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Movie Review | The Lion King


Simba (Matthew Broderick as adult Simba), Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) and Timon (Nathan Lane) sing "Hakuna Matata" in The Lion King
 

Movie Summary: A Lion cub crown prince is tricked by a treacherous uncle into thinking he caused his father's death and flees into exile in despair, only to learn in adulthood his identity and his responsibilities. (IMDb)


I'm not going to edit this at the end as I want to see if I'm right, but I imagine this review might be one of the shorter ones, because what is there left to say about this magnificent movie that hasn't already been said in the twenty-four(!) years since it was released? There is only one minor nitpick I can think of, but is otherwise genuinely one of the best films ever made.


That flaw? It might not even be a flaw, but actually the opposite of one of the things that I talked about regarding the Uncanny Valley and humans not being able to pick up on unnatural issues in the Planet of the Apes movies. In other words, it's something that looks a little off to me, but might well be accurate.


And that 'issue'? The lions look a little too anthropomorphic when jumping - especially towards the camera - than feels believable. I've seen cats jump, and with lions effectively being bigger cats, I expected something a little different.


Now, I've seen some of the behind-the-scenes footage and the animators studying an actual lion, so it could just be that lions really do look like that and jump differently to regular cats. And that's it - the sole 'complaint' I have with the movie, and it might be something where I'm wrong about it!


I've never been a fan of musicals, and there are some Disney animated films where I have been put off because songs feel crammed in because they're expected in a Disney movie. In The Lion King, every single song is perfect and makes for one of the best soundtracks to any movie ever made.


Genuinely, there are a number of songs that match so perfectly to the visuals that you'll be tempted to rewind the movie and watch entire sequences over and over and over again. This starts with the pre-title sequence with "The Circle of Life", which is one of the greatest starts to a movie ever.


And then there are the visuals, which are absolutely gorgeous, with The Lion King quite possibly perfecting hand-drawn animation at feature film length. There are some computer-generated elements, but they blend so seamlessly that the overwhelming majority of the audience won't be able to tell the difference.


Aside from how it looks and sounds, The Lion King also has a fantastic story filled with brilliantly-performed, fully realised, memorable and entertaining characters. It's only when you look back at just how many different characters there are in the movie that you realise just how well the story was told to to all of them justice without once slowing things down.

Simba (Matthew Broderick as adult Simba) returns to face his past in The Lion King

My personal favourites are Timon and Pumbaa, played by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella respectively, who form an excellent double act while making pop culture references and occasionally breaking the fourth wall. Yes, they were doing a kids version of Deadpool when Ryan Reynolds was still a teenager reading those comics.


But the entire cast is amazing and helped by being given such wonderful characters to work with. I could easily artificially lengthen this review by picking out something for each of them because there is such an abundance of quality material that it's almost embarrassing for other movies.


I simply cannot stress just how good The Lion King is: every time before I re-watch it (which is usually once or twice a year), I wonder if it can live up to the memory of how good it was the last time, and it always surpasses those expectations. It is a masterpiece in every single way imaginable and the CGI-remake that is being made will have its work cut out to come anywhere close to this.


One final thing I will say to further praise the film is that, even though there is some violence, that this is an entirely family-friendly film - although one or two scenes might prove a little too emotional for especially young children.


Despite this, there is a definite sense of dread and threat from Scar and the hyenas towards Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas/Matthew Broderick) and his friends that many more 'mature' films struggle to recreate. There's no cursing and no blood, yet when danger is present, or hatred is felt, you will absolutely feel that come through.

The Lion King is one of the best films ever made, regardless of being animated. From top to bottom, from start to finish, it's one of the best-looking, best-sounding and best-performed films you could ever hope to see - and all without a single human being in sight.

[10/10]

 

Why a 10/10? The Lion King is absolutely breath-taking in every single aspect of its creation. In my scoring guide, I say that a 10/10 score doesn't necessarily mean 'perfect', but this movie might just be one of the closest to that particular term out of any I have ever seen.


To re-phrase something I said above: your memory will often remember things you enjoyed as being better than it really was, and things you really loved as being hard to match, often making it difficult to go back to them out of fear of ruining that 'perfect' memory.


The Lion King defies this for me, with every single re-watch at least matching, if not surpassing the previous occasion because of just how good it is. You know what? I've actually just thought of the biggest problem I have with this movie: it ends.

 
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