The Lion King Live-Action Review

Okay so friends. I trust at this point everyone has seen The Lion King live-action remake, correct? If not, I will withhold judgement (I won’t) but I do suggest that you go watch it before continuing this post if you don’t want any spoilers. 

Of course, these won’t be spoilers with regard to the storyline, since they pretty much shot-for-shot recreated the cartoon (can you imagine if Mufasa’d LIVED or something wild like that?) but this review might give you preconceived feelings about the live-actionness of the remake. I know there have been a lot of mixed emotions in that regard, so fair warning.

First of all I should say, I love The Lion King. The original is my actual, factual, favorite movie and so off the strength of that alone — and of course barring any major changes to the storyline (okay but what if Mufasa LIVED though) — I was pretty sure I was going to like this movie. And I was right! As I mentioned it was a shot-for-shot remake, which while being irksome to some, gave me a great deal of comfort. Don’t fix what ain’t broke, ya know? The only liberties taken were some updated or additional jokes made, plus when Simba ran home to confront Scar, he caught up to Nala and they ran together, which I thought was a nice touch. 

That. Being. Said.

I would be REMISS, nay, A FOOL, if I did not admit that the photo-realism, while yes adding to the storyline, also took away. My mother commented after watching the movie: “I thought there were more colors in the original.” There were, mom. Because we were watching a children’s cartoon and not 120 minutes of greyish-brown desert animals running through a greyish-brown desert.

Beyond that, the emotional responsiveness of the characters, while of course limited, was better than I expected. I forgot that you can still tell when cats are sad, when dogs are scared, etcetera. What couldn’t be conveyed through the face was put into the body language, the way the ears drooped or the tail fell or the head lowered. But the big emotional climax of the film, when Simba finds his father lying dead in the canyon after the wildebeest stampede…. Fell. Completely. Flat. GIRL! I know they did their best and there wasn’t much that could be done but Simba looking at his dead father like this 😐 after he died felt like losing a sneeze. V uncomfortable, and not in the right way.

And then can we talk about Scar? Like can we talk about Scar? This is how I felt about the Gossip Girl casting for Jenny after reading the books (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google the description and then see who they cast 🙄). Like, the template was clear and YET. Somehow, we so gravely missed the mark. Sure okay maybe a mahogany lion with jet black hair and bright green eyes isn’t “photorealistic”, but give us SOMETHING.


At least some typa brown — that animal I saw was a dusty greige AT BEST. Also, I know Scar was lithe because he and them hyenas was hungry, but ol’ boy’s live-action counterpart looked three steps from the grave. What happened y’all? The playbook was right 👏🏾 there 👏🏾. Sigh, a missed opportunity.

Despite all of this, Beyoncé still killed it. Naturally. Obviously. What I didn’t realize prior to this is that I need Beyoncé to begin a whole new career as a voice actor; her portrayal of Nala was stunning, and made the character feel much more badass than in the film, where she already was a badass. I was all the way here for it. Five Stars. 

Overall, again, I quite enjoyed the movie, and I do not regret seeing it opening weekend. I’m a diehard fan, that’s what diehard fans do. However, I likely would not see it again in theaters (unless that ticket was free so let me know what’s up), but it’s a solid Netflix & chill option. TBH, my fangirl ass MIGHT even buy it on DVD. 

Definitely worth the watch, whether for free or not — and if you’re a millennial you’re pretty much mandated by law and nostalgia to see it.

Who else has seen The Lion King already? What did y’all think?