The Lion King First Reactions: Timon and Pumbaa Steal the Show in Disney's Best Live-Action Remake Yet

Critics on social media say the film is remarkably faithful to the original, with mind-blowing visuals and some incredible voice performances.

by | July 10, 2019 | Comments

Disney is all in with the live-action reimagining of their animated classics. Never mind that the last two have had Rotten Tomatometer scores; these things keep making hundreds of millions of dollars. The latest is The Lion King, and it’s one of the most anticipated movies and most pre-sold releases of the year. Fortunately for the fans, critics are mostly positive on this one so far. The effects and voice performances are all stunning, according to reactions out of this week’s premiere, and while it’s not a necessary redo, it’s definitely worth seeing.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Lion King on social media:

Is this one of the good live-action Disney remakes?

Whatever your feelings on Disney remakes, this one will blow you away.
Jenna Busch, Legion of Leia

It’s easily the best of Disney’s remakes.
Laura Prudom, IGN Movies

Loved loved loved The Lion King.
Drew Taylor, Moviefone

Better than I thought it’d be!
Ben Pearson, Slashfilm

But is it necessary?

It’s a good Disney remake, but was it necessary? Maybe not, but it’s enjoyable.
– Peter Sciretta, Slashfilm

Did we need a live-action version of The Lion King? Maybe not… but this version is beautifully crafted by Jon Favreau…gives me all the feels on being back on Pride Rock.
– Kit Bowen, We Live Entertainment

While it’s a story you know, it’s soooooo well done.
– Steve Weintraub, Collider

The Lion King will be a touching introduction to a timeless story for a new generation, but I’d never rewatch it over the original.
– Laura Prudom, IGN Movies

Walt Disney Studios

So we’ll like it if we like the original?

Really, if you’re hoping this will be a near-exact adaptation of the animated movie with some absolutely jaw-dropping visual effects, you’ll get what you’re looking for.
Terri Schwartz, IGN Movies

The Lion King is a wonderful adaptation of an iconic classic. It has a few small changes which enhance what was already great and everything else is right on point.
Germain Lussier, io9

The Lion King does a really excellent job of honoring the original movie but also adds touches for this modern version. Those touches are a lot of fun and totally welcome.
Brandon Davis,

I still really miss the exaggerated emotions of the characters from the original, but you get occasional flashes in this.
Ben Pearson, Slashfilm

The Lion King is exactly as advertised: a beat-for-beat remake of the original… it’s more nostalgic rehash than fresh reimagining.
Angie Han, Mashable

Nostalgia hits HARD with The Lion King. It’s wonderful to see the story again on the big screen presented in a different way. The cast is amazing and to hear James Earl Jones as Mufasa again put a huge smile on my face. Oh yea, that stampede scene still gets me.
Wendy Lee Szany, Schmoes Know

The Lion King has always been my favorite Disney animated movie and this new rendition is a beautiful reminder why. Happy to welcome back familiar chills, emotions and tears.
Perri Nemiroff, Collider

How is Beyoncé?

Beyoncé is good in The Lion King — really good! Nala’s role is indeed bigger, and Bey suits it perfectly. There’s a moment when she tells Simba he’s ‘disappointed’ her, and reader, the way Bey bit the ’t’ in that word chilled me and thrilled me.
– Adam B. Vary, BuzzFeed News

Beyoncé is a spirited Nala.
Angie Han, Mashable

Beyoncé and Donald Glover are fine if underused.
Terri Schwartz, IGN Movies

Walt Disney Studios
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

How about the comic relief?

Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa stole the show and made me laugh so hard I almost cried.
Shannon McGrew, Nightmarish Conjurings

Timon and Pumbaa steal the show.
Chris E. Hayner, Hollywood Reporter

Timon and Pumbaa are everything.
Perri Nemiroff, Collider

The vocal performances are largely good enough to make up for the rest [of the criticisms]. Eichner and Rogen steal the movie.
Ben Pearson, Slashfilm

John Oliver is an ideal Zazu.
Angie Han, Mashable

Are there any other standouts?

