Monday, May 14, 2012

870. The Lion King (1994)

Running Time: 89 minutes
Directed By: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Written By: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, Linda Woolverton
Main Cast: (voices): James Earl Jones, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane
Click here to view the trailer


As I pass over the threshold of the halfway mark of this 100 films, I take a respite from my heavy watching of movies from the 40s and 2000s and take a look at a pair from the 90s, "The Lion King" being the second in that pair, after "Se7en".

Our animated tale is set in Africa, where Mufasa (Jones) reigns supreme over Pride Rock, the king of the jungle. When the film begins, Mufasa and his mate Sarabi are welcoming their new cub, Simba (Thomas), into the world, a world that he will one day reign over as heir to the throne. As Simba grows up, he becomes a curious lion cub, asking many questions and wanting a life filled with adventure. In "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", Simba makes it clear that....well, he can't wait to be king, yearning for a life where no one will tell him what to do. Meanwhile, Scar (Irons), Mufasa's brother, isn't pleased that the king now has an heir, as he was ready to be passed the torch and the keys to the kingdom. With Simba in the picture, Scar will never wield any power and because of that, Scar plans to kill Mufasa and Simba so that he can rule Pride Rock. With the help of a band of hyenas, Scar succeeds in killing Mufasa, but Simba runs away from the scene before he can be done away with. Away from Pride Rock, Simba meets up with Timon, a meerkat and Pumba, a warthog and the trio become inseparable right into Simba's adulthood. Now, all grown up, Simba must face the past and come to terms with the death of his father, which he always blamed himself for. When his childhood friend Nala comes calling, she informs Simba that Pride Rock is in dire straits with Scar as ruler. Will Simba return to Pride Rock to face the past and take back the kingdom that is rightfully his?

In 1989, Disney studious started a resurrection of their films division, with the release of "The Little Mermaid". The 1989 film was a huge hit with audiences and got kids wanting to go see Disney movies again. Over the course of the next several years, Disney would continue to top themselves with each outing, releasing some of the most popular Disney movies in ages, movies that could hold their ground with classics like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Bambi" and "Fantasia". Perhaps the biggest hit of them all was "The Lion King", the story set in Africa that mixed elements of Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet with some biblical type stories and used lions as the main characters. The animation is superb and in the days when Dreamworks and Pixar didn't exist, this was as the apex for animation. I can still remember renting this movie when it was released on video (we didn't get to the theater that much when I was a kid) and being in awe of certain scenes and how amazing they looked, most notably the wildebeest stampede and the Mufasa death scene. Speaking of the Mufasa death scene, it's perhaps the saddest scene in all of Disney pictures, one that even rivals the death of Bambi's mother.In fact, that scene is so well done, I'd put it up against classic scenes from the most timeless of movies. It has adventure, suspense and heartbreak and it all looks breath taking.

On the other hand, it's still a film aimed towards children and thus, I wasn't as captivated by it as I was when I was ten years old. I can admit that the animation is top notch and as far as Disney stories go, this one is, perhaps, the best of them all. However, I've grown up and thus, films like this just don't do it for me anymore. Children's songs and funny, cute, little characters don't make me laugh anymore. You could argue that I've lost my child's sense of wonderment and amazement and something that appealed to me as a kid should only serve to remind me of my childhood and should still appeal to me as an adult, but it simply doesn't anymore. It's a fine film, don't get me wrong, I'm just saying that as an adult, the flaws are easier to spot.

RATING: 7/10  Plus, for some reason, I'm more of a Pixar man, when it comes to animation. However, this is, hands down, the best Disney film in THE BOOK and I should know, because I think I've seen them all now.


May 14, 2012  6:12pm

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