Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Lion King (Disney)

The (in my opinion) only original story by Disney which made its way to becoming one of Disney's bigger successes. But it does not only appeal to the kids, but it wonders teenagers and adults just as much. In case you have not watched it, this is the story:

The setting is the vast plains of wild Africa. Here, the mighty lion king, Mufasa (James Earl-Jones), rules the Pridelands - his kingdom or "everything the light touches". He lives with his pride and his queen, Sarabi, in a great and majestic rock called Pride Rock. He has a new son, Simba, who will be the future king. This is much to his evil brother, Scar's (Jeremy Irons), disdain, as he wants to be king. He consorts with the hyenas, old enemies of the lions, to set up a plot to make himself king. The plan works perfectly and Scar succeeds in the murder of Mufasa. He manages to make young Simba believe that it was he who caused his father's death, and tells him to "run away and never return". Scar orders three hyenas to kill him, but Simba escapes, and the hyenas never spoke of their failure to remove this cub to anyone. Thus, Scar's cruel reign over the Pridelands begins.
On his own, Simba meets an unlikely pair - Timon and Pumbaa - a meerkat and a warthog. Living with them, Simba picks up their 'Hakuna Matata' way of life, taking one day at a time without a care in the world. And with them, he grows up into a fine adult lion (Matthew Broderick). On one occasion, Pumbaa falls prey to a hungry lioness and Simba comes to his rescue, only to discover that this lioness is his cub-hood best friend, Nala. They fall in love, much to Timon and Pumbaa's dismay. But soon they seperate after a small argument - Simba secretly still holds himself responsible for Mufasa's death and does not wish to return, while Nala insists that he does. But after the vision of Mufasa's spirit, telling Simba to "remember who you are", Simba returns to reclaim his rightful place as King. Nala, Timon and Pumbaa even catch up.
After returning, Simba finally realizes that Mufasa's death is not his fault and that Scar is the true murderer. With the help of his friends and pride, Simba defeats Scar and his army of hyenas, finally reclaiming his father's kingdom and rises as the new and rightful king, making it official with a majestic stand at the top of Pride Rock and realeasing two powerful roars.
The movie ends with Rafiki, the good mandrill-shaman, raising up Simba's new cub for the kingdom to see. And thus, a new generation begins...

An astounding movie, I never knew Disney was capable of making such an original story. They make wonderful and unrivalled adaptations, but this movie is a great original tale. Well, the affairs in this movie are all human-type, kings and murder and rivalry etc. But, well, no one would be very interested in seeing humans engaged in these affairs in some medieval castle in England or Scotland or something. So they made these characters animals, and what animal better to play a mighty king than a lion?
I find some parts a little bit hurried though. Like, in the case of the reunion of Simba and Nala, first they are talking joyfully and friendly, next they are walking off into the sunset and the love song plays, then they are in love, 2 minutes later they are at each other's throats. But it is not something to really notice, Disney planned the story out very well.
Also stars Rowan Atkinson, Jim Cummings and Whoopi Goldberg.

The music is wonderful! But, it is no surprise, it being composed by Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, The Prince of Egypt) and all. And one of the most loved songs comes from this movie: 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight', more famously performed by Sir Elton John, music also by him. 5 memorable songs have been composed for this movie, and one new one for the extended version.
The animation and the backgrounds of wild Africa are simply breathtaking. And I simply love the way they design and animate the animals! I love how the lions are done, Mufasa especially. Now that is one handsome beast, seriously. I find that he somewhat outshines Simba, who is very well done by the way. They gave him an absolutely lovely mane!
In the special edition, although the extension is really not as good as in "Beauty and the Beast", it is acceptable and fits in rather well with the movie (though it is not very significant). If you love animation, you cannot miss this!
My rating: 4/5*

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