Chiwetel Ejiofor is brilliant as Scar!
Brandon Davis,

If you thought [Florence] Kasumba stole that scene in Civil War, just wait. In a movie full of great performances, she was the stand out.
Daniel Radford, Screen Junkies

Young Simba JD McCrary stole the goddamn show. He’s so charming and brings great energy to, again, the cutest goddamn baby Simba you can hope for.
Terri Schwartz, IGN Movies

Walt Disney Studios
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

How are the visual effects?

It’s the most beautiful effects movie I’ve seen. Like next level, the game has changed kind of thing.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

The Lion King is a landmark *visual* experience. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I think it’s going to change how we look at movies forever.
– Adam B. Vary, BuzzFeed News

The attention to detail by Jon Favreau and the VFX team on The Lion King is just incredible. Beyond incredible. It looks so real so often.
– Brandon Davis,

Visually, it’s stunning – an unparalleled technical achievement that’s like watching a nature documentary.
– Laura Prudom, Nerdist

It’s a visual masterpiece that will leave you smiling and crying the whole time.
– Beatrice Verhoeven, The Wrap

A breathtaking visual cinematic achievement. I can’t believe this is a CG animated movie.
– Peter Sciretta, Slashfilm

My fear was realistic animals wouldn’t have the charisma of the cartoon, but they’re very good.
– Chris E. Hayner, Hollywood Reporter

The Lion King does illustrate the limitations of projecting human emotions onto photorealistic animals that can’t convey human expression.
– Alisha Grauso, Film School Rejects

The CG can be slightly distracting at times but the emotion quickly covers that.
– Germain Lussier, io9

How is the soundtrack?

The Lion King might be the first animated movie to win the same Oscar twice.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN Movies

The Lion King’s story and music are great because they’re the same, and the few minor updates are all smart and well-placed. And unlike Beauty and the Beast, they cast people who can sing without auto tune.
Laura Prudom, Nerdist

For the first time in maybe my entire life as the movie started I got really emotional. Just hearing the music wrecked me.
Steve Weintraub, Collider

Some of the song/choreo arrangements don’t work as well as the original but still a really fun flick.
Chris E. Hayner, Hollywood Reporter

Walt Disney Studios
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Are there any problems?

As an *emotional* experience…I’ll put it this way: It turns out lions can’t really emote.
Adam B. Vary, BuzzFeed News

The hyper realism wasn’t a problem for me at all, the characters were still expressive, but your mileage may vary.
Danielle Radford, Screen Junkies

Are audiences going to respond to this?

Families are gonna love it.
Peter Sciretta, Slashfilm

Not sure I’ve ever heard as much clapping during a movie as I did tonight at The Lion King. Was like being at a rock concert. Movie is going to make so much money.
Steve Weintraub, Collider

The Lion King opens everywhere on July 19.


The Lion King (2019)

