Lion King (2019) Review

Major Spoilers:

When I found out about the “live action” movie of Lion King, I wanted to see it. Lion King is one of the musicals I love. Lion King would be one of the hardest ones to do- after all, it is a musical where the characters are animals. I already had fallen in love with the live action versions of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Would the same happen with Lion King?

The opening scene, “Circle of Life”, did give me a lot of hope into how well done the rest of the film would be. Those animals and the African Savanah looked “real”. You never could have guessed it. That is one of the best openings to a movie musical.

We all know that scene. I was in tears when Mufasa died. I knew when it was coming. I don’t even remember if that scene affected me that way when I was a child. If it didn’t, I do know I began to feel the emotions in that scene when I saw the stage show last year.

One of the biggest disappointments I have with this film is “Be Prepared”. It is Scar’s number. In both the cartoon and the musical, it actually felt like a intense song meant for a villain. In this movie, it didn’t feel like Scar was actually singing- it was like he was talking all the lines. “Be Prepared” is the main disappointment I had with Scar.

As far as the other main songs go, they were spot on meaning they did not disappoint me. I already said my opinion about “Circle of Life”. There is something special about Disney love songs- it doesn’t seem to matter who sings them- but no matter what, the magic and innocence and nostalgia (if it is a childhood musical) is always there- “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” defiantly had that.

In both Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, I loved their original songs, Evermore and Speechless. Lion King’s original song, that belonged to Nala, did not set the bar for me. However, I still thought it was a well-done movie: just a few disappointments.

Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. This post will bring up loving fathers- my father and musical theatre fathers.

I love my dad. We have had created many wonderful adventures together, and some have been shared with my mom and sister. Just like I love my dad, he loves me. At Kanuga Parish Weekends, the two of us have been the hiking leaders. We once had a date to the theater to see Wicked- that was my 3rd time, and I wanted to go to give my dad a chance to see it, but he still gave me the better seat. There was a time my family went to Kanuga for Thanksgiving, and he helped me make a hiking stick. He was among the 72 pilgrims on the Bristol Pilgrimage- that is a lot of pilgrims (which includes the choir). Memories are shared with my family with Kanuga and Bristol (as you can see), but also in Florida and Missouri and other states- family memories.

What about the musical theatre dads? Are there loving dads there? MAJOR SPOILERS

Valjean- whenever I think of dads in musical theatre, my mind hops to Jean Valjean. He had to became a dad in the most unexpected of ways. He adopted Cosette out of compassion to her mother (it was promise he made to Fantine). He promised to Fantine on her deathbed that he would take care of Cosette. Cosette was horribly abused- she needed someone like Valjean in her life. Valjean kept his promise to Fantine- he raised her even though that would not be easy- he was an ex-convict.

Jean Valjean and Young Cosette in the film of Les Misérables (2012)
Jean Valjean and Young Cosette

Mufasa- another incredible father. He is father to Simba. Not only is he an incredible father, but an incredible King, but that time was short-lived thanks to his jealous brother, Scar, who killed him. Mufasa taught Simba life lessons that were important and how to be a good king.

Maurice- everyone in the town calls him crazy, but Belle never saw her father this way. Maurice loved his daughter a lot. He wanted to protect her- he didn’t want to lose her. Yes, I can understand why people of that town would call him crazy- after all raving about a beast and winter in summer-that is unlikely, but it is true what he saw. He wanted people to help him after Belle was taken prisoner. He was a little overprotective-yes, but he just wanted her safe.

Maurice and Belle in the stage show of Beauty and the Beast
Maurice and Belle

What other musical theatre fathers do you love?

Animals of the Musical Theatre World

I don’t think I touched on this. When you think of musical theatre, you think of “humans”. There are characters in the musicals theatre world who are not “human”. They are animals themselves or are humans disguised as an animal. I decided to touch on those animals today.

Simba

  • He is the main character of The Lion King. After Mufasa, he is meant to be King, but this makes his Uncle Scar jealous. The story kicks off when Scar murders Mufasa. Simba was led to believe that he killed his father by Scar. After all, Simba was only a cub. Another thing to say about Simba is that his best friend is Nala. Before this tragic event happened, Simba was excited to be king. However the death of Mufasa and being led to be believe that he killed his dad is traumatizing. He had to run away and does not want to return. He ends up living with Timon and Pumba. He did feel like his dad wasn’t watching over him, and did forget who he was. He did fall in love with Nala. Simba did eventually return to the Pride Lands to fight Scar to be King, and learned who really killed Mufasa.
Simba during the stage show when he becomes King
Simba

Nala

  • Like I just said, Nala and Simba are best friends. She has this incredible strength. When Scar asks her to be his Queen, she flees the Pride Lands to get help. This is when she encounters Simba, and that was when the two of them fall in love.
Simba and Nala during Can You Feel the Love Tonight during the stage show of Lion King
Nala and Simba

Mufasa

  • Mufasa is an excellent King and father. While the time was short-lived, he taught Simba incredible life lessons. Even in death, Mufasa still looked over Simba- in one scene- he told Simba- “Remember”. So, Mufasa never forget about his son.

