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SYFY WIRE The Lion King

First Lion King reactions call it one of the most visually stunning films ever made

By Josh Weiss
The Lion King 2019

NAAAAAANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA! Last night, Disney rolled out the red carpet for the world premiere of Jon Favreau's "live-action" remake of The Lion King. Soon after the credits rolled, the first reactions to the movie (out next week) started to roll in via Twitter.

And while several critics pointed out that the 2019 update is basically a shot-for-shot recreation of the 1994 original, no one could deny that it's still packed to the mane with emotion, amazing voice talent, and most importantly, dazzling visual effects that set a new standard for big-budgeted Hollywood productions. That's just the circle of life in the entertainment business: survival of the fittest effects.

Inspired by the story of Shakspeare's Hamlet, The Lion King tells the story of Simba (JD McCrary), young lion who is exiled from the Pride Lands after the untimely and tragic death of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). Running far from home, Simba is brought up (as an adult, he's voiced by Donald Glover) by a carefree duo comprised of a meerkat and warthog named Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen).

Years later, Simba reunites with his childhood friend, Nala (Beyoncé) who implores him to return to the Pride Lands, which have been usurped and abused by Simba's malicious uncle, Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and his hyena lackeys. Will Simba heed the noble call and take the throne that is rightfully his, or will he stay in the Hakuna Matata bubble to which he has become so accustomed? If you're from another planet or have just been living under a rock for the last 25 years, we won't spoil things here.

“I think this film is a culmination of all the live-action adaptations that Disney has done of their animated classics," Favreau said in April. "The idea of taking these characters and this music, just as the stage play took it, sticking closely to the story but reinventing it for a different medium… I thought that this technology would be separate enough from the animated film that it felt fresh and new, yet completely related to the original."

Written by Jeff Nathanson, the film also features the voice talents of John Kani (Rafiki), Alfre Woodard (Sarabi), John Oliver (Zazu), Amy Sedaris (an elephant shrew), Florence Kasumba (Shenzi), Eric Andre (Azizi), and Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari). 

The Lion King stampedes into theaters everywhere next Friday, July 19.