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The Lion King

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Lion King

Starring: James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons
Director: Roger Allers
Rated: G
RunTime: 87 Minutes
Release Date: June 1994
Genres: Animation, Kids, Family, Music

*Also starring: Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Cheech Marin, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Moira Kelly, Ernie Sabella, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

The LION KING is technically an amazing and dazzling movie. I find it hard to review a cartoon. Perhaps, I could start by discussing some of the characters that were made special by the actor's voice.

Hands down, the best voice in this movie was that of Jeremy Irons who was the evil Scar, brother of the king Mufasa. Irons is brilliant in everything he does, but I think his best roles were BRIDESHEAD REVISITED and REVERSAL OF FORTUNE. He can play villains and good guys equally well. James Earl Jones was the voice of Mufasa, and although he was good, I expected more out of one of the most dramatic sounding voices in the movies today. Jones could have been a great orator (read politician I guess) had he not become an actor. Whoopi Goldberg was funny as a laughing hyena. I liked everyone except Mathew Broderick who I felt was too weak and unconvincing as the grown up Simba.

The movie's strengths, however, were not in the characters. The images and the soundtrack were the highlights. All of the music was very moving. The images had a 3D effect that I have not seen before. There was clear foreground and background in almost every shot, and sometimes they even varied the focus as you would in a "real" movie so that at first the foreground was in focus and then the background. My favorite part of the entire show was the vibrance of the colors. Monet would have come every day to see The LION KING.

Sad to say, I can not give it as high a rating as I would liked for two reasons. First, the story and the characters were okay, but they were not as interesting as they could have been. When they have to resort to lots of jokes about gas and bad breath, you know the script writers have run out of steam.

Second, the main audience for this movie is little kids. I have a 5 year old boy who went with us. Why oh why did they have to have someone who viciously murders his own brother in the sight of his brother's son? And if they felt they had to kill off a character, why be so explicit? Yes, this part of life does happen, but so does rape, incest, drive-by shootings and a lot of other stuff. Being true to life does not mean we have to subject little kids to it.

By the way, my son spent almost the whole movie in one of our laps, but claimed in the end to have not been scared (he was clearly scared while it was going on), and wanted to see it again. Actually, he wants to see LASSIE even more.

THE LION KING runs 1:26 (seems longer) and is rated incorrectly as G. Given the murders and attempted murders, it is clearly a PG show. I am glad we went, and I do recommend the show with the reservations noted. I give it ***.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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