I saw the new version of The Lion King with a friend. She and I, as well as a woman with her two kids, were the only ones in the theater. I loved the beautiful CGI animals, as well as the return of James Earl Jones as the voice of Mufasa. The kids who voiced Simba and Nala did a really good job, and their singing voices were really good, too. There were some things I preferred from the original version of The Lion King, and there were some touches that I appreciated from the 2019 version.
The Lion King tells the story of a young lion prince who is destined to take after his father’s kingdom. His jealous and scheming uncle, Scar, wants the throne for himself. After Scar murders Mufasa and assumes the throne, he tries to have Simba killed. When Simba escapes, he befriends a meerkat Timon and a warthog Pumbaa. As Simba learns to put the past behind him, he is confronted by an adult Nala, who tells him just how bad the Pride Lands have become under Scar’s tenacious rule. Simba finds it within himself to return to the Pride Lands and fight for his kingdom.
The new Lion King follows the original story pretty well, with a few changes. Some I liked, while others I missed from the original movie. One of the changes I liked was how how Nala and Simba got rid of Zazu at the watering hole: the cubs weave in and out of the other animals, to finally find him being caught up in a swarm of other birds. While I love the original movie, I feel that the way in which all the animals end up in a heap stacked on top of each other is a little silly, but still effective.
Another scene I really liked was the explanation of where the hyenas live. In the original, it’s not really specified where the henchmen live–it just shows them hanging out somewhere, a place that’s cut of the rocks. In the 2019 version, it’s clearly stated that the hyenas live in the elephant graveyard. This makes sense, because Mufasa wouldn’t have just let them wander around the Pride Lands. It’s implied in the original film, but I like this little touch.
While the 2019 film is really good at being more realistic, the film itself overall feels like a copy of the original film. I miss the original song that Scar sings, which details his plan to overtake his brother’s throne.
In the 2019 film, the song is more of a spoken-word piece, one that seems more militant and condensed. I miss the voices of Jeremy Irons and Jim Cummings; I miss the evil and insanity behind Scar’s plan that he reveals to the hyenas in the 1994 film. I miss his evil laugh at the end of the song, which also captures more of Scar’s character.
A song I also really miss is “Under the Stars,” which not only plays when Simba talking with Rafiki and finds his father, but also when he runs back to the Pride Lands. The part I’m talking about happens around 3:00. It’s a powerful, energizing song.
The part around three minutes gives me chills. I was bummed that the new 2019 version had a song by Beyonce in it. (Don’t get me wrong, Beyonce does some great music, but I love the original.) I miss the Zulu language, even though it is incorporated into the newer film. Still, I miss the original instrumental piece that plays as Simba runs back to assume his role as the new king.
While I really enjoyed seeing the new version of The Lion King, the original version still has a special place in my heart. I’ll always have a fondness for the films of my childhood, and this is one of them.
What did you guys think of the new film? Drop a response down in the comments.