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The Lion King
5 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers

Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Madge Sinclair, Robert Guillaume, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson, Nathan Lane, Moira Kelly, Jim Cummings, Ernie Sabella, Cheech Marin, Niketa Calame

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The Lion King (1994)
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Movie Review by Filmkiller
November 4th, 2011

I'm not a fan of talking animal movies, and I won't deny that Lion King loses some points on that conceit alone, but I loved Babe, so that's not the only thing about this flick that drives its value down.

To get right to the point, Lion King is Hamlet with lions and hyenas. Mufasa - "ooooo, say it again" - Mufasa (James Earl Jones) plays Hamlet/Simba's (Matthew Broderick) father, the step father is Scar (Jeremy Irons) and the mom is a girl and thus doesn't matter (hey, I didn't make the flick). Simba decides to run away after Papa Lion is gacked and hangs out with his food, a pig and some rat-thing. To compare them to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be greatly overstating it.

Talking animals aside, I'm also not partial to musicals. Where Disney has overcome this deficit typically is by making the songs, in a word, great. They're fun, clever, and usually accompanied by interesting performers and visual sequences like Ursula's 'Poor Unfortunate Souls' from The Little Mermaid or Frollo's 'Hellfire' from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Lion King's most memorable song is undeniably 'Circle of Life', which not only can I not remember anything other than the title lyric, also isn't integrated into the film but instead is background music for a somewhat visually interesting, but plot and character vacant, sequence. None of the other songs are especially memorable and lack any real gravitas or intensity, including Scar's 'Be Prepared'.

This rolls right into one of the film's other major problems: villains. Scar is depicted as weak, effeminate, whiny, and - in a word - gay. I have nothing against gay people, gay characters, or gay villains for that matter, but when they're showcased like Jack from Will & Grace, not bringing a lot of menace to the part. Scar does get an effective assassination scene - easily the film's best - but otherwise he's a limp noodle with no real redeeming qualities.

Scar exists merely as a domino for Simba to knock over once he's forced to take responsibility for all the lion's general laziness and inability to stand up to the usurper. This is accented by the villification of the hyenas - in the animal kingdom, it's the lions who are actually the dicks - Scar's allies, who together manage to destroy Mufasa's realm by somehow being responsible for a drought.

And this comes full circle to my beef with talking animal movies. Certain animals are villified while other are made to seem majestic and regal. Once side becomes the good guys, and the other the bad. I shouldn't have to explain how the moral lesson, however unintentional, of 'all things that look like that are evil' could be a bad thing for kids, but Lion King takes the lazy way out of character development; this is no more obvious than with Simba, a wafer-thin protagonist who never so much makes choices as he's bullied into doing one thing or another.

Lion King came on the heels of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, all A+ flicks, formula and Mermaid's poor feminist statement notwithstanding, of which Lion King lacks the pedigree.

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