I wanted to LOVE The Lion King, both when I saw it in 1994 and again just a few days ago. I wanted to LOVE it, but only REALLY LIKED IT.
There was nothing wrong with The Lion King. The animation was amazing, the story was classic (Hamlet-esque), the actors were . . .
Ah, therein lies the rub. You said it wonderfully in your review, Jodie. James Earl . . . Mufasa. I'll extend that to Jeremy (Klaus Van Bulow) . . . Scar. I had real trouble getting past that beautiful bass voice of James Earl Jones being that of James Earl Jones, and the reprise of Jeremy Irons' most famous line of his Oscar winning performance in Reversal of Fortune "You have no idea." Add Ferris Bueller --- Simba -- and it pulled me completely out of the movie (both in 1994 and 2004), except for those amazing scenes you mentioned.
Back in the Golden Age of Disney, the producers rarely used name actors in the roles, much less stars. They used solid actors whose names wouldn't take away from the characters. A more modern example is Frozen. The only actor who I was familiar with was Kristen Bell, and her only vaguely.
As a result, I stayed with the story.
But that's by the way.
I know that I'm being unfair here, but a movie about the circle of life invites comparison with other movies with the same theme. The movie I'm thinking of (also Disney) is Bambi, a movie I grew up with, a movie that saved the life of a couple of deer the times my father took me deer hunting, a movie that would be on my top 10 movies of all time.
I will say that the opening was brilliant, far and away the best musical number in the movie.
All of this aside, it is not fair that I do not have the same emotional history with The Lion King that I do with Bambi, but that's the way it is.
I have no doubt that I will watch The Lion King again, Jodie. I have friends with kids who LOVE it. Hell, I have friends who LOVE it. I have no doubt I will really like it.
Since my view of the movie has less to do with the movie itself than my own whims and caprices, I'm giving it a solid 8 out of 10.
It really is an excellent movie! Wonderful opening! I really liked it!
What did you give it, Jodie?
Read Jodie's review here.