Is Disney's technologically ambitious Lion King remake a triumphant roar or a case of Hakuna mataNAH?

Going off the first wave of international reviews the answer appears to lie somewhere in the middle.

Most critics have recognised the technical accomplishment of the movie's photo-realistic animation style, but are saying that the single minded dedication to making the animals look and behave as realistically as possible has robbed them of the character and joy inherent in 1994's 2D animated classic.

This is epitomised by the movie's middling scores on review aggregate sites. On Metacritic it's current aggregated review score is 57%. It fares slightly better on Rotten Tomatoes where it's currently sitting on 59%.

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If things don't pick up it will be the second high profile, remake blowout in a row for Disney. Last month's live action remake of Aladdin, which starred Will Smith as the Genie, earned similar review scores of 53% on Metacritic and 57% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But one area that has received near unanimous praise is the voice acting in the movie. The remake attracted high profile talent like Beyonce, Donald Glover, John Oliver and Seth Rogen and even saw James Earl Jones reprising his iconic role as Lion dad, Mufasa.

So what are the critics saying about The Lion King?

indieWire's senior movie reviewer David Ehrlich did not mince words, saying he 'truly hated this movie," in a tweet that linked to his review.


In a 2/4 review score the Associated Press' reviewer said, "The Lion King is missing something. A purpose, maybe, and a heart,".

Vulture's reviewer wrote, "It's a stirring reminder of what can be achieved with all the talent (and money) in the world, as well as a cautionary tale of what can happen when there's no vision to bind it all together.

The Hollywood Reporter was there for a good time, not a long time saying, "the original animated Lion King ran 88 minutes, while this one lasts two hours. You can feel the difference,".

The Wrap wrapped it up by saying, "Sometimes it's fascinating, frequently it's ludicrous, and sometimes - like when an incredibly realistic animal dies on-screen in front of you while its only child mourns him - it's borderline grotesque."

And Vanity Fair's reviewer was melancholic about what might have been, writing, "The Lion King, ultimately, is simply a copy—not a true remake. It's exactly the movie Disney wanted to make, which is good news for them—but a shame for us."

In a one star review Slant described it as a "tiresome retread".

But it wasn't all bad news for Simba and the gang.

CNN called it a "polished and satisfying film," Uproxx gushed that it's "a monumental achievement of technological advancement, I've never seen anything quite like it," and the Chicago Sun-Times decided that "on balance it's a solid and at times stunningly beautiful film".

But the last word in this review wrap goes to documentary filmmaker David Farrier who tweeted, "GODDAMNIT the lion king in imax was fun,".

The Lion King roars into cinemas this Wednesday.