Beast

  • Beast is one of those animals who is a human who was turned into an animal. That is because of a selfish mistake he made. At the time, he didn’t have love in his heart. He didn’t let an old woman into his castle- but he was warned not be deceived by appearances because beauty comes from within. He didn’t realize that the old woman was really an enchantress- she ended up turning the prince into a beast. It was a strong curse- as other humans in the castle were turned into enchanted objects. He had to fall in love with someone else and had to be love in return for the spell to be broken- or else he would stay a beast forever. Years passed, and there was no sign of the spell breaking. Then Belle came, and became a prisoner in his castle, and taught him love- she was the one to break the curse. Those two fell in love.
Beast and Belle during the song, Beauty and the Beast, in the live action movie, Beauty and the Beast
Beast

Sandy

  • This time, the character is played by an actual dog. It is Annie’s dog. She found him as a stray on the streets. She decided to own the dog. That is one of the things I love about the character of Annie- that she would own the dog- she has compassion for Sandy. It in so ways impresses me much more to see an actual animal acting in a musical than an actor/actress.

What are other animal characters you love in musicals?

Non-Survivors I love in Musicals

What do I mean by the non-survivors? These are the characters who die in musicals. So this will be SPOILER HEAVY. I used to think a character death would not be memorable, but I learned my lesson.

  1. Enjolras and the students
  2. Gavroche
  3. Eponine
  4. Fantine
  5. Jean Valjean
  6. Don Quixote
  7. Angel
  8. Mufasa
  9. Kim

It was Les Mis that taught me that I can love a character death. I love more characters who survive than characters who don’t survive. A lot of that it because I can’t think of more. Death in musicals are not EASY to watch, but you have to understand WHY they had to happen- all of these deaths had to happen. Yes, character death is sad, and you are heartbroken because you loved the character. The only way they will continue to live is in you.

How do you feel about character death?

Circle of Life- Lion King Review

On September 4th, I went to see Lion King at Belk Theater with my mom and sister. We sat in the orchestra right at the aisle. I was the one closest to the aisle. Those made for the most perfect seats. I first saw Lion King in elementary school, but I don’t remember seeing it. For me, it was like seeing Lion King for the very first time. Many people do not understand why I couldn’t remember Lion King the first time: I just was so young to remember so I am glad I will know have a memory of Lion King I will remember. People thought Lion King will take over the rank of Wicked, but it didn’t. Wicked is still the same ranking as it always has been.

At this performance, we had Gloria Manning as Young Nala and Salahedin Safi as Young Simba. On top of that, I had Ntomb’Khona Dlamini as Rafiki. So I had an understudy in the role as Rafiki. So the pattern continues- now from 2014-2018, have had understudies.

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Possible Staging and Plot Spoilers:

“Circle of Life” took my breath away. This is why our seats were perfect. Animals literally walked down the two aisles. Birds and a Rhino walked down our aisle while an Elephant walked down the other aisle. Then on stage, Rafiki started out the cry that the new king, Simba had arrived: the different smoke changed colors symbolizing the time in the day. Just one of the best musical theatre openings ever.

About Rafiki, she had an incredible voice. I knew her voice was wonderful just by “Circle of Life” alone. She kept on making me laugh. She had this incredible wisdom throughout the musical. I love Rafiki as a character.

About Young Simba and Young Nala, I loved them. It is amazing how children can memorize their lines, and perform on stage. I loved those two on stage.

Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa was wonderful. He was so wonderful that I wished he was on stage for a little bit longer. He acted like both a wonderful king and dad so convincingly. At the time of his death, I was so close to crying: I just wanted Mufasa to live longer than he did on stage. That was how much I loved him as Mufasa.

Mark Campbell as Scar: I do not like talking about Scar. His “Be Prepared” number terrified me. The hyenas came down the aisle to get to the stage. I got mad at his Scar. He played the part of villain very well.

Nick Cordileone as Timon and William John Austin as Pumba were an incredible pairing.

Jared Dixon as Simba- I loved his entrance: swinging on a rope. That makes quite a fun entrance. He played the emotional parts of Simba extremely well. He showed all of that emotion during “Endless Night”. his solo number. In “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, he had wonderful chemistry with Nia Halloway as Nala showing their love for each other. In the end, when he walked on Pride Rock becoming king, he walked like a king with such strength. I loved his Simba so much.

Nia Halloway as Nala- I also loved her Nala as well. She was able to show her relucantace towards being Scar’s Queen. In Shadowland, she started out innocent showing how young Nala is. Then as the number continued, she showed just how strong Nala is. Like I said with Jared, wonderful chemistry during “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.

The way they showed many scenes was clever like the Stampede or like I said earlier “Circle of Life”. I loved the way they represented the animals: it was through puppets. In terms of Simba, Nala, Scar, and Mufasa, they used a lion’s masks that they put on their head- same was true with the other lions. You end up seeing both the person and the puppet. As for souvenirs, I bought a Lion King Snowglobe and the soundtrack. Do I like Lion King? No, because I love it. Each time, I learn to love a musical, I am always asked where does a musical rank if I love it: I do not know where Lion King ranks: I think in my top ten. Lion King is a childhood musical of mine: I just do not remember seeing the movie or the stage show. So it reentered my life when I saw it a couple days ago.