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Disney celebrates “The Lion King’s” 25th anniversary in grand style, and I couldn’t be more in awe of this movie. Before I get into my full review of the new restatement of the film. For those of you that just need me to quickly hit on the points of the movie, it can be found in my next paragraph.
“THE LION KING” IS A BEAUTIFUL CINEMATIC ANIMATION MASTERPIECE! The Photo-realism is mind blowing and Jon Favreau is about to change the game in CGI, so much so that I don’t think we will ever be subjected to the same old CGI movies that we were accustomed to ever again. For those of you that have seen the original animated movie, you have not seen it like this. It is a must see to put on your to-do list for the weekend of July 18th.
Now that I got the 2-minute folks out of the way, those of you that stuck around for the longer, romantic review, this is just for you.
Before seeing the movie on July 10th, I had never seen “The Lion King.” I know, you are in shock, maybe even mildly disgusted. Trust me, My daughter and wife were equally as shocked as you are. What can I say, I have a son, and we were naturally attracted to movies with big car crashes, big explosions, and even bigger fight scenes. So “The Lion King” just fell off my radar. Having said that, being able to see the movie for the first time gives me a neutral perspective that the naysayers who want to compare the movie to the original wont have. Seeing this movie prompted me to want to see the original. Secondly, watching the movie had me thinking about how I would bring my son (now 16 years old) to come see it. That is two very good things! It means that Jon Favreau did an excellent job of bringing his CGI remake to the screen. It also means that this movie can bridge a multi-generational gap between Baby Boomers, Generation X, Gen Y, and Millennials. Personally, the father/son relationship between Mufasa and Simba is a major motivator for me wanting to watch the movie with my son (which I plan to do). Also, the movie does have a major fight scene, and that’s a plus for my son and I…LOL.
Since this movie is celebrating its’ 25th Anniversary, I don’t think anything that I am going to say will be such a major spoiler. “The Lion King’s” main theme touches on the Circle of Life; and if you pay attention, you will notice that the movie ends just as it begins. The Circle of Life represents the infinite nature of energy, meaning if something dies it gives new life to another. Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones) explains this to his young cub, Simba (voiced by JD McCrary) as they watch over Pride Rock. Mufasa also reminds Young Simba that a great King is one that respects all things and is not one who seeks to conquer or bully. This is definitely shown in how Pride Rock flourished when Mufasa was king and its’ demise when he dies and Scar (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor), Mufasa’s brother takes over the Kingdom. The Lion King is rich in spirituality, ancient beliefs, and practices that existed in Native American and African culture. The Circle, for one, being an infinite symbol with no beginning or end is a sacred symbol used in ancient ceremonies. That very same circle is used in the form of a wedding ring in marriage. It is this type of symbolism that makes “The Lion King” so relatable to all.
Though rich in meaning, “The Lion King” also delivers the funny as well; and for that, the movie called on Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogan). Who knew that these guys could actually sing? They sang “Hakuna Matata” with good singing chops and was very funny. The way Timon and Pumbaa played off each other with such timing and sarcasm in the movie, it felt so natural. I found myself laughing at most of the scenes that involved the two of them.
Speaking of music, Hans Zimmer’s and South African Composer Lebo M. score of this film is beautiful. The rhythm of the drums and melodic tunes that set the scenes created feelings of emotion and pride. Beyonce’s created a song just for the 2019 film called “Spirit”. “Spirit” opens with two men singing in Swahili, and then is followed by Beyonce “SANGIN’”. Taking a page out of the Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Panther” book, Beyonce produced “The Lion King: The Gift” album that will go along with the movie.
Along with the musical gift, is the gift that the audience will receive visually. I have to reiterate how magnificent and beauty of this movie’s imagery. The ‘Photo-realistic’ CGI is truly mind blowing. My neighbor in the chair next to me leaned over and asked, “are these real animals? They just look so real;” and THEY DO! When the wind blows, Mufasa’s mane sways with the wind. His large, ripped body is well defined. The landscape is lush and the colors of greens, blues, reds, and yellows are vibrant. Everything about the visuals of this movie is spot on.
In closing, I must say that this movie has many gems that are needed in today’s society. It is a movie that will allow those of us who remember it in 1994, to share the movie theater with those who may have never seen it. This movie will leave you with moments of laughter, and pride. It will teach you the importance of humility, acceptance, family, and integration. You will be entertained, and also empowered. You may go into the movie as a ‘line’, but you will leave as a ‘circle’ – You have to see the movie to understand that.