The Lion King
What She said:
I cannot watch the beginning of this movie without crying.
There, I’ve admitted it. Same with the musical. I’ve
seen it twice and both times I get choked up at the triumphant
opening. Maybe it’s the absolute splendor of it all. Or
perhaps it’s just the simple fact that the movie takes me back to a
simpler time, my childhood. I know part of it is the nostalgia
of what the film symbolizes, the height of Disney hand-drawn
animation. Remember how excited we all got over The Little
Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion
King? Even our parents couldn’t contain their
That’s because films like The Lion King are visually
spectacular, musically invigorating, and the storylines are solid
from beginning to end, infused with moral takeaways that are
uplifting. The Lion King has never disappointed
me. It is more beautiful than ever in its recent Blu-ray
re-release. The music echoes, both the sung pieces and the
film score. And here’s a story that everyone can take
something away from.
You are probably aware of the storyline, so I’ll sum it up very
quickly. Young Simba is naïve and a bit too preoccupied with
becoming king of the Pride Lands. He neglects to realize that
his Uncle Scar is out to kill him and his father in effort to steal
the throne. Scar’s plan sort of half works and Simba flees
the kingdom for many years. Meanwhile, his uncle takes over
and let’s hyenas come in and ruin things. It’s up to Simba to
regain the confidence he needs to confront his Uncle and take back
his rightful place as king.
There are lots of messages here. The cast of characters is
overrun by animals, which is great for children, but it tells a
human story with human values. We learn important
lessons about responsibility, loss, and family. There’s that
whole somewhat cheesy “circle of life” stuff that resonates well
with the younger crowd. The film will visually suck you in,
but is certain to entertain with charm and humor as well.
What He said:
It’s the cirrrcllle of liiiiiifffe. It’s more than just a lyric
from the song; it’s the movie’s entire philosophy. The core message
of the movie is a very simple, but one that seems to ring true
nonetheless. That’s what is so great about the Disney
classics. They tell us things we already know, but sometimes need to
hear again from time to time.
The Lion King is about life (and death too). It’s about
the triumphs and struggles and everything else in between. It may
end on a happy note, but sometimes there is a lot of sadness
on the way to it. And boy is there some genuinely sad stuff in this
movie. You really do feel for little Simba (voiced by Jonathan
Taylor Thomas) when his Uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) betrays his
father Mufasa (James Earl Jones). That part of the movie is
actually a little tough to watch – and I imagine it could even be
traumatic for kids – but the movie touches on some very real
issues. There is some really good, life-lesson type of stuff
going on here.
The story is really strengthened by some top-notch voice acting.
Every actor really seemed to fit the role they were playing.
James Earl Jones is known for his voice and was born to play
this role. Mufasa looks, acts, and thanks to Jones, sounds like a
king too. His commanding voice brings legitimacy to this animated
role. Just as the same with Darth Vader, I cannot imagine
anyone else voicing this role.
And what would Mufasa be without his nemesis Scar? Every hero
needs a villain and boy does Jeremy Irons deliver. He has that
sneaky, slithery, evil voice that this type of villain called for.
Scar is the first to admit he poses no physical threat to Mufas,
but will not hesitate to stab him in the back when he isn’t
looking. You can actually hear elements of that type of
personality in Irons’ voice.
Even his cronies are cast perfectly. The hyenas aren’t major
characters, but Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin are just what the
doctor ordered. It’s easy to overlook these performances, because if
they picked people who didn’t stand out, you probably wouldn’t
care. But to have supporting roles be so well-cast is a bonus and
one that really pays off.
Then there’s Simba, who’s voiced by two separate people. JTT –
as he was known in his heyday – was excellent at portraying Simba,
particularly during his vulnerable moments. He was a teenager at
the time, but luckily for the audience he still gave off a
very youthful impression. Matthew
Broderick was also very good. He has this kind of voice that
portrays sense vulnerability, but can sound like a leader when he
The movie also looks fantastic,
especially on Blu-ray.
Diagnosis: Thumbs up.
This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of
approval on November 9, 2011.