Lion King – New Live Action Benchmark

Lion King (2019)

Reviewer: Autar Kaw

Grade: B

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Musical

Rating: PG

Running Time: 118 minutes

I had high hopes for Lion King as I watched the animation version 25 years ago with my kids who were still in single digits in age, and when Britton 8 used to be a cinema theater on Dale Mabry.

The CGI is out of this world and Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones, Seth Rogan earn their paycheck and more. The movie is surely a technical marvel, and numerical methods abound in its making.

I am assuming that the future is not too far when if an actor throws a tantrum or does not show up for a shoot, they can just replace him with CGI. I hate those over-the-shoulder shots because they cannot get two actors together on the same day. The chemistry is surely missing in such scenes.

What was not that good was the lack of expression on the faces of the lions. I heard the director wanted to depict true expressions of lions, but real lions do not sing and talk either. Maybe they do.

All the songs except “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” sounded like karaoke and they did not have that oomph which Carmen Twille, Elton John and Jeremy Iron put in the songs of the original movie.  Also, my favorite character Rafiki’s role was truncated, if not chopped. He did not say – “It’sh time” and he did not slap Simba on the head and say, “It’s in the pasht”.

It is still worth it, if you have not seen the animation version on the big screen, and if you believe in pure nostalgia of a 25-year revival.

Published by

Autar Kaw

Autar Kaw ( is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He has been at USF since 1987, the same year in which he received his Ph. D. in Engineering Mechanics from Clemson University. He is a recipient of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award. With major funding from NSF, he is the principal and managing contributor in developing the multiple award-winning online open courseware for an undergraduate course in Numerical Methods. The OpenCourseWare ( annually receives 1,000,000+ page views, 1,000,000+ views of the YouTube audiovisual lectures, and 150,000+ page views at the NumericalMethodsGuy blog. His current research interests include engineering education research methods, adaptive learning, open courseware, massive open online courses, flipped classrooms, and learning strategies. He has written four textbooks and 80 refereed technical papers, and his opinion editorials have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune.

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