Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Circle of Life: Reviews of Disney The Lion King from Multi-Generational Families Across the Nation #TheLionKing

We made it a family affair and checked out Disney’s The Lion King, in theaters NOW! When I was a kid, I remember when big blockbuster movies hit theaters, our fam would rally up sometimes and go in big groups. I loved those moments so much because with tons of snacks in hand we'd fill rows of the theater with parents, grands, cousins, aunties, uncles and even the neighbor's kid from down the hall, LOL. 25 years later we knew we'd have to meet up to enjoy each others company amidst singing along and all of the laughter while watching this Disney classic unfold on the big screen once more. While scrolling through the #lionking on Instagram It was so awesome to see how many other families around the world journeyed to the pride lands, many rocking matching Lion King tees to see the film. 

With all the criticisms lately over the new genre of Disney live-action remakes (we're still not sure how to feel about the upcoming Mulan), we decided to go in with an open mind but definitely had high hopes that Director John Favreau would do one of our top 3 Disney films justice the way the animated 1994 classic gave us all the warm and fuzzy feels. To be honest, our multi-generational family of hard to impress Millenials and Gen-Z kids thought the new Lion King was a good family flick, despite any mixed reviews you've already heard or read. It's already made $185 million domestically this opening weekend, but is it really a must-see or are we all just buying tickets for the sake of nostalgia? We Chatted with other Disney loving families around the nation who shared their memories and thoughts on the movie.

Disney’s “The Lion King,” directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother— and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is fraught with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

The Circle of Life
Now that many of us are much older since the original release, I'm sure the Lion King resonates with us all so much differently. Time passes and in the midst of all the love-filled, lived in moments, we all grow up and journey on different paths. At the root of the film is the importance of family and leaving behind a legacy for the generations after us. Parents and children, spouses, siblings and friends may not always see eye to eye but we should know that no matter what, true loved ones will always be there for us, even in spirit to guide us. 
"I thought of the movie, in how it relates to our own lives. How happy and proud the new parents are. Then all it takes to survive and provide for your family. Family strife and the love and support you get and need from family at different stages and how important it is to be there for each other." - My mommy Sherah
With my 3-year-old nephew Quentin watching from the row in front of us with my sissy,  my heart sank during the infamous Mufasa cliff scene as I instantly reflected on the unexpected loss of his dad Jason, two years ago. And with the idea of entire families coming together in theaters around the world, I'm sure the film had many of us missing so many of our loved ones that we had to say goodbye to, some way too soon. At that moment all I could do was hope that my tribe was ok. We had all witnessed so much death over these last few years and as our parents and their siblings get older it's become that much more imperative that we spend as much quality time with them as possible. 

"When I was 7 this movie was out on VHS. That summer, I made my grandfather watch The Lion King and The Little Mermaid over and over and over again. I would recite the words and sing every song so excitedly and he would just sit there each time and grin with pride. Now that I'm an adult it was essential that I take my daughters so that they could experience that same joy. While some changes are welcomed, there are a few aspects that I wish were kept the same - the realism compromised the dancing around like in the animated classic.  I look forward to watching this on DVD repeatedly with my children and wish my grandfather were still here to watch it with him." - @jadaschest 

"My oldest daughter is 24 and of course in love with the Lion King so I had to bring her along with all my kids who didn't grow up with the original. Cast was amazing, action was great! Glad we got to see it as a family."  -@mrsjamellyoungs2015

The Visuals
Without a doubt, this 2019 version of The Lion King was beautifully made. I'm not really sure how you'd classify the film since it's not animated but features such advanced, photorealistic CGI technology. It was like watching a stunning Disney Nature movie with realistic animals that broke out into song. I'd bet you didn't know this but there's one single scene that's not technologically created and actually real. Can you guess which one? After the movie was finished, our teen CJ came over to me and said he felt like he was in the middle of the jungle on a real-life safari where you could see the lion manes blowing in the wind, it was incredible. 

