The Lion King Review
Disney's 32nd animated feature heralded something of a high for the studio. Striking a chord with audiences worldwide, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a feisty young lion cub, who “just can't wait to be king”. His father - the wise Mufasa (voiced by none other than James Earl Jones) - is at odds with his brother (Jeremy Irons) who hates the idea that he will never see the throne of Pride Rock. Uncle Scar's devious mind inevitable turns to the innocent Simba, who through various events suddenly finds himself outcast from the Pride Lands, and alone in the wilderness after being chased by a pack of hyenas...
Enter the comedy double act Timon and Pumbaa as companions for the little lost lion, and for a while life seems to be on the up. Of course, as Simba gradually grows into the full-maned lion that he's destined to become, he discovers that all is not well at Pride Rock, with Uncle Scar claiming the throne and allowing the hyenas to take over. Against all his instincts, with the past haunting him, Simba stands up to be counted, and returns to the Pride Lands to take his rightful place...
The Lion King is one of Disney's more mature works, and much of the subject matter is darker than usual. That's not to say that it isn't funny, but it does cover subjects of murder, betrayal and pride amongst other things. It's partly this that gives the movie such a universal appeal, for though this is primarily aimed at children there are things here to interest the adult viewer. The characters are excellent - particular Timon and Pumbaa who are hilarious and make the movie - and the voice casting is superb, with talent such as James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, Rowan Atkinson and Whoopi Goldberg adding weight to proceedings.
Animation is up to Disney's typically high standards and in the familiar mould; and in short everything exudes a sense of quality, including the musical score which is one of Disney's best, and no doubt contributed to the commercial success of the film.
It's worth noting that Disney have included 2 “cuts” of the movie, with the more recent one including a new song. Featured near the beginning of the film where Mufasa teaches Simba to pounce, it's worth noting that the song is nowhere near the standard of the original tunes, and I found it rather distracting to a scene which I previously enjoyed.
This critisism aside, The Lion King remains an excellent piece of entertainment for the whole family. The King - as one kung fu monkey would say - has returned...