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YMMV / The Lion King (2019)

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  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Banzai and Ed being renamed as Kamari and Azizi, respectively, as the two were the only characters in the original film to have non-Swahili names.note 
    • The teaser trailer, though largely lauded for its visuals, received some criticism for its color palette and lighting not looking as vivid and surreal as the original’s iteration of “Circle of Life”. The Academy Awards TV spot showed off improved lighting and color, confirming that the visuals are far from being done.
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    • In the Hakuna Matata montage, a close look shows Pumbaa's fur becoming slightly greyer, along with Timon and Pumbaa walking slightly slower when Simba is an adolescent/full-grown adult, showing that Simba and Nala aren't the only characters who visibly age. Scar starting out with a tawny mane and growing a black mane when he takes over the Pride Lands is also partly due to aging.
    • From the first teaser trailer, an Indian rhino could be seen amongst the crowd of animals bowing at Simba's presentation, marking a big case of Misplaced Wildlife. One of the latter TV spots released before the film shows that the animal has been replaced with an appropriate African species of rhino. It’s possible that the Indian rhino was used because the completed asset from The Jungle Book was being used as a placeholder until the African rhino’s model was finished.
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    • As with other Disney remakes, this one tries to patch up a few plot holes that the original movie had:
      • In the original movie, Nala suddenly running into Simba came off as a bit of an Ass Pull. This movie adds an extra scene that shows her escape (with Zazu's help) and explains her motivation for choosing to stray so far from Pride Rock (to find help in overthrowing Scar).
      • Zigzagged with Zazu’s situation regarding Scar’s cover-up at the gorge. In the original movie, before Scar kills Mufasa, he knocks Zazu out after he gets on Scar's nerves, which raises questions as to why Zazu would never bring this up afterward (that is, if he is able to even remember that Scar was the one who knocked him out). In this remake, Scar simply orders Zazu to go back to the pride and seek assistance, taking care of him without raising any suspicions.
      • Rather than holding Zazu captive like he did in the original film, Scar and the Hyena's rather explicitly try and eat Zazu anytime they catch wind that he has returned to pride rock. This also potentially covers the other loose end of Zazu leaking that Scar was actually at the gorge during the stampede. Also, having Zazu trying to help the pride meant that Scar knew the pride could come any minute, explaining why he didn't have time to kill Simba and then hide all the evidence.
      • Some were bothered by how none of the lionesses bothered standing up to Scar in the animated movie while he was tyrannically ruling over all of them. This movie makes it clear that doing so would get them killed by Scar through the help of his hyena comrades, and besides, as Sarabi indicates, Scar is by all appearances the rightful king, so only Simba (at this point still presumed dead) really has the right to challenge him.
      • We get a better glimpse of how Simba escaped Scar's grasp after the latter admits to killing Mufasa. In the original, it was done at a seemingly impossible angle. In this movie, Simba bites into Scar's mane, and when the latter backs up in an attempt to escape his nephew's grasp, he unintentionally pulls Simba back onto Pride Rock.
      • Scar now makes an excuse for why he brings the hyenas into the Pridelands – to aid in the land's protection, presumably because, as a smaller, weaker lion, he lacks the fighting prowess Mufasa had. The original Scar made no such attempt to justify his disastrous choice to the lionesses.
      • This version directly explains that hyenas are banned from the Pride Lands because they refuse to control their hunting habits, rather than making it look like they are arbitrarily excluded from the Circle of Life. Scar even says that the Elephant Graveyard was more green before the hyenas overhunted it into its current state.
      • Scar claims that with the lions and hyena's overhunting it will mean he goes unchallenged. Better explaining why the overhunting was done in the first place and why he refuses to move the pride beyond sheer negligence at best because he's the villain at worst.
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    • Like other Disney villains of the time, Scar had some queer aspects, specially in the "Be Prepared" song. As Disney received backlash from this later on, Scar loses his queer side in this version, showing interest in the lionesses just like in the deleted scenes and the Broadway show, and acts more perpetually angry and serious. And to avoid the inherent creepiness of Scar forcing his advances upon Nala, the movie makes Sarabi to be Scar's romantic interest, giving the queen of the Pride Lands more focus than in the original movie in the process.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The teaser trailer makes "Circle of Life" sound even more epic than the original, especially with those orchestral swells.
