100. The Lion King (1994) - The Part-Time Critic

Monday, March 16, 2009

100. The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King (1994)
Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff

Coming in at #100, is the first of two Disney musicals that I couldn’t live without. The Lion King is enjoyable to watch with plenty to enjoy for adults and kids alike. Many today consider it a classic film but I would have to disagree with that assessment. I find the whole Timon and Pumba section of the film is a little flimsy, as is Scar’s idiotic revelation to Simba about the truth of Mufasa’s death. However, the film doesn’t make the list because of those things.

I love watching the Lion King for its incredible opening sequence (which my friend Peter Chan claims is the greatest of all-time), a great short film unto itself. Its one of the truly great sequences in all of cinema, with wonderful animation, incredible music and a great climax. The decision to end the film with a similair sequence is genius. The Lion King is also blessed with an excellent villain that gets one of the best songs of the whole film, “Be Prepared”. Jeremy Irons clearly relishes the villianous role of Scar, a type of characer he would get to do again the very next year in Die Hard With a Vengeance.

On top of that, The Lion King features one of Hanz Zimmer's best scores. A perfect mix of African sounds and a grandiose orchestra really elevates this rather simple story into something quite epic. Although the song soundtrack isn’t as good as some of the other Disney musicals (I would rank it below Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) there are still some very memorable tunes on this one. My favorite is “Circle of Life”, but if they had used the Elton John version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in the film itself, I would choose that one.

All of these factors help to make this film essential for me, but the number one reason this film works for me is because the central character transformation that Simba must go through works perfectly. From a cocky, scared, soon to be King, to a reluctant but confident savior, Simba is a great character and the film bookends his opening presentation to the pridelands with his triumphant return to pride rock powerfully. They represent the strongest emotional points in all of the Disney hand drawn films, and I wouldn’t want to do without them.

Other Essentials: The character of Rafiki and his "The past can still hurt" sequence with Simba. The outstanding stampede sequence.


  1. Will you surprise me with 'The Little Mermaid' as your second Disney musical? :) Anyway, we both know how much I adore 'The Lion King', so it's nice to see it on your list- even if it's #100.

  2. Perhaps this blog will be the place where my secret love for 'Pocohantas' comes out?