Directors: Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers
Original Release: 1994
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Lion King is the highest-grossing hand-drawn animated film of all-time. I did not know that until this weekend. I suppose it's easy to understand. The visuals are absolutely breathtaking. Some of the artists traveled to Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya for research on the setting. Our Girl chose this one because she watched part of it at her after-school program and wanted to see the rest.
The story, very loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, is... okay. Simba is a lion cub, heir to his father Mufasa, king of the pride. A jealous uncle, Scar, contrives to kill Mufasa and take the throne himself. While Scar had hoped to knock off Simba at the same time, the cub survives and Scar convinces him to run away in fear of being blamed for his father's death. Simba takes up with a meerkat and a warthog in a life of leisure and anonymity. However, Nala, an old friend, finds him and brings him back to challenge Scar and claim the throne.
The film's score is composed by Hans Zimmer but the real musical star of the show is Elton John, who wrote the songs, lyrics by Tim Rice. Confession: I love Elton John. I know he's been much parodied over the years - by himself as much as by anyone else - but he and his lyricist Bernie Taupin certainly have to be considered one of the great song writing teams in the history of popular music. The songs I like best I love for the lyrics so maybe it's Taupin I really like. Still, no one on earth makes a simple chord change sound as impressive as Elton John does. The Lion King songs are good but they rank far below the duo's best work from the '70s. Here's my favorite, a song which expresses my own feelings about New York perfectly:
The movie's fun, though definitely better for kids than for adults. When I asked how she liked it, Our Girl got that dreamy look in her eye. I expect this one will come around again in the rotation.