    • The official trailer features glorious re-imaginings of Hans Zimmer's "King of Pride Rock" and Lebo M's "Busa". Even the new Timon and Pumbaa rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" at the end of the trailer is fun to listen to.
    • The fifth TV spot is set to a gorgeous rendition of “This Land”, the main orchestral theme of the original filmnote , starting with a warm, beautiful piano solo before transitioning to a beautiful crescendo.
    • The all-Zulu version of "He Lives in You" (originally from the Rhythm of the Pride Lands album and featured in the musical and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride) that plays during the credits was a welcome surprise.
    • Elton John's new song exclusive to the remake Never Too Late
  • "Common Knowledge": Everyone says this is a part of the "Live-Action Remake" line but it isn't, Disney never said it would be in live-action but they did say it would be made with the same photorealistic technology they used to make The Jungle Book (2016). That said, Jon Favreau refuses to call the film animated either, despite it technically being an animated film, making the confusion understandable. To be precise, it's filmed with live-action cameras and green screen in a virtual-reality environment, as explained in this video, though there is reportedly one single live-action shot in the film to see if audiences could tell the difference.note  This became quite ironic when the film set a new record for the highest grossing opening weekend for an animated film, but no one paid any attention because they weren’t thinking of it as one.
  • Complete Monster: Scar is a wrathful and bitter lion driven by an insatiable desire for power. Envious of his brother Mufasa's position as king, Scar attempts to have Mufasa's son Simba—Scar's own nephewkilled by tricking him into entering the domain of the vicious hyena clan. When this fails, Scar allies with the hyenas and orchestrates a wildebeest stampede, killing Mufasa and blaming Simba for the tragedy, exiling him before sending the hyenas to finish him off. Taking over as king, Scar reduces the Pridelands to a barren wasteland by killing everything with no restrictions in addition to starving the lionesses when Sarabi, Mufasa's widow, refuses to become his mate. When Simba returns, Scar attempts to kill him personally, stopping only to tauntingly reveal his role in Mufasa's death. When his crimes are exposed, Scar orders the hyenas to kill everyone in sight, and when Simba has him at his mercy, attempts to blame them for his crimes.
  • Critical Dissonance: As with Aladdin (2019), the film has earned a rotten score from critics at Rotten Tomatoes but earned better reviews from many audiences and fans alike. Specifically, it has a 52% on the critic's score and a 89% from audiences who were confirmed to have purchased a ticket.
  • Critical Backlash: While reception to the film has been mostly mixed and many agree that it is an inferior film to the original, some of the hyperbole around the film, such as the film's existence and profitability being seen as signs that the movie industry is failing and the infamous "it ruined my childhood" sentiment due its inferior nature to the original, being expressed by numerous video essays and internet personalities, is being seen as getting blown out of proportion. While many are unhappy with the amount of Disney remakes, their profitability and lower standards than the originals, many agree that, like the direct-to-video sequels, it is just a phase that Disney will grow out of and has even been repeated by several other studios in the past and that just because Disney is doing it with their most famous material doesn't mean they should be the biggest target for ridicule.
  • Critic-Proof: Despite repeated bashing from critics and general animation fans, the film still managed to become the highest grossing animated movie of all time, bringing in $1.3 billion worldwide and beating Frozen's previously held record by less than $50 million. Though many guessed from the off that, despite criticism, it would likely turn a profit since this is Disney after all and a remake of a beloved classic.
  • Dancing Bear: Many reviews accuse it of being more of a tech demo than a movie, going out of its way to maintain the illusion that these are real animals in real settings with them never doing anything that the animals wouldn't be capable of besides talking. They also hope that now that the animation technology has been given this test run using an already popular story, it can be put to better use going forward.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Even the movie's biggest critics admitted that Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa are as enjoyable as ever. Ignoring Pumbaa's Nightmare Fuel design, that is.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • One has popped up with The Jungle Book (2016), which makes sense since they are both Disney movies featuring talking animals that share the same director. The Lion King is rather unfavorably compared to it, due to the former being considered the best of the Disney Remakes, since the original Jungle Book is in-name only adaptation, while The Lion King is, for the most part, its own story, which still holds up to this day, so the idea of remaking it makes no sense for many. The facial animation is also compared, some argue that the animals in The Jungle Book look way more lively in comparison, despite the movie coming out three years earlier.
