Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Movie Review - The Lion KingIf you’re not a Lion King fan, then I think you’ll find the 2019  live action (CGI, really) version more enjoyable than the animated one, based on more humor and the outstanding cinematography.

For my part, I feel a little numb because I effectively watched the movie three times today working on the Peetimes. And, until two nights ago, I hadn’t seen the animated Lion King since it first came out in the 90s.

The CGI is outstanding. There wasn’t a single moment where I could tell that something wasn’t real. Of course, the animal talking is unavoidably clumsy because animals don’t have the anatomy to actually talk. But I didn’t find it distracting.

The script has been revised slightly to make it more contemporary and add a little more humor. And the voice cast is top-shelf.

Speaking of humor: Seth Rogen, as the voice for Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as the voice for Timon, absolutely carried the movie. John Oliver as Zazu was a perfect choice; I just wish the writers had given him one five second rant to enjoy.

I’m bummed they didn’t bring back Whoopi Goldberg for Shenzi the hyena, but at least they had “the voice” as Mufasa: James Earl Jones.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I would recommend either of the first two Peetimes.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Lion King. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Remake

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Character voices for Lion King

Lion King: Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

 

Actor Voices for Every Lion King Character (2019)

Here’s a photographic list of the main characters and the actors’ voices behind them in the 2019 CGI (AKA ‘Live Action’) remake of The Lion King.

Lion King: Simba (young)

Simba (young)

Lion King Simba young JD McCrary

JD McCrary

This talented young (12 y/o) actor already has an extensive TV filmography, even appearing as a young Michael Jackson in the TV series American Soul.
Lion King: Simba (grown)

Simba (grown)

Lion King Simba grown Donald Glover

Donald Glover

Donald Glover is a writer, actor, musician, comedian, producer and director. You should recognize him as the young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, or for a small, but important, role he had in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Personally, my favorite role of his is as the brilliant astrophysicist in The Martian who came up with the legendary Rich Purnell Maneuver. (For the classic film fans, the adult Simba role was played/sung by Matthew Broderick.) 
Lion King: Nala

Nala

Lion King Nala Beyonce

Beyoncé

Singer and stuff. 🙂
Lion King: Mufasa

Mufasa

Lion King Mufasa voice James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

No one’s voice exudes power and majesty the same as James Earl Jones’, which is why he’s the only voice actor holdover from the original Lion King. He is Mufasa, and also, in case you didn’t know, the voice of Darth Vader. Among other roles. JEJ just commands respect.
Lion King: Scar

Scar

Lion King Scar voice Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Ejiofor is the Oscar nominated best actor for 12 Years a Slave. For Marvel fans, he’s known as Mordo, Dr. Strange‘s closest sorcerer mentors. Watch this YouTube video here to learn more about him, and especially how to pronounce his name. 🙂

I’m a big Firefly fan, so my favorite role of his is as The Operative in Serenity.

Lion King: Timon

Timon

Lion King Timon Billy Eichner

Billy Eichner

Eichner has done heaps of TV and voice work for years. If you watch American Horror Story, you’ll recognize him as Harrison Wilton / Mutt Nutter / Brock.
Lion King: Pumbaa

Pumbaa

Lion King Pumbaa Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen

If he’s not the funniest, most talented writer/actor in Hollywood right now, I’d like to know who is. (You shut up, James Franco. We’ve been over this. I respect you and you’re super talented, but you’re not Rogen-talented.)
Lion King: Rafiki

Rafiki

Lion King Rafiki John Kani

John Kani

If John Kani looks familiar, it’s probably because you recognize this Tony award winning actor as Wakanda’s King T’Chaka from Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther.
Lion King: Zazu

Zazu

Lion King Zazu voice John Oliver

John Oliver

John Oliver is best known for his hit HBO show Last Week Tonight, and previously on The Daily Show, but recently he’s been very active as a voice actor for movies such as Wonder Park, The Smurfs 1, 2, etc., Robot Chicken, Danger Mouse, and much more.
Lion King hyena Shenzi

Sarafina

Lion King hyena Shenzi Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba, born in Uganda, lives in Berlin. She’s one of the very few actors to cross over from the MCU to DC. She is Ayo, personal guard of the King of Wakanda in Black Panther, and also played Senator Acantha in Wonder Woman.
Lion King hyena Kamari

Kamari

Lion King hyena Kamari Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key

His name is Keegan-Michael because he’s actually two people: how else could he get so much work done? He’s been in… Actually, it might be faster to list what he wasn’t in. He didn’t appear in Downton Abbey, or Game of Thrones, but was in pretty much everything else, such as: The Predator, Lets Be Cops, Tomorrowland, Keanu, the voice for Ducky in Toy Story 4, and the voice for Murray in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.
Lion King hyena Azizi

Azizi

Lion King hyena Azizi Eric André

Eric André

Eric is the host of his own TV show: The Eric Andre Show. He’s also appeared in a number of TV shows: in Disenchantment as Pendergrast, Man Seeking Woman as Mike, Lucas Bros Moving Co as Wes Borland / Satan / Red, 2 Broke Girls as Deke, and many others.

