The Lion King ★★★★★

One of the greatest films ever made, The Lion King is the very pinnacle of Disney's Renaissance Era that didn't just mark a creative high for the legendary animation studio but remains their most impressive work to date. An astounding masterpiece for all ages that's perfectly balanced in the smallest of aspects & still hasn't aged a day, this is without a doubt the greatest Disney film of all time.

Set in the Pride Lands of Africa, The Lion King tells the story of a young lion prince who flees into exile after the death of his father when his uncle tricks him into believing that he is the one responsible for the king's demise. Growing up with two outcasts & embracing their carefree attitude, he is ultimately forced to confront his past after a chance encounter with an old friend & decides to return to his homeland.

Directed by Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, the film opens on such a grand note that its prologue alone is much better than what most features churn out in their entire runtime. The whole story has an epic feel to it despite its grounded simplicity, the plot unfolds like a soothing breeze, the themes are handled with care, entertainment is top-notch and its carefully carved out characters add even more richness to the story.

Each frame of its beautifully rendered animation is a work of spellbinding craftsmanship. Characters are brilliantly sketched too & do manage to express emotions amazingly well. Cinematography makes expert use of colour palettes & vibrant use of camera angles. Editing provides a frenetic pace to the whole narrative & is at its best during the musical numbers, while CGI is seamlessly integrated into its hand-drawn imagery.

Although nearly every character in the picture has a well-defined arc, what makes them so much fun is the pitch-perfect voice cast that infuses new life into these characters & provides them their very own souls. James Earl Jones brings a king-like imposing aura to Mufasa, Matthew Broderick does well as Simba, Jeremy Irons is thrilling as Scar while both Nathan Lane & Ernie Sabella steal the show as Timon & Pumbaa with their impeccable timing & perfect chemistry.

And last but not the least, I'd like to talk about its magnificent score. Composed by Hans Zimmer who was just starting out back then, the exquisitely arranged & masterfully orchestrated score elevates what was already an incredibly fascinating tale to such a grandeur level of epicness that it still remains one of the finest uses of music in any animation feature out there. And further strengthening this aspect are catchy songs written by Tim Rice & Elton John.

On an overall scale, The Lion King is an extraordinary blend of a highly gripping story, deftly written screenplay, state-of-the-art animation, cleverly drawn characters voiced by wisely chosen cast, terrific use of humour, skillful camerawork, tight editing as well as an outstanding score plus sensational songs, all of which work in seamless harmony in order to set a new benchmark for its medium & at that, it effortlessly succeeds.

An emotionally stirring adventure that's full of heart, passion & creativity from start to finish, The Lion King is an unabashedly hilarious, occasionally melancholic, extremely intimate, thoroughly enjoyable, delightfully engaging, intensely thrilling, wildly entertaining & immensely satisfying fable about life, death, identity, responsibility & resurrection that borrows from William Shakespeare's Hamlet yet is able to carve out its very own identity before it fades out.

Marking the last great high for Disney's Renaissance Era that came crashing down soon after the advent of Pixar Animation Studios, The Lion King is a work of cinematic perfection that still stands tall & remains unblemished by the test of time and, for the epic this timeless classic is in every sense of the word, will continue to do so comfortably for a very foreseeable future. Absolutely worth your time & money, the crown jewel of Walt Disney Animation comes one hundred percent recommended.

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