    • Another has popped up with the Frozen fandom, due to this movie dethroning it as the highest grossing animated movie. Even people who didn't like Frozen support their reaction, since they hate the Disney remakes more. Others point out that Frozen still is the highest grossing animated movie, due to the Flip-Flop of God whether Lion King counts as animated.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The film presents the hyenas as far more than just Scar's lackeys, being their own separate society who he approaches for help. And at the film's end many of them, including their leader Shenzi, are still alive and Simba will need to continue maintaining the uneasy truce with them as king.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • When Simba returns to Pride Rock, Zazu finds Simba alive much earlier than the original and expresses disbelief. Simba happily greets him and Zazu warmly welcomes him home and bows to him.
      • Before that, when Simba gets in trouble with Mufasa for going into the Elephant Graveyard, Zazu comes to Simba's defense by pleading with Mufasa to not be so hard on him, saying that he knows a certain headstrong cub who's gotten into scraps and achieved some prominence.
    • As before, Mufasa's ghost comes to bring Simba out of his misery and inspires him to return to Pride Rock. This time, Mufasa has an added line saying that what he is most proud of as king is having Simba as his son.
    Simba: Please, don't leave me again!
    Mufasa: I never left you, and never will.
    • A brief one, but at the end of the film where Rafiki presents Simba's and Nala's cub, Timon and Pumbaa aren't next to Simba like they were at the original film. Instead, they're watching from the sides, and it looks like Simba invited the other residents of their home to be members of the Pridelands.
    • While the choice to remove any anthropomorphizing so as to make the animal characters more true-to-life also means eliminating human-like embraces, the emotive gesture where Rafiki greets Mufasa during the "Circle of Life" (and its Call-Back with Simba just before he ascends Pride Rock as king) is still rather moving: gently placing a hand on his forehead and stroking down the bridge of his nose.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Favreau's last work with Disney drew some attention due to casting many actors who had also appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.note  He appears to be continuing this tradition here by casting Donald Glover (who appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming)note  as Simba, John Kani (who plays King T'Chaka in Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther) as Rafiki, Alfre Woodard (who also appears in Civil War and Luke Cagenote ) as Sarabi, Florence Kasumba (who plays T'Challa's bodyguard Ayo in Civil War, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity Warnote ) as Shenzi, and even Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo from Doctor Strange) as Scar.
    • Darth Vader is playing the father of Lando Calrissian. How's that for a plot twist?
      • If counted as another plot twist. Darth Vader plays the father of Lando Calrissian and the brother of Agent Kallus.
    • Alfre Woodard being cast as Sarabi after she previously portrayed another beloved Disney mother back in Dinosaur as Plio (that film also starred photorealistic CGI animals and, coincidentally, featured music by Lebo M.).
    • John Kani's casting as Rafiki as Kani played King T'Chaka in Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, an African king who was tragically killed much like Mufasa. He also played a supporting role in another lion-centered film The Ghost And The Darkness - a movie which features a lead character holding up his infant son high, a scene that hearkens to Rafiki holding Simba.
    • In his first major role of 2019, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Trywell Kamkwamba, the father of the titular character in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. While based on an autobiographical novel that has nothing to do with The Lion King, it is an interesting coincidence that in both stories Ejiofor's characters inherit African lands upon the deaths of their brothers that they later stubbornly refuse to abandon (albeit for different motivations) when drought-induced famines hit the region, and both play an antagonistic role against the efforts of their respective stories' heroes to save the community from the effects of said drought. The biggest kicker though? The hero of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is played by Maxwell Simba.
