is also a fierce and threatening leader of her pack of hyenas.

The comedic acting is brilliantly funny. The comedy duo of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumba, are the highlights of the movie. Their playful banter brings a sharp wit to some of the most intense scenes in the film.

While hyenas Keegan Micheal Key and Eric Andre's dysfunctional comedy shone a spotlight on the hyena crew, John Oliver's Zazu was a funny take on Mufasa's right hand bird.

The real star of the show is the incredible CGI animation that brings these animals to life. Their expressions and movements are so realistic and animal-like, but the personification of these seemingly wild animals seems so natural. Cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel of The Right Stuff, and Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, make sure the entire movie was visually stunning.

The songs from the original movie feature heavily, and while they are performed and produced in a more pop-oriented way, the score is more sweeping and orchestral. Classics like " Can You Feel the Love Tonight?," and "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," are performed by pop stars Beyonc� and Donald Glover, and produced by Pharrell Williams. Hans Zimmer provides a dramatic score, that works with the feeling of the new film.

The message in this film is that we may doubt ourselves, but it's important to remember who we are, and that our friends and family can help remind us. There are some violent and intense scenes, so I wouldn't recommend it for very young viewers. But kids from ages 6-18 would enjoy it, as well as adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, because Disney has created a brand new, can't-miss classic.

The Lion King will be released on July 19 in theaters nationwide. By Elle Cohen, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

I love this film! There are stunning visuals, a powerful story of betrayal, coming of age, re-birth and the circle of life. The idea of what it really means to be a king and all the original sentiment is intact. I love all the animals and think it is really impressive how they filmed this movie.

The story of The Lion King is about a little cub named Simba who is going to become king. One day, a wild stampede puts Simba's life in danger and his father, Mudasa, dies after he rescues him. Mudasa's evil brother Scar makes Simba believe it is his fault and forces him to abandon the kingdom. Simba carries guilt and feelings of not being brave when he runs away, leaving everyone, including his best friend Nala behind. He goes to a new land where he meets Timon and Pumba and they become the best of friends. His life is good, but lacks purpose. From there, Simba's friend Nala comes to find help and meets Simba after so many years. Scar's reign is despicable and all the animals are trying to stop Scar's evil plans. Simba needs to become the king he was meant to be.

I love the comedy in this film. I also love how, in one scene, they play a little piece of "Be Our Guest" - that's actually my favorite scene in the film and it is not in the original. I definitively think this is a perfect visual recreation of the original. I love that they chose The Lion King to be the next Disney Classic to turn into live action. Lately, Disney been only doing Princess stories, so I like that they chose animals this time. I absolutely adore the animals and I feel like they fascinate you during the entire film. This is not a reinvention of the story; it is pretty much just taking the original to the real world. The way the live action blends with digital imagery is fantastic. This photo realistic Africa on the big screen is splendorous.

There are so many messages in the film: stay true to yourself, being compassionate is more important that being powerful, and we can't change our past. It is very inspiring to hear again "Hakuna Matata." This words have been an important motto for people since the original Lion King was released in 1994. The song was composed by Elton John and was nominated for an Oscar. There's a new Elton John song - "Never Too Late," and other surprises in this new one. All the beloved classic songs play in this 2019 version, which makes the audience very happy.

I give this film 5 of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13, and adults as well. Never forget: Hakuna Matata. The Lion King 2019 opens July 19, 2019, so look for it.

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

There's no denying that the original Lion King from 1994 is a classic. Gorgeous animation, amazing story and absolutely timeless music. So making a remake was understandably going to be tricky. How can you remake something that's already so timeless? Well to me, the end result is okay at best.

I almost feel like I don't need to explain the plot as it's the same story as the original. There are barely any changes and, even then, the changes are very minor. So if you've seen The Lion King (1994) then you've seen The Lion King (2019). However there's one major change that in my eyes makes the remake suffer significantly and that's the graphics.

I should preface this by saying I do prefer animation to CGI "realistic graphics" because I feel animation just looks better. But my main concern is that realistic graphics ruin the storytelling greatly. The Lion King is a very emotional story. And when you have such an emotional story you need to connect and feel for the characters. The original was able to pull this off perfectly with fantastically detailed facial expressions. Unfortunately, because of the realistic graphics, the characters in The Lion King (2019) show little to no emotion. This kills basically every important scene, as I didn't feel invested in it. I kept thinking to myself -These lions do not look interested in what's happening. The realism also has another consequence: I could not tell the difference between the lions at times. At times I thought is that Nala or Simba's Mom? Because the original is animated, they can differentiate the lions through things like their fur color, eyes and facial structure. The CGI remake does not have this ability.