Adjusted Score: 71.716%
Critics Consensus: While it can take pride in its visual achievements,The Lion King is a by-the-numbers retelling that lacks the energy and heart that made the original so beloved--though for some fans that may just be enough.
Synopsis: From Disney Live Action, director Jon Favreau's all-new "The Lion King" journeys to the African savanna where a future king... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Mudbound independent Best and Worst south america Quiz Epix Summer award winner Set visit screenings Britbox richard e. Grant Schedule Shondaland Sneak Peek Food Network ABC biography serial killer Awards Tour Lifetime Christmas movies Infographic Mary Tyler Moore book social media harry potter Endgame cars The CW Trophy Talk TV renewals DirecTV free movies X-Men History Year in Review travel Binge Guide singing competition Spectrum Originals Amazon Prime Winter TV Ovation revenge Chernobyl FXX Superheroes comics Pirates YouTube Premium Fox News series sequel video CNN RT History Tubi El Rey doctor who Emmys Turner Netflix golden globes politics crime drama vampires GIFs Stephen King 71st Emmy Awards Tomatazos Martial Arts latino WarnerMedia FX Ghostbusters casting Nickelodeon Trivia cats TBS Sci-Fi Marvel Television Logo Rom-Com Masterpiece comiccon Family GoT E3 NBC DC streaming service Musical dramedy CBS All Access Women's History Month Black Mirror PaleyFest theme song Hallmark Christmas movies romance boxoffice Creative Arts Emmys crime diversity IFC Films psycho USA Academy Awards Music transformers Action Character Guide OWN zombies American Society of Cinematographers Western DC Universe crossover Paramount Network Disney BBC Crunchyroll nature SundanceTV Comedy Central 2018 See It Skip It IFC Brie Larson reboot miniseries YouTube Red true crime Rocky Interview The Walking Dead spain Mystery The Purge breaking bad Photos Video Games Peacock Acorn TV Lifetime Grammys Film DC Comics Fantasy Christmas Star Wars First Reviews Comedy robots TCM HBO APB indie Arrowverse psychological thriller PBS Pet Sematary TCA Winter 2020 Teen Valentine's Day crime thriller technology Reality President Paramount Captain marvel Columbia Pictures The Witch Disney+ Disney Plus versus Watching Series Television Academy Adult Swim Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Holidays justice league Red Carpet Starz dragons LGBT Esquire quibi name the review facebook ITV cooking cinemax Star Trek Disney Channel Baby Yoda NYCC Shudder Pride Month Awards Warner Bros. kids LGBTQ disaster witnail MCU adaptation werewolf New York Comic Con comic Ellie Kemper 007 Showtime screen actors guild zombie Drama VH1 tv talk TNT dceu movies Fall TV E! historical drama Musicals aliens HBO Max CBS children's TV Biopics space sitcom Tarantino Vudu hispanic Mindy Kaling Comics on TV renewed TV shows TruTV stand-up comedy Horror CW Seed Writers Guild of America cancelled TV series Pixar Lucasfilm composers Comic Book A&E Rocketman cancelled TV shows elevated horror spy thriller Country Elton John cults Dark Horse Comics canceled TV shows political drama cops TV 2019 Cosplay natural history dc Polls and Games SXSW sports Mary poppins Cartoon Network San Diego Comic-Con Universal Anna Paquin Oscars spanish language The Arrangement Tumblr Nat Geo directors 45 discovery Election Reality Competition Crackle anthology National Geographic what to watch science fiction Song of Ice and Fire period drama VICE Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sundance Countdown FOX anime spider-man 2016 20th Century Fox TLC Freeform 21st Century Fox Toys Opinion cartoon Hallmark Marathons DGA Disney Plus 2020 Disney streaming service Avengers Thanksgiving A24 cancelled Super Bowl Nominations TCA Pop finale Sundance TV based on movie 2015 Heroines cancelled television RT21 Syfy TCA 2017 teaser television Premiere Dates ABC Family AMC ghosts Amazon Mary Poppins Returns Kids & Family strong female leads thriller zero dark thirty sag awards christmas movies MTV blaxploitation Amazon Studios MSNBC war Trailer Walt Disney Pictures YA OneApp Discovery Channel Sundance Now Marvel Studios TIFF 2017 docudrama Box Office mockumentary animated Marvel BET Cannes 24 frames Apple TV+ Turner Classic Movies talk show Apple TV Plus Spring TV green book foreign documentary toy story Lionsgate First Look medical drama Bravo batman Apple canceled supernatural GLAAD BBC America Calendar game of thrones Amazon Prime Video movie police drama streaming rotten movies we love hist spinoff Film Festival blockbuster joker game show Spike Superheroe TV Land romantic comedy ESPN binge Classic Film SDCC Hulu Holiday Certified Fresh jamie lee curtis Podcast Sony Pictures unscripted mutant adventure ratings slashers Winners festivals Animation Emmy Nominations WGN YouTube USA Network Extras Rock Netflix Christmas movies CMT halloween