CAST: Matthew Broderick, Niketa Calame, Jim Cummings, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jeremy Irons, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Moira Kelly; DIRECTOR: Rob Minkoff , Roger Allers; SCREENWRITER: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts; PRODUCER: Walt Disney; EDITOR: MUSICAL DIRECTOR; GENRE: Animation: Drama, Action & Adventure, Kids & Family, Musical & Performing Arts; RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
Cinema Rating: For viewers 13 years old and below with parental guidance
One of the most popular Disney animated musicals, The Lion King presents the story of a lion cub's journey to adulthood and acceptance of his royal destiny. Simba (voiced first by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, then by Matthew Broderick) begins life as an honored prince, the son of the powerful King Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones). The cub's happy childhood turns tragic when his evil uncle, Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons), murders Mufasa and drives Simba away from the kingdom.
Lion King goes on the rebound in glorious 3D. Children in the audience who apparently have seen the original (in DVD and television reruns of oldies) certainly do not mind watching this new 3D release. And certainly we find quite a number of them—and in fact sat next to them—who have memorized the songs and the story surely from the countless number of times they have viewed The Lion King’s 1994 version. Unlike most 3D movies which become dark and sometimes muddy on the screen, The Lion King retains its vivid colors, turning this second viewing into a wonderful feels-like-I’m-there experience for kids and adults alike.
The Lion King tells many lessons both for the young and the young at heart. Obedience is one of them—Simba learns the hard way that disobedience has unpleasant consequences when he ventures into the elephants’ graveyard. His father Mufasa tells Simba that “being brace doesn’t mean you go out looking for trouble.” He also sternly tells his cub Simba about the value of responsibility as an adult, especially since he will not be simply another animal in the savannah but a real ruler, the lion king.
Respect for creation and creatures is a well-pronounced value: “Everything you see exists together. There's a balance to the world and nature. … You must respect all the creatures.” Viewers may also pick up something about the “don’t worry” attitude repeatedly presented by Simba’s friends Pumbaa and Timon, often in their catchy song “Hakuna Matata”. While it is true that the worry-free motto is sensible, even biblical, it could also be overdone, leading one to lead a carefree but meaningless life.
Christians may take note of certain elements in The Lion King which are evocative of their faith. When feeling weak in a trying situation, Simba sees his dead father’s image in the cloud formations, and speaks to him. A shaman encourages Simba by saying “I know your father… he’s alive… I’ll show him to you… he lives in you…” When the baby Simba is presented to the kingdom all the animals bow in reverence. When he returns to the pride after a long absence, Simba is believed to have “returned from the dead to save his people.” Confronting his enemy whose life is now in his hands, he refuses to kill him to get even—“love your enemies”?
Parents should guide very young children, however, through the violent scenes. You know, animals attack or eat one another.