Review: The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King
Directed by: Roger Alles and Rob Minkoff
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons and James Earl Jones
Genre: Animation
Released: October 7 1994
by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 87 minutes (1 hour, 27 minutes)
Cert: U (BBFC) G (MPAA)

IMDb | View Trailer

A young lion prince is born in Africa, thus making his uncle Scar the second in line to the throne. Scar plots with the hyenas to kill King Mufasa and Prince Simba, thus making himself King. The King is killed and Simba is led to believe by Scar that it was his fault, and so flees the kingdom in shame. After years of exile he is persuaded to return home to overthrow the usurper and claim the kingdom as his own, thus completing the “Circle of Life”.

Shocking, isn’t it? I haven’t seen The Lion King until now! This is definitely one of those movies where everyone fawns over it in euphoric nostalgia and claims it to be the “best movie of all time” and without even seeing it, I immediately think “it’s not that great”.

Now that I have watched this, I can give my view on it!

The plot is the main reason as to why I put off watching it. Why? It’s pretty much Hamlet acted out by anthropomorphic animals, set in Africa with a sub-plot. Obviously there are extra characters added for comic relief or romantic moments, but the basis of the plot is Hamlet. It’s pretty obvious; the king’s brother is jealous of his nephew and wants to be the king so he kills his brother, becomes the king and the nephew vows revenge. That aside, this is quite a unique plot for Disney since most Disney animated movies are adaptations of fairy tales or classic childrens’ stories. It was nice of them to put a spin on Shakespeare and add things to it.

The voice cast is so humongous that I’m unsure of where to start. Hmm… let’s start with the awesomeness that is James Earl Jones! The dude has an epic voice and he was cast perfectly as Mufasa. He sounds like the hero of the movie because his voice is so epic. Here is where I am going to get controversial; I think that Bambi’s mother’s death was a lot more heartbreaking than Mufasa’s. I really do. You want to know why? Animals kill each other out of jealousy every day. There isn’t a single human in this movie. Bambi’s mother was killed by a hunter that isn’t even seen.

Honestly, I wasn’t too pleased with Matthew Broderick playing Simba. Like most of the heroes in Disney’s movies during the Disney Renaissance, he sounds like a high school heartthrob. That’s not good for the hero. I couldn’t take him seriously when he was being threatening or angry because he didn’t have the right voice for it. I would’ve preferred Simba to sound like a man, rather than a boy.

The animation of this movie is beautiful, it really is stunning. I love the colours that have been used in the scenery and they really capture how beautiful the African continent really is, rather than it just being a dry and dreary landscape. Well, it is at some point but that’s to reflect how the kingdom has changed for the worst.

I have kind of mixed feelings on the music. I’m not a fan of Can You Feel the Love Tonight at all and the lady who sings it in the movie doesn’t have a very nice voice in my opinion. I prefer Elton John’s version which doesn’t appear in the movie but on the soundtrack. However, I love the African feel that the score has, even down to the Swahili backing vocals in some songs. It felt quite authentic.

Overall, this movie was really good, but it’s certainly not the greatest movie ever or even the greatest Disney movie ever. I kind of understand why everyone fawns over it, but, in my opinion, there are better Disney movies.

1 Comment

  1. 30/04/2013 / 2:25 PM

    love your reviews. never read hamlet though.

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