89 Min | Animation – Adventure – Drama | October 1994
IMDB Rating: 8.5
Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
The Lion King Review: Of all the animation classics from the Walt Disney Company, there is perhaps none that is more celebrated than “The Lion King.” Its acclaim is understandable, this is quite simply a glorious work of art. “The Lion King” gets off to a fantastic start. The film’s opening number, “The Circle of Life,” is outstanding. The song lasts for about four minutes, but from the first sound, the audience is floored. Not even National Geographic can capture something this beautiful and dramatic. Not only is this easily the greatest moment in film animation, this is one of the greatest sequences in film history. The story that follows is not as majestic, but the film has to tell a story. Actually, the rest of the film holds up quite well. The story takes place in Africa, where the lions rule.
When viewing the film, it is obvious that “The Lion King” is quite different from its predecessors (and successors). This is an epic story that contains more dramatic power than all the other Disney films combined. While there are definitely some light-hearted moments, there is no denying the dark drama that takes up the bulk of the story. While it could be argued that Disney is the champion of family entertainment, this film is not for the very young. Some of the sequences are very dark and violent, many bordering on frightening, even for the older crowd. Disney’s animated features are known for their gorgeous artwork. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “The Lion King.” Every single frame is jaw-dropping. The colors are rich, and the drawings are sharp and beautiful.
“The Lion King” is not flawless, but on first viewing, they aren’t noticeable, and it is likely that the young won’t ever notice them. “Beauty and the Beast” was the first animated film to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture (it lost to “The Silence of the Lambs”), and is thus far the only animated film to receive such an honor. That being the case, it’s hard to understand why “The Lion King” was not given the same distinction. The two films are more or less equal in quality, and the nominees for the honor that year were not strong.