The Lion King is a timeless classic. It’s a movie that has maintained relevance over several decades. The original was released in 1994, earning $968.5 million at the box office. 25 years later, one of the most popular animated films in modern history is taking a victory lap — this time with superstars like Beyoncé and Donald Glover taking the reigns starring as Nala and Simba. Even for superstars like Bey and Gambino, those are pretty heavy paw prints to fill.
A history 25 years deep makes a film like this almost fail-proof. Millennials and Gen Z alike have experienced the original along with several of its renditions in Lion King 2, and 1 ½. Yes in that order. There was even an animated series made that ran for 85 episodes between 1995 and 1999. Essentially, Lion King fans are adults, and some even have children. Either way, we’re more than happy to dive into some nostalgia while introducing the 2000s babies to a classic.
The Lion King has returned to unsurprisingly great reviews. “Breathtaking,” “beautiful,” “visually immaculate,” and “stunning” were just a few words used to describe viewers’ cinematic experience. However, reviews weren’t 100% positive. In this adaption of the film the creators used CGI technology. CGI stands for computer-generated imagery, and while films like Avatar took the concept and made incredible work, this type of animation didn’t necessarily bode well when the primary characters are animals. When lions start speaking English, it’s a little difficult to just run with it no matter how powerful the imagery is. As one viewer put it, the movie was a landmark visual experience, but it turns out that, emotionally, lions just can’t necessarily bring it home.
Beyond the film itself, reviews came in strong for the cultural awareness shown in the film’s musical efforts. The soundtrack entitled The Lion King: The Gift was produced by none other than Beyoncé herself. Needless to say, the Queen made sure the soundtrack was outfitted with its proper African roots in combination with several other genres, according to a statement by Queen Bey.
“This is a new experience of storytelling,” she said. “I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film. It is a mixture of genres and collaboration that isn’t one sound. It is influenced by everything from R&B, pop, hip hop and Afro Beat.”
The only way to get a feel for the film is to see it yourself. Lion King hits theaters on July 18th, and if you’re like me you’ll be first in line for tickets. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Simba put the paws on Scar one more time?