Disney Marathon: ‘The Lion King’

We can never have enough big cats. Last week we had a tiger, now we have a whole pride of lions! And a meerkat!

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 8 year old princess) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: The Lion King

Released: 1994

Director: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff

Cast: Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Moria Kelly, Niketa Calame, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings

Plot: Simba, a young lion cub, is looking forward to becoming a powerful king. His future is thrown askew when his diabolical uncle orchestrates the death of Simba’s father, King Mufasa.

Review: This movie came out at a time when I was really getting into cinema, and it was a big hit in our household. Looking back at it more than 25 years later we can say that it absolutely holds up. It has a bold animation style, a phenomenal soundtrack and a near perfect narrative. You’d be a fool to try and remake it.

The Lion King is the kind of movie that is difficult to review, because I don’t have many things to critique it on. Instead we’re just going to talk about some of the parts that stand out even after years and years of rewatching.

Whilst Broderick and Taylor Thomas are perfectly fine as the adult and child Simba respectively, it’s the supporting cast who bring the movie to life. James Earl Jones brings his perfectly deep and sombre baritone to the role of King Mufasa, making everything he says immediately quotable and powerfully resonant. Even better is Jeremy Irons as the sinister Scar (although it’s weird he’s the only one in the family with a British accent). He is clearly having more fun dripping menace onto the role than everyone else in the movie put together. Rowan Atkinson brings his dry humor to Zazu, getting an early example of Disney’s current self-depreciating jabs in with the ‘Small World’ reference.

When it comes to musicals it’s easy to focus on the songs performed within the narrative, but the entire soundtrack is noteworthy. The orchestral piece accompanying the wildebeest stampede turns it into a breathtaking moment. Hans Zimmer is on form here.

Considering this film was famously created by the B-Team of animators whilst the studio was focusing its efforts on Pocahontas, it’s something of a masterpiece of animation. Possibly because it was Disney’s first original story and the creative teams were given more control they were able to bring to life something that felt more personal to them. It’s one of the only films from this era where the new computer effects were perfectly integrated into traditional animation and it still looks mostly seamless today.

The film-makers have managed to pace this story perfectly, meaning that we go from one unique set piece to another without making it feel episodic. Since there’s not a flat moment in the movie it’s easy to revisit. There’s no songs that put the rest of the story on hold, there’s no exposition that feels forced. It’s just a solid story from beginning to end. It’s little wonder that this was the peak of the Disney Renaissance.

Best Song: ‘Be Prepared’ is a phenomenal villain song, but the bright and colourful animation and use of animal patterns in ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ edges it out.

Coolest Easter Egg: I am not aware of any Easter Eggs in this film. And before you start telling me that it says ‘SEX’ in the sky, it actually says ‘SFX’ and was a nod to the special effects department.

Weirdest Trivia: When this film is put alongside The Princess and the Frog, you get Cheech and Chong both appearing in Disney movies.

There are no recorded lion roars in the movie. All the lion noises were provided by legendary voice actor Frank Welker.

Rating: TEN out of TEN



Perhaps if this movie had been released during my childhood it would take the top spot. As such, it’s only going to break the top 5. I guess Disney will just have to live with it.

Click those titles if you want to see what we said about the other movies.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Robin Hood
  3. Aladdin
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  5. The Lion King
  6. Wreck-It Ralph
  7. Alice in Wonderland
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Moana
  10. Big Hero 6
  11. The Great Mouse Detective
  12. The Little Mermaid
  13. Frozen
  14. Tangled
  15. The Sword in the Stone
  16. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  17. Mulan
  18. Cinderella
  19. Emperor’s New Groove
  20. Fantasia
  21. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  22. The Three Caballeros
  23. The Jungle Book
  24. The Princess and the Frog
  25. Hercules
  26. Oliver & Company
  27. The Aristocats
  28. Saludos Amigos
  29. Home on the Range
  30. Bolt
  31. Dinosaur
  32. The Fox and the Hound
  33. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  34. Pocahontas
  35. A Goofy Movie
  36. Fantasia 2000
  37. Treasure Planet
  38. Chicken Little


Amelia tends to enjoy watching this, but never chooses to watch it herself. Possibly the lack of princesses.

  1. Frozen
  2. Moana
  3. Tangled
  4. The Little Mermaid
  5. Emperor’s New Groove
  6. Zootopia
  7. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  8. The Great Mouse Detective
  9. Home on the Range
  10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  11. Mulan
  12. Hercules
  13. Alice in Wonderland
  14. Cinderella
  15. Wreck-It Ralph
  16. Bolt
  17. Pocahontas
  18. Dinosaur
  19. The Aristocats
  20. The Princess and the Frog
  21. Robin Hood
  22. The Jungle Book
  23. Fantasia 2000
  24. The Lion King
  25. Beauty and the Beast
  26. The Three Caballeros
  27. The Fox and the Hound
  28. The Sword in the Stone
  29. Saludos Amigos
  30. Oliver & Company
  31. Aladdin
  32. Treasure Planet
  33. Big Hero 6
  34. Fun and Fancy Free
  35. A Goofy Movie
  36. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  37. Chicken Little
  38. Fantasia


We haven’t been able to work out why Joshua ranked this one further down his list, as he’s chosen to watch it a number a times. Who knows what they’re thinking.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. Aladdin
  4. Emperor’s New Groove
  5. Treasure Planet
  6. Moana
  7. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  8. The Three Caballeros
  9. Saludos Amigos
  10. Wreck-It Ralph
  11. Frozen
  12. Mulan
  13. The Princess and the Frog
  14. The Lion King
  15. The Jungle Book
  16. Robin Hood
  17. Bolt
  18. The Sword in the Stone
  19. Beauty and the Beast
  20. Oliver & Company
  21. Tangled
  22. The Great Mouse Detective
  23. Cinderella
  24. The Little Mermaid
  25. Home on the Range
  26. Pocahontas
  27. A Goofy Movie
  28. The Aristocats
  29. Fantasia
  30. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  31. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  32. Fun and Fancy Free
  33. The Fox and the Hound
  34. Fantasia 2000
  35. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  36. Dinosaur
  37. Hercules
  38. Alice in Wonderland
  39. Chicken Little