1. Donald Glover. And the rest of the amazing cast (…but mostly Donald Glover)
If you know me at all, you’re probably already aware that Donald Glover is my favorite famous human and I will always support anything he’s in because he creates magical works of art and the sound of his voice melts my heart. That aside, the entire cast of this movie is unbelievable. The chemistry between the actors really brings these already familiar characters to life and cement their places in our hearts all over again. Billy Eicher and Seth Rogen are hilarious as Timon and Pumbaa, as are Keegan-Michael Key and Eric Andre as Hyeenas. Even Zazu, a stiff fuddy duddy in the original 1994 film has new life with John Oliver‘s interpretation. Young Simba and Nala (JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph) sing like angels and are too cute for words. Florence Kasumba is a force as Shenzi and Chiwetel Ejiofor brings an intensity to Scar that gave me actual goosebumps. And Beyonce is… well, she’s Beyonce. But more on that later.
We know the story. There’s no twists, no wild surprises, nothing to “ruin” your childhood. This film captures all the purity of The Lion King we already know and love, with just enough subtle additions to update the humor and keep us engaged. Every moment feels new and revitalized without taking away any of what we loved from the original.
3. Beyoncé sings
I probably don’t need to say anything more about the icon who got a standing ovation at The Lion King world premiere before she even took the stage, but I will. I hope this doesn’t send the bey-hive after me but I admittedly had my doubts when I heard she’d been cast in the role of Nala. (Remember Epic? If so, you probably had your doubts too). But it was well worth the risk to have the queen of fierce herself grace this soundtrack with all of her Beyonce glory. No matter how much I wish it were me singing a duet with Donald Glover instead, there is no denying that their rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is pure magic and a gift to us all. Also gifted to us by the great Beyonce is the new addition “Spirit,” an emotional power ballad that will give you chills. The soundtrack is available now, but I recommend not listening until you’ve seen the movie. I chose to wait and I’m glad I did because it made the musical moments of the film feel that much more impactful.
4. Stunning Animation
The visuals in the movie are absolutely breathtaking. Several times I forgot that I was watching an animated film. I’m super excited to go see The Lion King in IMAX and fully immerse myself in all of its beauty.
5. Black Excellence
The Lion King has a wonderfully diverse cast but let’s not pretend that it doesn’t mean the world to the African American fans to have such an iconic Disney film dripping in incredible black leads. It’s not something we get to see often enough in mainstream media so I am celebrating and reveling in every moment.
Catch me in the theaters watching The Lion King over and over again; in theaters July 19th!