The new version of "The Lion King" has realistic creatures...

The new version of "The Lion King" has realistic creatures and features the voices of actors JD McCrary as Young Simba, and James Earl Jones as Mufasa. Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

We were honored to be invited to the screening of a remake of the movie, “The Lion King,” before its official debut on July 19. The new film follows the storyline of the original “Lion King” movie from 1994 which we all watched before seeing this version. But this version is better, primarily because it is more realistic, more interesting, more intense and more emotional. It also had moments when it was funny, which was a nice touch.

The movie’s graphics were breathtaking. The way the filmmakers used graphics and live-action animation to show the characters and scenery made you feel you watching the animals in the African wild.

Among our favorite characters was Simba (voiced by JD McCrary), because he was brave and fought for his kingdom. Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph) was also terrific because she had “sass” and was not afraid of the boys. She was brave.

Of course, the music of “The Lion King” has become very popular over the past 25 years. The music in this new version included the same familiar songs, but recast in a better way. Sung by Beyoncé and Donald Glover, the music is more dramatic. Combined with the amazing, lifelike characters, the music felt more real and seemed to have a bigger impact on the audience. We were singing and dancing in our seats.

There are some very important messages in this movie: Do not be afraid of anything; never give up; stand up for what you believe in; family comes first; and, if you stick together, you can accomplish anything. Those lessons are at the heart of the story and are a big reason why so many people can identify with the story.

We would definitely recommend “The Lion King” for almost all ages. Kids younger than 5 might be slightly afraid of some of the scenes, including when the animals fight and confront fire. But we have no doubt they will see it soon because like the original, this movie is sure to be around for a long time.

To us there is no debate: This is a must-see film. We score it a 5-smile film. Perfect.