The Lion King Reviews: Forget What You've Heard, They're Not All That Bad

Here's what the critics are *really* saying about the live-action remake of the 1994 Disney animation.

If you were to believe everything you read on Twitter, you’d think all the reviews for the upcoming remake of The Lion King were terrible.

Users on the social media site have been having a bit of a field day, suggesting that critics have mauled Disney’s reimagining of their classic 1994 animation.

In actual fact, the film has fared rather well in the reviews, and while they’re not all handing out five-stars, there’s still a lot of praise for how faithful the story is to the original and how impressive it it visually.

Here’s a full round up of what that critics are saying...


The Sun (5/5)

“Rebooting one of their most valuable assets was a risky decision, but this CGI update of The Lion King is as close to faultless as you’ll get.

“I can’t think of a second of the nearly two hours that was lacking. It was moving, funny, terrifying and foot-tapping. The quintessential Disney movie presented to you in industry defining clarity. A game-changer.”

“The short report: Disney haven’t slipped up. They already have the top five highest-grossing films this year and The Lion King is a cert to be among them.

“The adaptation is intelligent, hewing closely enough to the original to satisfy the most conservative fan, often powerfully nostalgic shot for shot, yet giving itself room (at 118 minutes fully half an hour longer than the animation) to add a little more dialogue, extended chase scenes, new ingenuities and extra creatures.”

“Basically, this new Lion King sticks very closely to the original version, and in that sense it’s of course watchable and enjoyable. But I missed the simplicity and vividness of the original hand-drawn images. The circle of commercial life has given birth to this all-but-indistinguishable digiclone descendant.

“I don’t quite feel like bowing, but respect has to be paid to a handsomely made piece of entertainment.”


“Very few remakes, other than Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot reproduction of Psycho, have adhered as closely to their original versions as this one does. Everything here is so safe and tame and carefully calculated as to seem predigested. There’s nary a surprise in the whole two hours.”

“Yes, the visuals on display in Jon Favreau’s The Lion King are indeed impressive... However, like too many of these recent remakes of the Disney animated library, the emphasis is on ‘realism’ at the expense of entertainment value. At almost every turn, this redo undercuts its own melodrama by downplaying its own emotions. The key direction seems to be “like the 1994 version, but less.”

“As much as this new version can never hold a candle to its predecessor, there’s never a sense that it’s trying to. If anything, The Lion King uses nostalgia as a springboard for experimentation, finding new ways to tell old stories, while reminding us what makes those stories feel truly timeless in the first place.”


“It’s a non-stop visual feast. Every creature is so brilliantly rendered I’m still not convinced I wasn’t watch a troop of terrifically trained circus animals.

“It’s an uplifting hymn to natural wonder of our world with an emphasis on respecting our environment, and if David Attenborough made Disney films it would look and feel like this.”

“The original Lion King is so beloved by so many—the thinking must have been, Better not to mess with it too much. In that respect, this Lion King is a faithful remake, and in terms of its technology, it’s at times quite beautiful to behold. Giraffes run hither and thither on spotty, spindly legs; zebra herds dash by, a stripey blur. But there’s no sense of wonder in this new Lion King—its most visible attribute is ambition. It works hard for the money.”

“The songs don’t have the pop or the splendor. The terror and wonder of the intra-pride battles are muted. There is a lot of professionalism but not much heart. It may be that the realism of the animals makes it hard to connect with them as characters, undermining the inspired anthropomorphism that has been the most enduring source of Disney magic.”

The Lion King is released in UK cinemas on July 19.

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