The 15th of June, 1994… that was the first time the world got to see The Lion King, for a limited run until it’s official release on the 24th of June that same year. So that means that our favorite king has really grown up now, celebrating its 20th, and what better way to honor the film, than to blast through all three films (yeah, I’m including the 1½ in the franchise).
But let’s start with the first one, the Hay-maker, the all-around-the-world success! A story about a king being betrayed by his brother, who puts the blame on the prince in order for himself to have the throne. With a premise like that, not much can go wrong. And lo and behold.. nothing did. From the very first scene to the very last, the movie has you in its grip and it refuses to let go and I feel it impossible to not tear up at least a few times during the film. Sure, it has its ups and downs just like any other film, but The Lion King’s lowest moment (I can’t wait to be king) is still better than other films high-points, which in itself says a great big deal about it.
I was 11 years old when I first saw the film in the theater and I’ve probably seen in 30 or 40 times since then, and I’m pretty much guaranteed that I’ll watch it just as many times in the next 20 years. It took its rightful place as my Favorite Movie Of All Time about 10 years ago and it stands proud still at that very top. I just love it, and I sincerely hope to catch the musical sometime, ’cause even if it’s just half as good as the movie, it’ll be awesome!
Onward, as they say to the next chapter of Simba’s reign as the king. As we get to see in the end of the first movie, Simba and Nala presents their own cub to the animal kingdom, just like we saw Simba being presented in the beginning. ..Simba’s Pride starts out just like it, with the addition of Timon and Pumbaa wisecracking it up how they’re gonna raise the kid like they did Simba, and BAM!, we learn that it’s a girl…. Jawdrop!
We’re treated with the same outline as the first one, watching Kiara as a child and then later on fully grown, falling in love with Kovu, who were supposed to be next in line for the throne have Scar kept his reign. It’s an interesting twist from the original story, as we see a pride of lions having been exiled from the Pride lands for standing behind Scar, and we get to see a darker, slightly more menacing threat than the hyenas.
The film saw its direct-to-video release in October 1998, and where it’s not AS GOOD as its predecessor, it still holds up today as it is in fact a great animated film. It brings back a few of the original voice casts, which is fantastic, and with the addition of the new cast, everything’s all good ‘n well in the Pride Lands.
Lastly, we have the 3rd installment of the franchise…. if you can call it that? Wait, you can’t? Oh yeah, it’s The Lion King 1½. That makes sense, doesn’t it? No.. not really, until you watch it. The 1½-installment takes place during the first one, but there’s not really much Lion King about it, no, it’s a backstory for Timon and Pumbaa. We get to see how they managed to end up finding Simba in the dessert and later on how they raised him. Sure, it’s a good film, but it’s obvious that it was made more for kids (and to exploit the two characters, you know, the ones who got their own TV show as well?)
Sure enough, we’re treated with a lot of goofing around, but there’s also a lot of hardship, as both Timon and Pumbaa are outcasts. Timon slightly more than Pumbaa, as he is actually driven away from his friends and family for being a dreamer (and also kind of a klutz), where Pumbaa never really had anyone. It’s a heartwarming story in it’s own way and even if it’s not even a contender to the first two films, you can’t ignore the fact that the duo is hilarious, which makes the film very watchable.
Now, it’s time for something completely different, but I’ll be back later on today with the promised (but slightly delayed) Fantasy Cast! But until then…… you know the drill….