Jon Favreau‘s The Lion King had its worldwide premiere over in the United States of A, and to say the critics loved it is a wild understatement. With someone like Favreau at the wheel, re: Chef, The Jungle Book, Iron Man etc., you can expect quality content. And quality content, he delivered. The blue ticks of the film industry are frothing on Disney’s latest remake, assuring nervy Disney fans that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
As a lil’ summary of these first reactions: Billy Eichner‘s Timon and Seth Rogan‘s Pumbaa steal the damn show, Donald Glover and Beyoncé unsurprisingly crush it as Simba and Nala respectively, and the film as a whole is what Mashable’s Angie J. Han called a “beat-to-beat remake of the original.”
#TheLionKing is exactly as advertised: a beat-for-beat remake of the original. Impressive animation and some ace casting choices (Beyoncé is a spirited Nala, John Oliver is an ideal Zazu) plus that music is still ???????? – but it’s more nostalgic rehash than fresh reimagining
— Angie J. Han (@ajhan) July 10, 2019
Holy smokes, I really loved THE LION KING. I think (I think) it’s the most beautiful effects movie I’ve seen. Like next level, the game has changed kind of thing. (For the record I’m agnostic on the original movie and have zero nostalgia for it. Anyway, this movie hooked me.)
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) July 10, 2019
#TheLionKing is visually and audibly astounding! I’ve never seen anything like that on an animation level. It’s so beautiful.
Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner really steal the show. Chiwetel Ejiofor is brilliant as Scar! It is so much fun. Great movie. pic.twitter.com/v62LHFIM7W
— Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) July 10, 2019
Been lucky to have attended a number of world premieres but not sure I've ever heard as much clapping during a movie as I did tonight at #TheLionKing . Was like being at a rock concert. Movie is going to make so much money. pic.twitter.com/rnU4qf92mt
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) July 10, 2019
Collider’s Perri Nemiroff, a Disney fan, was “happy to welcome back familiar chills, emotions and tears.”
#TheLionKing has always been my favorite Disney animated movie and this new rendition is a beautiful reminder why. Happy to welcome back familiar chills, emotions and tears. In awe of the visual wizards behind this one. Timon & Pumbaa are everything. pic.twitter.com/IcWHgjHCuF
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) July 10, 2019
IGN’s Terri Schwartz says it all: “if you’re hoping this will be a near-exact adaptation of the animated movie with some absolutely jaw-dropping visual effects, you’ll get what you’re looking for.”
There’s enough new content to make it feel fresh (plus some genuinely hilarious new jokes from Rogen/Eichner — no one made me laugh harder) and they really nailed recreating the most iconic sequences. I found myself walking out immediately wanting to watch the original.
— Terri Schwartz (@Terri_Schwartz) July 10, 2019
#TheLionKing is a breathtaking visual cinematic achievement. I can’t believe this is a CG animated movie. Timon and Pumbaa steal the show. It’s a good Disney remake but was it necessary? Maybe not, but it’s enjoyable and families are gonna love it.
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) July 10, 2019
The editor of Rotten Tomatoes, Jacqueline Coley, is a big fan.
I’m not exaggerating y’all
They killed it!
— Jacqueline – ROTTEN TOMATOES WROTE A BOOK! (@THATJacqueline) July 10, 2019
The Lion King is a wonderful adaptation of an iconic classic. It has a few small changes which enhance what was already great and everything else is right on point. The CG can be slightly distracting at times but the emotion quickly covers that. Loved it. pic.twitter.com/9QmsP3PmNh
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) July 10, 2019
#TheLionKing combines gorgeously realistic CG with heart, humor and the same story/beats of the original. It also captures the same magical feeling of the animated movie and remains faithful to its spirit. Most of the voice acting works well and the music once again stands out.
— Dennis Tzeng (@ThinkHero) July 10, 2019
I just got out of #TheLionKing and really dug it. My fear was realistic animals wouldn’t have the charisma of the cartoon, but they’re very good. Timon and Pumba steal the show. Some of the song/choreo arrangements don’t work as well as the original but still a really fun flick. pic.twitter.com/mOrODQ0vHI
— Chris E. Hayner (@ChrisHayner) July 10, 2019
So the new #thelionking is a visual work of art. Favreau is becoming a master of this type of filmmaking. The story is pretty much the same, no real changes from the 1994 animated but the emotion is still all there. Cast crushes it. Such a talented cast and a lot of new laughs.
— Kristian Harloff (@KristianHarloff) July 10, 2019
— Rachel Heine (@RachelHeine) July 10, 2019
TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven straight up called it a “visual masterpiece” that will “leave you smiling and crying the whole time.”
Oh man #TheLionKing delivers. It’s a visual masterpiece that will leave you smiling and crying the whole time. It’s a true testament to the lasting effect Disney movies have on all generations. Timon and Pumbaa steal the show. And BEYONCE!!! #LionKing
— Beatrice Verhoeven (@bverhoev) July 10, 2019
Not everyone loved it though. For example, Vox’s Emily VanDerWerff tweeted:
The Lion King (2019): The cinematic equivalent of sitting in traffic.
— Emily VanDerWerff (@tvoti) July 11, 2019
And then there’s the question of the CGI, which some critics liked and others had issues with.
#TheLionKing is a landmark *visual* experience. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I think it’s going to change how we look at movies forever.
As an *emotional* experience, though…I’ll put it this way: It turns out lions can’t really emote.
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) July 10, 2019
Favreau’s Lion King also stars John Oliver as Zazu, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, John Kani as Rafiki, and the legendary James Earl Jones returns as Mufasa. Renowned composer Hans Zimmer is behind the music.
The Lion King will hit Aussie cinemas July 17.Image: Disney