The highest selling home video of all-time (and I still have a copy of that video somewhere), The Lion King is a 1994 film made by Disney and is in my opinion the last great hand drawn animated film Disney ever produced, even if the storyline is largely lifted from a 1960s Japanese cartoon called Kimba the Lion. The Lion King featured voice acting from Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Mr. Bean, Moira Kelly, Robert Guillamane, Nathan Lane, one half of Cheech and Chong, and the naked guy on the subway from Seinfeld. Also, it featured a soundtrack written by Elton John and Tim Rice, and a talking warthog. In The Lion King, Simba (Broderick) watches his father and king of Pride Rock Mufasa (Jones) die thanks to an evil plot conceived by his uncle Scar (Irons). Convinced he is to blame, Simba leaves for a long exile, but eventually he must come back to face his past and regain his throne. Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but that's basically the jist of the movie. A few notes about this film, and there are SPOILERS, so read carefully.
- For a kid's movie, this is some heavy stuff. Not only is there the on-screen death of a major character in Mufasa, there's numerous attempts on Simba's life when he's a mere cub, male on female violence, themes of imprisonment and starvation and even flatulence, although that last one is more humorous than anything. Sure, it is more tame than most other movies, but there are some mature themes in this film that may have some effect on younger viewers.
- Scar is an interesting villian in this film. For one, he's a cold and evil lion, willing to kill his own family to get his way, but at the same time he's not willing to get his hands dirty. Instead of, say, killing Simba himself, Scar tries to set Simba up for the hyenas to kill instead. Also, Scar comes up with a convoluted plan to kill Mufasa and really only does that by letting gravity take its course, then pins it on Simba before getting the hyenas to try and kill him again. One might say that Scar is a coward that only picks on those weaker than him and backs down from confrontation when faced with an equal challenger. To his credit, Scar is charismatic in his own way, as he is able to spin enough lies to get the hyenas on his side to carry out his evil plan.
- Speaking of the hyenas, I kind of feel for them. I mean, think about it. The hyenas are banished by Mufasa or whoever was before him to live in an elephant graveyard where all they get to eat is scraps and whatever poor soul happens to come across their path. Then Scar comes around and promises food and equality for all the hyenas, so they do what they must in order to secure more food and a better future for their kind. Then the guy they've pinned all their hopes on, Scar, isn't so good as a king, and all the food eventually disappears (perhaps due to the ecosystem not being able to handle the infusion of all the hyenas, although the movie seems to just put all the blame on Scar because he sucks or something), so eventually the hyenas are just left with the same situation as before, with little food and little hope, plus they're being scapegoated for all the problems of Pride Rock. It's not east being a hyena in this tale, that's for sure.
- After Simba leaves his home, he meets up with a pair of aimless drifters named Timon (Lane) and Poomba (Ernie Sabella/naked guy from Seinfeld), a meerkat and warthog respectively. The duo ends up carrying the bulk of the humor in the film, and despite being a little over the top, they aren't too annoying at all. I don't know how a meerkat and warthog get along so well, but by golly they do here. Timon and Poomba are portrayed as aimless drifters who live off the earth and have a motto of no worries. So I guess that makes them hippies? I wonder if Timon and Poomba ever did some wacky tobaccy? Or maybe I'm just overthinking things again.
- My least favorite character in this story is Mufasa's assistant, a bird named Zazu (Rowan Atkinson). He's either an overbearing twit (as in the scene where he confronts Scar about missing Simba's introduction ceremony) or a bossy know it all. Let's just say I wasn't too upset that he ended up in a prison during Scar's regime. Apparently, I'm not the only person that feels this way, as this video below will attest:
- The animation of this movie is incredible, particularly the opening montage and the stampede scene. It was so well-drawn that there were times where it looked as if it was done by computer instead of by hand. Also, the soundtrack had a few memorable songs, including The Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight? My favorite was Be Prepared, in spite of its general message of genocide and murdering of family members via stampede.
Well, it's late, so I'm going to wrap it up here. I watched The Lion King in theaters when it was first released as a young lad, and came out really liking the film. After watching it again, I must say that I feel the same way that I did some 16-17 years ago. Yes, The Lion King may be a little above the heads of some younger viewers, but it is also a film that features great animation, an interesting (if simple) plot, and some memorable songs. Overall, I'd give The Lion King an 8 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you any ideas for future posts, or thoughts about this post, than either leave a comment on the blog or send them to me at e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.