It also felt like the creators tried cutting down on the more "animated" scenes. The Mufasa ghost scene doesn't have Mufasa's spirit appear; instead they just have his voice come from the clouds and sometimes lightning will strike to form his face. I feel seeing his full appearance is more powerful.

The songs suffer as well. "Be Prepared" is severely cut down which is disappointing, because it's a favorite song from the movie. The "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" segment in the original has all this crazy choreography that integrated the various animals in unique ways that can only be done in animation. In the remake they just run around. I was actually somewhat bored, if it wasn't for John Oliver as Zazu.

I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The Lion King (2019) comes out July 19, 2019.

Reviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The adventurous CGI animated dramatic musical The Lion King is a classic! The acting and the music is astonishing, somewhat different from the original but unique in its own way. The adventures that Simba choses to explore are dangerous and leave him more curious. It made me think of the saying, "curiosity killed the cat." The action between Simba and his evil uncle Scar is so incredible, that I could watch that scene repeatedly and still be amazed.

The Lion King is a production directed by Jon Favreau, a well-known actor who starred in many movies. The movie is set in the African Serengeti, and stars many well-known actors and musicians such as Beyonc� and Donald Glover. There is also new music introduced -- one piece in particular is produced and written by Beyonc� called Spirit, and it is a very nice song.

The storyline follows Simba, a prince cub who will be king one day. As his father Mufasa is teaching him how to be king, his uncle Scar becomes jealous and sets out to kill Mufasa and Simba so he can be king himself. Simba learns through all of this drama how to be brave and responsible.

The characters Pumbaa and Timon are hilarious in the movie, even funnier than in the original. They still sing their original song "Hakuna Matata", which means no worries for the rest of your days. My favorite part of the movie is watching Simba turn into an adult while singing "Hakuna Matata" and the joke that Timon says (which isn't in the original movie) is extremely funny!

The message of the movie is about learning to be brave, responsible, and taking ownership. In Simba's situation he meets new friends to help him along the way and is able to mend broken relationships with his friends and family. The movie does have some risky situations that kids might imitate, such as going into dangerous places and not following their parents' rules; therefore, parental guidance is suggested.

Overall, I give The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. I think adults will enjoy it too. It opens in theaters nationwide July 19, 2019, so be sure to check it out.

Reviewed by Navah W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

As the film rolled, and the first frames were displayed, I could not help but feel tears spring to my eyes with the opening sounds of the now-classic Zulu chant "Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba!" The sun rises on Pride Rock again as the new prince, Simba, (JD McCrary/Donald Glover) is presented to the Pride. Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the only returning original voice from the animated film, and Sarabi (Alfre Woodard), share their son with the Pride, noticing the absence of the King's brother, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Of the main characters, Scar is never one I believe. His role seems flat, given the prominence of his voice in the story. Simba's BFF and future queen, Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph/Beyonce Knowles Carter), is played well as a young and grown cub devoted to her friend, Pride and eventually, love. The toughest part about watching a live-action retelling of the classic animated film is the lack of emotion the animals bring to the screen. Whereas the animation allows more feeling drawn into the scene; lions, meerkats and warthogs don't have a lot of physical expressions. This small detail is an issue several times, as I wanted to connect to scenes on a deeper level.

The Lion King 2019 has all the feels - hope, sadness, pride, abundance and comedy. Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) are laugh-out-loud funny. Their casting is a match made in comedy heaven (live-action, animation...) Zazu (John Oliver) brings the punch line to many scenes as well - at times dry and others fully-animated. Oliver is an excellent choice to play a character who has to bring everyone to a level of knowledge throughout the film.

For some, the updated voices and darkness of the computer-generated animation will be a distraction. My guess is that Disney is betting (and banking) on the memories and emotions that millions have and are attached to from the 1994 animated film. I believe director Jon Favreau (who also directed Disney's 2016 live-action The Jungle Book) seeks a happy medium with this film. For me, I think he is very successful in telling the story.

I give this film 4 of 5 stars for its spectacular CGI and mindful frame-by-frame re-imagined storytelling. I was hoping for a few new tales, but this is not to be. The casting is exemplary, especially the humorous interludes between Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan's performances as Timon and Pumba. I love the NEW MUSIC, especially when Simba and Nala sings "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" to each other. I recommend this film for ages 4 to 18, as well as adults as it introduces or re-introduces the music of The Lion King and Elton John to younger generations. See it in theaters when it opens on July 19, 2019.

Reviewed by Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.
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