THE LION KING Review — The Circle of Remarkable CGI Life

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The Lion King review — Not exactly a roaring success, but good enough.

The Lion King reviewIs it possible to be awed by incredible special effects and bored at the same time?

Disney’s latest rendition of The Lion King definitively answers that question. While the stunning computer generated realism of the animals is astounding, you’ve seen the story and heard the music so many times you know exactly what’s coming next. With very few new, original or creative touches, there’s not much to hold your interest once you’ve gotten over the fact that those amazing animals are not real.

Which brings me to another observation about the latest reboot of a Disney classic. It’s being called a live action version of the animated film, but there’s nothing “live” in it. Technically, all the computer generated images are animated, so that makes it an animated feature, doesn’t it? Does it really matter?

My favorite version of The Lion King is the stage version. The puppets, masks and costumes are wondrous—unlike anything we’d ever seen before. This film version is not unlike anything we’ve seen before—it’s all so realistic it almost looks like a documentary. I would have loved to see director John Favreau infuse more fantasy and wonder, as he did with the live action version of the Jungle Book.

I did appreciate the updated banter between Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogan). At least there’s that. As for the rest of the voice cast? Some are strong, some are not. It becomes clear very quickly which cast members have the most experience and talent in this arena.

Now, in spite of a few disappointments, there is not doubt in my mind that Disney fans and children alike will be thrilled by this latest version of The Lion King. I know, because I was surrounded by them in the screening I attended, and they were practically swooning in ecstasy. And that’s just fine—this film was made for them, not for persnickety critics like me.

If this The Lion King review makes you want to pounce on tickets, get them in advance at

Rated PG

1 Hour 50 Minutes

The Lion King review — Not exactly a roaring success, but good enough.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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