When we were ten years old and the Lion King came out, we thought it was the best Disney film we’ve ever seen; surpassing Aladdin the year before. From the gorgeous visuals, engrossing score, and toe-tapping songs, and relatively straightforward, strong story about redemption, duty, and family, it seemingly had everything we could possibly want in a movie. Plus, LIONS. The Lion King came out in theatres eighteen years ago. We hadn’t laid eyes on it for thirteen, until we broke out the VHS videocassette and gave it a watch to see if it was as good as we remember.
It is, and we’re not just saying that with our eyes glossed over with nostalgia; it’s a great little film. One thing we didn’t know way back when was how short it was – just 88 minutes, or three-quarters of your typical Miyazaki flick. But it uses those 88 minutes very efficiently. It never lags, and when it seems like it’s about to, we’re treated to another song. The songs themselves are just as fun and addictive as they were when we were kids; and we still remembered many of the lyrics. How couldn’t we; this is a film we must’ve seen dozens of times in our youth. The film is full of clever dialogue and plenty of rapid-fire, droll repartee among the adult characters. Mufasa , Zazu, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa and Rafiki’s voice work is top-notch.
Watching The Lion King all grown up, we gained a fresh sympathy for Scar, even if the film gives him none; he just happened to be born after his bigger, stronger brother, and a pride doesn’t need two males, so he’s just out of place in the world. It’s not surprising he’d seek solace consorting with hyenas, who seem like a lot of fun. Even when he’s pretending to show genuine concern when warning Mufasa that Simba’s in the gorge, he sells it so well we believe it. As for young Simba, well, he’s much more of a spoiled little shit than we remember. He kinda had to exile himself till he grew up anyway; there’s no such thing as a cub king. The Lion King has aged specacularly, representing the apex of non-Pixar Disney feature films.