Critics Consensus

The Lion King Is a Visual Feast, but Offers Nothing New

Critics say Disney's latest remake is a technical achievement, but it's essentially a rehash of the 1994 animated classic.

by | July 18, 2019 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a royal cub (The Lion King, featuring the voices of Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter). What are the critics saying?

The Lion King (2019) 52%

We’ve already gotten two of Disney’s live-action remakes of animated films from their canon — namely Dumbo back in March and Aladdin in May — but this week’s The Lion King was always the most anticipated of the bunch. Director Jon Favreau took on similar material when he helmed 2016’s The Jungle Book, which was both a critical and commercial success, so it made sense to tap him for another talking-animal movie with one less human in it. Multi-hyphenate talent Donald Glover takes on the role of adult Simba, while Beyoncé plays Nala, with Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, and returning as the voice of Mufasa, James Earl Jones. Unfortunately, the critics haven’t all been on board for this return trip to the African wilderness. While most are quick to praise the technical craft that has gone into bringing the characters to life, many feel that it’s a double-edged sword, since the photorealistic nature of the animals necessarily limits their expressiveness. In addition, this new version of the story is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of the original that offers precious few new elements, which several critics found disappointing. With all of that in mind, overall reception to the film will largely hinge on whether audiences were hoping to see a new interpretation of the classic story or content to see the same tale retold, but with admittedly mind-blowing visuals. Either way, The Lion King is all but guaranteed to rule the box office this weekend, so Hakuna Matata to that.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Rosie (2018) , a drama about a young family who become homeless and spend 36 hours looking for a new place to stay, is at 97%.
  • David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) , a documentary portrait of the famed musician, is at 96%.
  • I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (2018) , a drama about a theater director’s efforts to stage a controversial production against the local government’s wishes, is at 93%.
  • Luz (2018) , a horror film about a young cab driver on the run from an evil she summoned years ago, is at 88%.
  • At War (2018) , a drama about a group of former employees who rise up in protest when executives shut down the factory where they worked, is at 72%.
  • A Faithful Man (2018) , a comedy-drama about a couple split apart by infidelity who reunite under unfortunate circumstances and unearth further secrets, is at 65%.
  • Into the Ashes (2019) , an action film about an ex-con who squares off against some unsavory associates from his criminal past, is at 33%.

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