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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Lion King

A good try, but not as good as Beauty and the Beast

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 28, 1994 -- ``The Lion King'' is supposed to be the big hit of the summer and it is a good film, but I found it a little disappointing.

The Disney feature-length cartoon has dazzling computer-enhanced imagery. Interesting characters and one great song, ``Circle of Life,'' that comes at the very beginning of the film.

The voice characterizations, by James Earl Jones (Mufasa) and Jeremy Irons (Scar), Matthew Broderick (Simba) and Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi) are all very good.

So what's wrong with it? It's just that Disney has set the stakes so high with all the hype for this show, following on the heels of the studio's overwhelming success with ``Beauty and the Beast'' and ``Aladdin,'' that it can't measure up. They aimed high, but they missed the mark. Technically, this film is excellent. The artwork is outstanding. The film uses shifting fields of focus and some computer animation to achieve a very lifelike look. What it lacks is a good, compelling story. The main character, Simba, the lion king, is weak. He's not as interesting as his evil uncle, Scar, or some of the other side characters. Aside from ``The Circle of Life,'' the songs are not very memorable.

The story has to do with Simba, an outcast lion, finding his true nature and returning to the pride as king. Along the way, he meets two very interesting characters, a meercat named Timon (voice by Nathan Lane) and a warthog, Pumbaa (voice by Ernie Sabella) who really add a lot to the film.

No, it's not as good as ``Aladdin'' and ``Beauty and the Beast,'' but it's a heck of a lot better than most of the crap that passes for family entertainment these days. Kids ought to love it.

It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)