"I had to see this movie with my family because my mom and dad took my brother and me to see it when I was younger. I wanted to share this experience with my kids, niece, nephew, brother, sister in law and my mother. A mini circle of life. I loved this film from the opening, until the end. The nostalgia of watching a film that I love with my kids and seeing the look on their faces and hearing them sing the songs made me a little teary eyed." - @simplytiffanycunningham 

If you remember our trailer reaction video then you saw how hyped the boys and I were to have Donald Glover (adult Simba) & Beyonce (adult Nala) in the film. Although we can't deny their amazing singing talents, surprisingly their roles weren't ones that wowed us. Their delivery was good but personally, I had such a hard time separating the songstress's southern accent from the lioness she voiced. However, it was cool to see how Nala's character had more shine as a fierce and independent future leader of the pride lands. 

 Beyonce's song "Spirit" should certainly go on to be a contender for an Oscar nomination and her entire album "The Gift" is literally that, a masterpiece that showcases pride and culture and now a new favorite for our 8-year-old Tristan to dance off of. 

"My daughter was a huge a Beyonce fan & she recently passed from an asthma attack while away at school. She was a junior at Howard. So our family went in honor of her. WE LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE. #4EverSamya" - @kunfused

Timon and Pumba
The stars in our opinion and who've always been my favorites were Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumba (Seth Rogen), who's comedic partnership truly brought the most energy and charm in a really natural way.  Although they weren't at all adorable to look at, It was cute to hear some of the duo's old jokes mixed with new ones that had all of us laughing in our seats. My dad agreed that their humor definitely lightened the mood and brought some relief to the drama that played out on the big screen, especially with him realizing that some scenes seemed more darker and violent then what he remembered from the original. 

"Our littlest, who is 22 months old is obsessed with the movie and music and wants to carry around his stuffed animal Simba everywhere. We'd been anticipating this movie since the trailer first came out. The kids really loved the Hakuna Matata sog and the last battle with scar, which was longer than the original and very dramatic." - @nicbanda

Scar and the Hyenas
Who doesn't love a good villain right? Voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Scar appears to be way mangier and emaciated looking, it's tough when you know you've been skipped over for a seat at the thrown by your cute and cuddly little nephew who rubs it in your face that he'll be ruling the kingdom, including you someday. Despite his angry, vengeful demeanor you can't help but feel bad for him and this time around he seemed a lot scarier to me. Beware of one scene where's he's tearing away at an antelope that may freak little ones out. Another noticeable difference was that the hyenas Shenzi (Florence Kasumba), Azizi (Eric Andre) and Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key) weren't nearly as funny as they were in the 90's version, which was purposeful. In Swahili Shenzi means "savage" and she was just that, these hyenas felt dangerous - not anyone you'd want to run into on the Savana. 

My brother Jay, hubby Mike, and the teen CJ and I only wished that the iconic song "Be Prepared" would have had a more robust, climactic moment. It's such a big song for his character and we only got a small taste of its sinister lyrics before it's almost abruptly cut short. It was like Scar was literally yelling at us and trying to convince us of his ambitions while the hyenas chanted the song title and left us wanting more! Post movie viewing I wish I would have been quick enough to whip out my phone to record my family doing the background sounds the way it should have been done, the new version wasn't nearly as bone-chilling as we needed it to be while echoing through an elephant graveyard. 

"We had to see The Lion King because it connected our childhood with our children. Today we watched the 2019 version and it was way more than just a movie! BUT they butchered Be Prepared! Our three year old son Kayson really really wanted to see The Lion King and that's his favorite song. We all sat at the edge of our seats waiting for the song and were left with a version that definitely had nothing on the original. It's a bigger song than people realize! I don't think they thought many people would care if it was changed, they should have asked us first! Lol."  - @thenealsnextdoor

 Overall we thought the movie was good a one! The storyline stayed true to the original and my sissy said she loved it even more than the first. It's so funny sitting through a Disney film with the hubby or anyone who knows most of the film, line-for-line because they're the toughest critiques. Whether you're going for the nostalgia or just want to see how the state-of-the-art virtual-reality tools and the highest-level CG animated effects compare, you'll enjoy it, so go see it with the fam and create some new memories! 

Thank you bunches to all of the families who allowed us to use their images & quotes!

Have you seen it yet? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments. 

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