    • One of the big criticisms laid at the movie right before its release was its decision to have the animals appear like they would in nature, and that Disney should have done more to make them have more anthropomorphic features. Upon release, the infamous trailer for Cats was attached with the film, and the Uncanny Valley in the ad serves as what is unintentionally Disney's best argument that they were right to not take that approach.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Pumbaa and Timon are even more Like an Old Married Couple than before, also aided by Billy Eichner’s performance occasionally slipping into a Paul Lynde impression.
    • Azizi really wants to be as close as possible to Kamari for no explained reason.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The biggest criticism of the film is that it's almost a shot-for-shot remake, bringing little new to the table apart from the more realistic visuals.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Some memes have gone around joking that they don't want a remake because they don't want to have to go through the dramatic moments and Tear Jerkers of the original film all over again.
    • Beyoncé's casting as Nala led to many memes revolving around her (particularly the “Beyoncé?!?” meme).
    • The fact that Animals Lack Attributes is in full play has drawn a fair share of jokes from the fandom.
    • Disney: You gonna see The Lion King remake?
      Me: NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHExplanation 
    • The film — despite being one of Disney's most high profile projects in years — getting such a middling critical reception resulted in some fans bringing up the old accusations of Disney bribing critics, saying they must have forgotten to send out the checks this time.
    • Considering how bafflingly restrained Eric Andre is during most of the press surrounding the movie, fans joked about how Eric is constantly being watched by Disney assassins to be on his best behavior in the lead-up to the film.
    • This fancomic isn't the only time fans have had Azizi quote some of Eric Andre's best bits.
    • John Oliver has said that "Invisible Beyonce" has become something of a running in-joke amongst the cast, due to her being absent for a cast photo, but photoshopped in later.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: In the teaser trailer, hearing James Earl Jones once again voicing Mufasa and Lebo M's iconic opening chant from "Circle Of Life" can bring a tear to one's eye.
  • Narm:
    • The sequence where Rafiki finds out Simba is alive. In the original, he comes across some pollen carrying Simba's scent; here, he finds a piece of his mane... after an Overly Long Gag of the mane floating down a river, being carried by a bird, eaten by a giraffe, ending up in said giraffe's dung, the dung being rolled across the desert by a dung beetle, and finally being carried by some ants that happen to pass by Rafiki's tree.
    • While Beyonce's musical contributions to the film have been praised, her actual performance as Nala has not been so warmly received. Beyonce's delivery is stilted and lifeless, making her character's more serious moments feel boring and almost comical as a result.
    • When Simba and Nala reunite, Nala instantly recognizes Simba the moment he recognizes her, rather than realistically being confused at first like in the original. This despite the fact that she thought Simba was dead and he's now a grown lion who looks completely different from his cub self. Then she rejoices for only about five seconds before she turns serious and tells Simba that he has to come home. Her change of tone is so abrupt it can come off as comical. Similarly, after "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" is over, they have their argument which lasts for a few seconds before Nala decides she "made a mistake" and walks off, again happening so quickly after the love song it can be hard to take seriously.
    • The voice-acting is top notch work. The photo-realistic CGI is breathtaking. They often do not work together, as only three or four of the film's myriad animals seem like they get actual emotive faces. This leads to young Simba looking rather awkward when his father falls to his death; the cry is heart-wrenching, but the face looks... like a kitten meowing.
    • About half of the rewritten "Be Prepared" is Scar simply shouting the title over and over, actually kind of sounding like more new lyrics were supposed to go there but then they hit the deadline and just threw a bunch of "Be Prepared"s in.
    • The iconic "Long live the King" moment is often ridiculed, due to Chiwetel Ejiofor's awkward reading of the line, and then slapping Mufasa in the face instead of throwing him. It doesn't help that the original scene is one of the most dramatic moments of not only the movie, but of Disney animation overall, which was really hard to live up to. James Earl Jones' "Scar... help me!" and falling scream as Mufasa also sound awkward and stilted compared to the raw terror he expressed in the original.
    • The opening of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" comes completely out of nowhere, feeling like there should have been at least a couple extra seconds to build that it's time for another song. Also, Pumbaa's brief and funny interjections from the original are expanded to pure Don't Explain the Joke territory. Furthermore, the scene takes place in broad daylight, which clash heavily with the song's chorus and the line "the sweet caress of twilight".
