The Lion King: What the critics say

Chiwetel Ejiofor arrives at the world premiere of
Chiwetel Ejiofor arrives at the world premiere of "The Lion King" on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Critics have delivered their verdicts on the remake of The Lion King, 25 years after the original became a film classic.

Director Jon Favreau, who also remade The Jungle Book, is the filmmaker behind the new Disney movie.

The voice cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar and Beyonce as Nala.

The animated reboot features songs by Sir Tim Rice and Sir Elton John, who previously worked together on the original.

Donald Glover arrives at the world premiere of The Lion King
Donald Glover arrives at the world premiere of The Lion King (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Variety’s Peter Debruge said that the new film “no longer requires audiences to pretend that the CGI looks more believable than it does” as the “animals look utterly convincing”.

He said: “By focusing his attention on upgrading the look of the earlier film while sticking largely to its directorial choices and script, Favreau reinforces the strength of the 1994 classic. If you were never a fan of The Lion King, then nothing here will win you over. On the other hand, for those too young ever to have seen it, this could be a life-changing experience.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw gave the movie, which follows remakes of Cinderella and Beauty And The Beast, three stars.

“The new Lion King gains in shock and awe while losing in character and wit”, he said.

The original Lion King movie
The original Lion King movie (Tophams/Buena Vista Pictures)

The film “sticks very closely to the original version, and in that sense it’s of course watchable and enjoyable. But I missed the simplicity and vividness of the original hand-drawn images,” he said.

Awarding the film four stars, The Daily Mail’s Brian Viner said The Lion King “might just be the best” Disney remake yet.

While the animals’ faces are less expressive than they were in the original and Ejiofor “can’t match” his predecessor Jeremy Irons “for fruity, baritone menace”, the movie is a “terrific film in its own right”, he said.

Kevin Maher in The Times also gave the film four stars, saying that “it’s better than the original”.

He said “Ejiofor’s delivery is masterful” as Scar, having “swapped the theatrical camp of Jeremy Irons for something far more internalised and sinister”.

But Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter said that “by and large, very few remakes… have adhered as closely to their original versions as this one does.

“Everything here is so safe and tame and carefully calculated as to seem predigested,” he said. “There’s nary a surprise in the whole two hours.”

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