I wasn't a huge fan of the film the first time around (it still has problems), but the animation is drop-dead gorgeous. It looks staggeringly crisp on the big screen, where it really should be seen.
The story is a mix classic plot elements (most of it comes from Hamlet and Richard III), in which young lion cub Simba (voice of Thomas) is groomed to succeed his heroic father (Jones) as the king of the beasts. But his sinister, murderous uncle Scar (Irons) twists events, sending Simba into exile, where he's befriended by a meerkat and a warthog (Lane and Sabella). All grown up (now voiced by Broderick), he's finally urged to return home and rescue the kingdom from Scar and a bunch of lowlife hyenas (led by Goldberg, Marin and Cummings). Oh, and he falls in love with his childhood buddy Nala (Kelly). Can you feel the love tonight?
This is indeed a timeless classic, full of excitement, humour, witty asides and memorable characters. Yet there is a strangely awkward relationship between the exceptionally inventive animation and the compelling, involving story. The problem is that the animals are just far too humanised, transposing Western values and society onto the African animal kingdom while pretending to respect nature. It's oddly hypocritical, and makes the entire film seem slightly off-kilter.
That said, it's still splendidly entertaining from start to finish, especially in Imax and/or 3D, which will make you never want to watch it on video again. While not as edgy and lively as Aladdin, nor as romantic as Beauty and the Beast, this is Disney animation at the peak of its powers. Basically, it's worth seeing again on the big screen any time you get the chance.
> See also Disney's photorealistic animated remake: THE LION KING (2019)
dir Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff |
scr Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, Linda Woolverton, Jorgen Klubien
with Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rowan Atkinson, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Robert Guillaume, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings, Moira Kelly
release US 24.Jun.94, UK 7.Oct.94
Imax UK 20.Dec.02, US 25.Dec.02
3D UK 16.Sep.11, US 7.Oct.11
94/US Disney 1h34
Hakuna matata. Timon and Pumbaa teach Simba their worry-free philosophy
Zrobinson, net: "I love this movie. I never get tired of watching it over. I've been viewing it ever since the age of three (now 12) and plan on continuing watching. I find that as each year passes, I notice something different about the movie, I sort of see it in a different light, and look upon it with more mature eyes. I start to see things that I never noticed when I had first laid eyes on The Lion King." (22.Jun.03)
Caroline, Brotton: "To me the greatest Disney film EVER! I've loved it since i first saw it & know the film & songs off by heart. I have it on video & DVD. The songs capture the essence & atmosphere of Africa & 'The Circle of Life' is one of my faves, both the film & Elton John's piece." (7.Jun.04)