  • Narm Charm: Others find the floating mane sequence to be epic, and one of the more original flourishes in an otherwise shot-for-shot remake. It could be favorably compared to the Journey of the Egg sequence from Dinosaur, Disney's first stab at photo-realistic animation. It also very much connects to the "circle of life" theme showing how the animals' interconnected lives make it possible, without overly spelling it out.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Mufasa's death scene is, for the most part, done faithfully. However, instead of just tossing him into the ravine, Scar sends him to his demise by slapping him in the face. And while Mufasa's yell as he falls in the original is physically and emotionally agonizing, his yell in this version sounds almost bored in comparison.
  • Older Than They Think: Most associate "He Lives In You" (which plays over the credits in Swahili) with the sequel when the song was originally featured on "Rhythm of the Pridelands", which features music unused in the original film and was later re-purposed for the musical.
  • Padding: The 88 minutes of the original are stretched to two hours. While there are a few plot additions (many of whom floating are listed on Author's Saving Throw), it's often accomplished by long pans of the painstakingly rendered scenery and making scenes longer than they were originally - along with the above mentioned mane sequence, which even cuts to black before the dung beetle, the mouse in Scar's introductory scene is seen wandering through the Pride Lands before entering the lion's den.
  • Snark Bait:
  • So Okay, It's Average: Reviews cite it's a technical marvel in photo-realistic animation, and cite certain characters such as Zazu, Kamari and Azizi (Banzi and Ed in the original, see Author Saving Throw above), and especially Timon and Pumbaa to still be a delight even with new voice actors and in CGI. But that's essentially all it has going for it. The story is beat for beat that of the 1994 original and despite the extra runtime doesn't change a lot — in some cases even shortening certain segments such as "Be Prepared" — and general consensus is you're not missing much if you want to skip this movie aside from the different medium, making it something of a Dancing Bear.
  • Tear Jerker: Say what you will about this film, but the film still has plenty of heartwrenching moments despite its realism.
    • Mufasa's death as always. This time, when Simba tries to wake him up, he scratches him with his paw, like a little kitten.
    • This version deals with Simba's Adaptational Angst Upgrade after Mufasa's death. He often refers to himself as a nobody, showing that he's gained some serious self image and self esteem issues, which can be heartwrenching for those who has dealt with similar issues.
      • Speaking of which, before Scar forces Simba off the cliff after his Breaking Speech, there's this exchange:
      Scar: Are you the king?! You're what?! SAY IT!
      Simba: (broken whisper) ...I'm nothing.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Some of the most notable changes include, but are not limited to:
    • "Be Prepared" has been given new lyrics, but is incredibly short compared to the original. It's also not performed with nearly as much gusto as the original and more of a spoken work version rather than singing some of the lines, which left some viewers disappointed.
    • The hyenas are changed from being comedic villainous sidekicks to serious and dark and more threatening figures. This didn't sit well with fans of the hyenas, claiming that it was possible to have made them more legitimately threatening while still keeping their funny bantering. Many are also disappointed with how Kamari and Azizi are nowhere near as expressive and have less personality than Banzai and Ed did.
    • In the original film where Scar kills Mufasa, he acts like he's going to save him, but sinks his claws into his claws saying his Long live the king line and letting go, while in this version, he mostly does the same thing, but he knocks him off by slashing his face to knock him into the ravine which feels a little overkill.
    • The "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" song and sequence takes place entirely in the middle of the day, making the scene feel very weird since the song lyrics make several references to "night" and "twilight", and the original scene took place in the late afternoon and twilight to match this.
    • Simba goes and hears his dad's voice in the clouds like in the original version, but apart from brief flashes of lightning showing the outline of Mufasa's head, it's all you see of him and all Simba looks at otherwise is clouds. This was apparently done for 'realism', but a lot of viewers felt it was far less visually impressive and didn't pack as much of an emotional punch as Mufasa's spirit dramatically appearing in the night sky, especially as it's one of the most iconic scenes from the original. Though some did cite appreciating the added dialogue from Mufasa at least.