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Lion King – Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

the lion king animated movie - simba on rock
King of all “the sun touches.” Not bad, eh?

This week the rebooted version of The Lion King arrives in theaters. But before that happens, I want to say a few things. To start with, the original 1994 Lion King is one of the best Disney movies EVER. For me, it’s right after The Little Mermaid, and that’s saying a lot.

The Lion King came out during the Disney Renaissance, rescuing Disney from the doldrums of mediocre films they were plagued with post-Golden Age. To have this movie as a remake now, as a “live action” reboot (it’s all CGI, folks), is a BIG BIG deal. The live action versions of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Dumbo don’t even come close. The Lion King is da biggie.

So I did a rewatch last night of the animated classic. And guess what? It not only held up over the years, but surpassed my memories. The Lion King is simply spectacular, in every way. It’s filmatically beautiful, has a great plot, cool characters, good musical interludes, and some truly enjoyable humor.

And Hakana Matata? Well, if I could live a life of “No worries”, I’d be a happy human.

So, the film. If you watch the gorgeous opening scene, I challenge you to not cry for joy. “The Circle Of Life” is one of the best movie introductions ever set to film. I can’t think of anything else that comes close. (Let me know if you can in the comment section below.)

I have a really, really long list of cool thoughts and notes I took during my rewatch, but Comic Con in San Diego starts tonight, and I have to get ready to become a Jedi Knight. So what I’ll do is make a simple bullet-point listing and add my handwritten notes to this article as the week goes on.

I’ll also be Live-Tweeting Comic Con. And now I must be going. I think you’ll like my Lion King notes, once I add them. There’s a lot to discuss.

In the meantime, enjoy the original 1994 Lion King trailer:

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

lion king characters
Lion King Crew. You can probably name every character here.

As you may know there, is a controversy that surrounds The Lion King. The fact that it possibly stole its entire movie from one called Kimba the White Lion is one ting…but we’re not talking about that here. We are going to be talking about how the Lion King is basically Hamlet with lions.

And yes, I mean the Shakespeare Hamlet too, and not some play or movie about a baby pig. So if you don’t know Hamlet like you should, here’s a brief reminder:

The king has a brother and that brother kills the king. The king prior to death had a son. The son now has to kill his uncle and reclaim the throne. 

There’s the very short and sweet reminder of Hamlet. (Sparknotes should take notes on how it’s done.) Either way, today I’m going to be comparing the Lion King (which is loosely based on Hamlet) to Hamlet (1996), which is essentially a word for word re-imagining. Obviously, this battle is pretty even. Let’s compare the two and see how they stack up to each other.

The Villain—

First things first, Scar and Claudius and drastically different characters for the better of each story. Scar, I would say, is a dictator, where as Claudius is a king. Claudius is very methodical and punctual with his words and actions, where as Scar when he gets power runs everything downhill. Scar doesn’t think about the betterment of all his people, but Claudius does. That said, it does mean that it’s more satisfying to see Scar lose in the end, than it is to see Claudius lose.

But if I had to give it up to which movie killed off its villain better, I would go with Hamlet.

Hamlet fighting scene
Hamlet fights for his right to party.

The Love Interest—

We have Nala and Ophelia. Nala is basically a side character that only really serves for one music number, and to push the main character to fulfill their destiny. Weirdly enough, Ophelia has a musical number too. Nala is very basic — interesting and better than most side characters in movies — but still basic. Ophelia starts out as a confused girl who then just snaps to crazy. It’s kind of jarring, but she dies shortly after, so it’s all good.

simba and nala in lion king
Hamlet and The Lion King. One lady is insane. And the other is a princess. Do you recall which is which?

Ghost Dad—

Weird one to put in, but I wanted to mention it. In Hamlet, ghost dad simply acts as like a Macguffin to inform Hamlet about the foul play in his death. But ghost dad in Lion King acts as a guiding light for Simba. When Simba is confused and unsure, ghost dad comes in to guide him in the right direction. Ghost dad in Hamlet just yells at his son to avenge his murder.

Hamlet/Simba—

The main man/lion. I’m going to keep this bareboned. Simba is a scared, confused, yet growing character who realizes what needs to happen, and grows to become the lion he needs to be. Hamlet just kinda goes from mad to slightly insane, then back to mad.

Kenneth Branagh still brings many complex emotions through his acting, but the character as a whole has just about those three emotions, looking back on it.

The Queen—

The queens are completely different characters in these movies. In Hamlet she is a woman who loves her son, marries a murderer willingly, and falls victim to the king’s evil ploys against Hamlet. In Lion King the queen is not really seen ,but from what we do see she is forced into marriage, doesn’t put up with the “king’s” rule, but still loves her son. 

hamlet the movie
You can’t beat a good confetti cannon.

Overall, The Lion King vs Hamlet–

In the end, if I honestly had to say which of these movies is better, that would depend on who you are.

If you’re an absolute film nerd and want to see something beautifully done, you can watch both of these. If you mainly love Shakespeare, then watch Hamlet, since it’s more true to the original tale.

But let’s face it, you’re not just watching 4 hours worth of movie regardless of any high praise I could give it, if you’re a true fan of good films. 

