The Lion King
In June of 1994 Disney came out with another film that would fall under children's classics a few years later. It was the Lion King. A story that is very loosely based on the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare as well as the biblical stories of Joseph and Moses. This would be the height of the Disney Renaissance grossing more than twenty times its budget. This was also the first in a string of Disney films that released in the summer compared to the last few which were brought out for Thanksgiving.
The story is interesting, familiar yet different. Based on the revenge of a King from Hamlet and the exile stories from the Bible, Lion King is an interesting hodgepodge of story telling. Although I like the story, watching it this time around was very slow. It takes a long time for things to happen and it feels very hard to identify with as the problems are those of a king and his subjects. It is good, but I think it gets more credit than it deserves.
There are some good characters here, especially with Timon and Pumbaa. Scar is a good villain that explains his motives well, but also feels a bit more evil than real. The rest, outside of Simba, are pretty one dimensional. Zazu is a typical subordinate while Rafiki is a wild and crazy character, but pretty much ignored most of the film.
The animation can't get much better than this. Great work on making the animals move like animals. The backgrounds are magnificent and have a lot of moving parts to them, water and flowers and such. There may be a little CGI thrown in, but if so this is the first time they did it well enough to not detract from the story by sticking out so badly.
This is another movie where the music is very well done. The main songs were composed by Elton John who is a phenomenal musician. Disney may have gone too deep with the music this time though. Instead of a couple very strong songs there are two strong ones, one comedic one and then two or three weaker ones. My personal feeling on the music is that it was a bit weakened by the African theme. Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight somewhat blend together because of the strong drum rhythms which is a bit of a let down since they are both Elton John songs.
The other thing that becomes obvious when you look any of the Renaissance films is their ability to be merchandised. Lion King has calmed down a bit over the years, but toys, rides, shows, restaurants, hotel rooms... If you know Disney you know these movies because they use the IPs to their fullest extent.
In the end this is a very good movie with some emotional scenes. But as a piece of entertainment I feel it is slow and has quite a few weak spots. It definitely would be considered a good film and must watch for Disney fans, but not quite the ultimate Disney experience that it tends to get the reputation for.
Run Time – 88 Minutes
65th Academy Awards – 4 Nominations – 2 Wins
Best Original Score – Won
Best Original Song – “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” – Won
Best Original Song – “Circle of Life” – Nominated
Best Original Score - Won
Disney Animated Canon so far in order of Quality
1. Beauty and the Beast 9-29-1991
2. Lady and the Tramp 6-22-1955
3. Aladdin 11-25-1992
4. Peter Pan 2-5-1953
5. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 3-11-1977
6. One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1-25-1961
7. The Lion King 6-15-1994
8. Dumbo 10-23-1941
9. The Fox and the Hound 7-10-1981
10. Oliver and Company 11-18-1988
11. Cinderella 2-15-1950
12. The Little Mermaid 11-17-1989
13. Pinocchio 2-7-1940
14. Sleeping Beauty 1-29-1959
15. The Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad 10-5-1949
16. The Jungle Book 10-18-1967
17. The Great Mouse Detective 7-2-1986
18. Robin Hood 11-8-1973
19. The Rescuers Down Under 11-16-1990
20. Make Mine Music 4-20-1946
21. Fun and Fancy Free 9-27-1947
22. The Aristocats 12-11-1970
23. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 12-21-1937
24. Saludos Amigos 8-24-1942
25. The Sword in the Stone 12-25-1963
26. The Rescuers 6-22-1977
27. Alice in Wonderland 7-26-1951
28. The Black Cauldron 7-24-1985
29. Melody Time 5-27-1948
30. Bambi 8-13-1942
31. Fantasia 11-13-1940
32. The Three Caballeros 12-21-1944