    • The funny, yet meaningful scene where Rafiki hits Simba with his staff to show how the past can hurt, "but you can still learn from it", is completely removed. The staff doesn't even make an appearance until the climax as Rafiki brings it out solely to fight the hyenas with it. Viewers were especially annoyed by this removal because the lesson Rafiki teaches to Simba in this scene strengthens Simba's resolve to return to the Pride Lands and helps drive home one of the story's main Aesops.
    • The famous stampede scene in the original took place in a great canyon, with what appeared to be hundreds of wildebeest stampeding throughout the scene. In the remake, the giant canyon is greatly reduced in size, making it look like the wildebeest are just running down a hill towards Simba, and their numbers are far from as impressive and intimidating as the original gave off. It ironically makes realistic wildebeest thundering after Simba look less scary than the animated wildebeest did.
    • The triumphant score played over Simba racing back to Pride Rock is replaced with the song "Spirit" in the adaptation. While "Spirit" isn't a bad song, it doesn't quite have the same, triumphant tone that the original scene did.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Shenzi being an Adaptational Badass and the hyenas' leader starts out quite intriguing, but ultimately little is done with it beyond giving Nala a Designated Girl Fight which doesn't even get a real conclusion.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Not only against the original film, but the remake of Aladdin that came out a few months prior. While that also didn't hold up to the original, the glut of remakes — plus an adaptation that allowed for a little more freedom in looks and character — to some makes The Lion King just another in a string, and tired of the constant remakes.
    • For director Jon Favreau, the film is seen as a step down from The Jungle Book (2016), which is considered by some to be better than the film that it's a remake of. You'd be hard-pressed to find that similar opinion of his take on The Lion King compared to the original film, and not just because it's so beloved.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Some expressed concern that the character designs are too realistic, and argue that the characters look lifeless in comparison to the animated version and that the film looks more like a nature documentary than an epic movie. Pumbaa's design, in particular, was called horrifying, as many people used to the cute cartoony version of him did not realize how ugly real-life warthogs are.
    • Some merchandise, such as this Sing-a-Long set, made ahead of the time for the movie looks extremely awkward and not out of place compared to packaging seen on bootleg products. All of the characters look way off, even compared to their official art, with Pumbaa being awkwardly designed to the point where he has been compared to a scrotum. Even minus that, his coloring is way off, being much blacker in the actual movie and not the bluish depiction on the product.
    • Reviews listed this as a major shortcoming of the film. The 2D animated version allowed the characters a full range of expressions to convey emotion, but this version sacrifices them to be more photo-realistic. The expressions look stilted, with only the characters' tones and body language to really go by. Even several of the reviews listed as positive state that the film has the gorgeous photo-realism and nostalgia going for it—and not much else.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The film is being brought to life using the same photo-realistic, Academy Award-winning CGI that Favreau used for The Jungle Book. According to reports from the D23 Expo, which took place an entire two years before the film's release, the CGI was already just as astonishing as that seen in The Jungle Book. Indeed, early reviews cite it as one more admirable traits of the film.
    • The teaser trailer alone is nothing short of breathtaking. The Academy Awards spot is also quite impressive with tuned-up colors and lighting in shots from the teaser trailer.
    • While the animals may not be as expressive as the original animated film, they are far more expressive than the trailers and clips released have suggested - with a winning combination of facial expressions and body language on all the animals. The lions and hyenas are particularly emotive.
    • Regarding the 3D: while the 1994 film is considered one of the best post-conversion efforts of all time, the shot of Zazu flying to Pride Rock during the opening number isn't a reverse Paddleball Shot (i.e. Zazu flying away from the camera while still appearing to soar directly above the audience) here like it was in the original film. No, like Avatar this film focuses more on the depth side of things, and it's still just as spectacular.
  • Vocal Minority: While the movie has received some of the most outspoken disdain out of any of Disney's remakes — even by the standards of said remakes — the film is also unquestionably the most successful out of any of them, with a global box office total that's likely to rival The Avengers (2012) by the time the movie is finished with its run in theaters.
  • Win the Crowd:
    • James Earl Jones reprises his role of Mufasa. Of all the actor's fans wanted to see back, Jones was one of the chief players because he's so damn iconic and irreplaceable, and his casting was warmly received.
