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.

My favorite couples and pairings

I have talked a number of times on my blog about romance in musicals. I thought to do something a bit differently. What if I brought up a few couples in musicals and my favorite pairing I have seen? That shall be interesting.

Major Spoilers:

Nala and Simba: Nia Holloway and Jared Dixon

  • Love her Nala and his Simba. Wonderful pairing.

Katherine and Jack Kelly: Kaitlyn Frank and Joey Barreiro

  • While I only remember Joey Barreiro’s portrayal, I said they are my favorite pairing. I just can’t help but think about Joey. That is why I said these two are my favorite pairing- all because of Joey.
Joey Barreiro as Jack Kelly in the stage show of Newsies

Jasmine and Aladdin: Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud

  • Yes, my favorite pairing is from the live action Aladdin movie. That could soon change: if I see Aladdin in person in September.

Belle and Beast: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens

  • So, I have two favorite Disney pairings from live action Disney movies.
Dan Stevens as Beast and Emma Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast live action

Kim and Chris: Emily Bautista and Anthony Festa

  • Well, they are the only Kim and Chris I saw.
Anthony Festa as Chris and Emily Bautista as Kim in The Last Night of the World

Christine and Raoul: Grace Morgan and Ben Jacoby

  • I may not remember anything about their Christine and Raoul. However, they currently are my favorite Christine and Raoul. I still remember my reaction during Phantom of the Opera: spellbound and choked up. That does say something. I remember getting attached to Christine in May of 2014.

Cosette and Marius: Jillian Butler and Joshua Grosso

  • I don’t really need to explain the two of them (I have said I believe, a lot about Joshua’s Marius). The reason why I remember Jillian’s Cosette so well is because of Joshua’s Marius. They are such an adorable couple- which I can’t explain.

Elphaba and Fiyero: Mary Kate Morrissey and Ashley Parker Angel

  • Of four casts, they are the only Elphaba and Fiyero I remember. It is crazy how just saying that Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple is a spoiler in itself.
Ashley Parker Angel as Fiyero leading up to "As Long as Your'e Mine"

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?

Magic in Disney Love Songs

There is something special about Disney love songs. It is one of the patterns that exist in musicals. They are all share a similar quality. It doesn’t seem to matter who sings it- they share that same quality. “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “A Whole New World”, and “Something to Believe In” all have that special quality. They have this kind of innocence and magic found in them. I was only listing songs from stage shows. My favorite classic Disney couple is Belle and Beast and my favorite contemporary Disney couple is Katherine and Jack. Whoever sings any of these songs- the magic remains.

"Beauty and the Beast" from the live action movie of Beauty and the Beast
“Beauty and the Beast”
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from the stage show of Lion King
“Can You Feel the Love Tonight”
"Something to Believe In" from Newsies
“Something to Believe In”
A Whole New World from Aladdin
A Whole New World

What do you think is special and magical about Disney love songs?

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.

Magic of Disney Couples

There is a wonderful magic in Disney musicals. For the past couple of musical posts, a lot of my ideas seem to come from romance. One of my favorite parts of romance come from Disney couples. Whether that is coming from Nala and Simba, Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, Belle and Beast, and Katherine and Jack, there is something wonderful about Disney couples.

The songs of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, “A Whole New World”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Something to Believe In” has a special kind of magic in them. It is a bit hard to describe the magic, but I think it has something to do with the youthfulness of the couples and the nature of the songs. The couples from Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast were couples that I grew up with and the couple from Newsies only came from last August.

But still, when you add romance to a Disney musical, a wonderful nature of magic exists. There is something just special about those songs. They are so heartfelt and filled with innocence and joy. The magic in Disney romance is exactly why I love those couples I believe and I also love them due to my emotional connection to the songs and the characters.

What do you think about the Disney couples? What is your favorite Disney couple?