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.

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.