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

My two cents worth as I anticipate The Lion King this week. I’m fascinated to see how Disney can remake a masterpiece. The original movie was amazing, and the stage musical was also, in an entirely different way. When my daughter, Destiny, and I saw the musical in Chicago, we were absolutely blown away by the production and costumes. I didn’t think I could love the movie anymore, but I did even more after the musical experience.

Destiny and I love ALL things Disney, and we are amazed at their attention to detail.  I’ve also taken the leadership course at Disney Institute, and their behind the scenes operational ethics are inspiring. For example, when Disney was making the Lion King musical, they spent months figuring out how to make the stage elephant blink perfectly, timely, and look real, simultaneously.

I especially can’t wait until I see the opening scene of the movie. I literally cry every time I see it, and I cried during the musical as well. They used live animals to enter from the back of the theatre, and walked to the stage (Pride Rock) —  and it was absolutely the most amazing and breathtaking thing I had seen in all my life.

Like many of you, I’ve seen The Lion King, via DVD, more than 25 times, and I know every scene and song. So to say, I’ll be especially sensitive watching the remake to ensure Disney didn’t ruin my ultimate love affair with my DVD replay. This is an understatement. I’m sure Disney is feeling the pressure too, but if I know them at all, this too, will be A+ amazing.

So don’t underestimate the magic of Disney. Walt Disney and the entire staff thrive on his words: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  And on Thursday, July 19, Disney. will. do. it. again! (Exhale)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

 

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

the lion king animated movie - simba on rock
King of all he surveys. Not bad, eh?

Innnn the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonigtttt…..A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh…

This classic song is well known, but most don’t realize the name isn’t In the Jungle. Even if you ask Alexa for In the Jungle, she knows what song you mean but corrects you first: it’s called The Lion Sleeps Tonight. But I honestly think a lot of people just sing A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh a few times, and everyone gets the reference. Remind me to run that by Alexa later. 🙂

In the meantime, this 1961 tune, by whatever name, is a fun karaoke favorite. The lyrics fit perfectly into Disney’s 1994 animated The Lion King.

The Lion King is among the top movies of the beloved Disney Renaissance Period, along with The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and a small second handful of Top Tier movies…many of which, including The Lion King, are undergoing a remake phase. (Dumbo got the same treatment, but it’s thematically, deeply problematic.)

The upcoming “live action” Lion King technically isn’t one. It’s entirely CGI. (Duh.) But from the trailers it looks exciting enough, and will hopefully retain the best musical numbers, including The Circle of Life,  Hakuna Matata, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Let’s get excited and ready for the retelling of Simba, Nala, Timone, and Pumbaa (And James Earl Jones is back to reprise his seminal role!) by learning the words to The Lion Sleeps and singing along. Song clip is followed by the lyrics below!

Song to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, by The Tokens, 1961

Lyrics to The Lion Sleeps Tonight

(By The Tokens)

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Near the village the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight
Near the village the quiet village
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Hush my darling don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight
Hush my darling don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh…

(Songwriters: George David Weiss / Hugo E. Peretti / Luigi Creatore
The Lion Sleeps Tonight lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

Dumbo – Lyrics and Video to the Original Disney Classic Song Baby Mine

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

the lion king log scene
We should all try to live the hakuna matata lifestyle…

The most charming song in the  1994’s beloved The Lion King is where Pumbaa, Timon, and Simba sing Hakuna Matata. Which means, as the meerkat and wildebeast cheerfully describe, “No worries.” A good philosophy…can you watch this scene without smiling?

It’s pleasant, funny, and even meaningful — remember the iconic moment where the three friends walk across a log, signaling the passage of time as Simba grows from cub to adult lion? (Sniff. Awww.)

Something you probably didn’t know is that Elton John was one of the songwriters for this sweet little film little interlude. We can only hope Hakuna Matata is included in the rebooted “live action” (actually CGI) Lion King movie, out this summer in 2019.

Note: Hakuna Matata’s got…farting and belching jokes. A little risque for 1990s Disney, but it underlies the underdog and acceptance theme well. We would all be lucky to have accepting, affectionate friends like Pumbaa and Timone. We should also try to adopt a certain No Worries mind-set in such troublesome times. We’d all be a lot happier and nicer to each other. 🙂

Watch the Hakuna Matata sequence and learn the lyrics (below)

Lyrics to The Lion King’s Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain’t no passing craze

It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!

Why, when he was a young warthog
When I was a young wart-hoooog!
Very nice!
Thanks!
He found his aroma lacked a certain appeal
He could clear the Savannah after every meal
I’m a sensitive soul, though I seem thick-skinned
And it hurt that my friends never stood downwind
And oh, the shame
(He was ashamed!)
Thought of changin’ my name
(Oh, what’s in a name?)
And I got downhearted
(How did you feel?)
Every time that I-
Pumbaa! Not in front of the kids!
Oh… sorry

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
Yeah, sing it, kid!
It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!
Hakuna Matata
Hakuna Matata
Hakuna Matata

Hakuna
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata…

[Songwriters: Elton John / Tim Rice
Hakuna Matata lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company]