    • The first teaser trailer was shown at the D23 Expo, which was a frame-for-frame recreation of the iconic "Circle of Life" scene. Needless to say, many people were brought to tears at how amazing the film looked.
    • Hans Zimmer returns to compose the score for the film, pleasing many since The Lion King is the score that put Zimmer on the map.
    • Elton John and Tim Rice returning to rework their original contributions to the film has won a lot of praise from fans of the original film. Even better, John is also working with Beyoncé on a new song, plus Mark Mancina and Lebo M. returned to help with arrangements to ensure the film's authentically African musical tapestry.
    • Julie Taymor being tapped as executive producer was a pleasant surprise and can be seen as a welcome attempt to bring in proper oversight to make sure the film is true to the original.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • In addition to Scar sending in the hyenas to kill Simba (which was already a What an Idiot! moment in the 1994 film), this also throws a huge one to Shenzi, a character who's supposed to be a No-Nonsense Nemesis in this one. After Scar tasks them into killing Simba, Simba falls down a cliff and even though Simba could have died, Shenzi isn't convinced that Simba is dead.
      You'd Expect: Shenzi to actually go down the cliff or go with a pack of hyenas to make sure that the deed is done and Scar's rule remains unopposed.
      Instead: Shenzi instead asks Kamari and Azizi to check if Simba's dead or not. She doesn't even decide to check herself either or even watch the two hyenas, just leaving the task to these two alone.
      What Ends Up Happening: This leads to the events of Simba somehow surviving thanks to Timon and Pumbaa, and along with Nala leaving the Pridelands to find help (thanks to some intervention from Zazu), we know what ends up happening from here.
    • Unlike in the original film, Scar is quite easily baited into publicly ranting about how he watched Mufasa die. While he's savvy enough to still whisper to Simba that he actually did the deed, Sarabi quickly picks up on the contradiction that he'd been claiming all this time to have arrived too late to save Mufasa.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Seth Rogen's casting as Pumbaa drew some raised eyebrows as Rogen generally plays more sarcastic, snarky characters as opposed to the sweeter natured Pumbaa. Particularly after an interview where Rogen revealed that he couldn't sing and Disney had to bring in Pharrell as a vocal coach. By the film's release, however, many critics who otherwise disliked the film had praise for Rogen's performance (if not his singing skills, which Rogen has candidly admitted are nonexistent).
    • Among the surviving original cast members fans wanted to return to reprise their roles, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jeremy Irons were right up there with James Earl Jones. Their absence has disappointed many, though both actors have expressed optimism for the remake nonetheless (and despite Irons' being slightly disappointed that he wasn't asked to return).
    • The casting of Eric Andre has raised a few eyebrows given his... unique brand of comedy shown on The Eric Andre Show, with some going so far as to wonder how the hell he was even considered by the scrupulously squeaky-clean Disney for one of their most iconic films.
    • In the Norwegian dub, Håvard Bakke, who had voiced adult Simba in the 1994 film, was brought back for the remake to this time voice Scar. This was not received well by the Norwegian fanbase as, even 25 years later, Bakke's voice is too familiar as Simba's and hearing it suddenly come from Scar instead is jarring, to say the least. For reference, it's basically as weird as if Matthew Broderick suddenly voiced Scar 25 years later. The voice is older, yes, but still all too recognizable.
    • Casting Beyoncé as adult Nala, who has been for a long while criticized for her acting and now voice acting especially post-movie release due to her line reading. While general consensus says that she was an amazing choice for the soundtrack, her voice work as the character is often seen as a point of contention.
      • Most of the voice actors, besides Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, and John Oliver (and even they have their detractors), in general are this. Depending on who you ask, their acting was great, it just didn't sync up to the emotionless animation, or they sound emotionless, like their doing a table read. Chiwetel Ejiofor in particular has been either praised for his take on Scar or scrutinized for "sounding like he's reading off of a script". What probably doesn't help is that so many people have gotten attached to Jeremy Irons in the role as well as the original cast that it is probably hard for them to see anyone else in these roles.

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