Warhawk’s review published on Letterboxd:
Disney just seemed like they were showing off this entire film. This film wouldn't be nearly as special without the absolutely breathtaking score that brings gravity to every scene. The animation seemed very daring in comparison to prior entries by the Disney Company (so many colors used in a unique way that bring life and striking contrast to every scene) and I really liked the borrowing of so many African styles to make the film.
The film itself starts with a father trying to explain to their child the concept of responsibility and how good they really have things, while also teaching them perspective. Everything has its place and in the circle of life everyone has a part and is in some way subservient to someone or something else. The whole exists because of the individual, and since this is the case the individual can't exist without affecting the whole. Living without worry or regard for the consequences of your actions is just shirking responsibility at the cost of someone else. Simba's absence of fear as a cub was only because he had never known danger, and his entitlement was only because he had never experienced destitution. This is found regularly among our first-worlders, who lament that they can not garner fame or have everything that tickles their fancy.
Simba is representative of the wayward in all of us who have forgotten who we are and what we are supposed to stand for. We are royalty, and we are responsible for upholding our kingdom and those within it. When we are complacent, we as people rot inside and growth is stifled until we eventually die a desolate wasteland of a person. Really the film comes down to a very religious vision of humanity, one that has the light of God reflected in every face, the idea of an afterlife, and the moral duties that come with those concepts.
The symbols of the film are so iconic that almost thirty years later almost everyone who knows pop culture knows Pride Rock, they know the vision in the clouds, and they know that iconic opening sequence if nothing else. It's a film that has entrenched itself into our culture even, and it is a fantastic example of stellar film-making.