SYNOPSIS: Experience the power of "Upendi" - which means "love" as Kiara, Simba's strong-willed daughter seeks adventure away from her father's watchful gaze. Timon and Pumbaa can do only so much to protect her, especially when she encounters an intriguing rival, Kovu, a cub who is being groomed to lead Scar's pride. As Kiara and Kovu search for their proper places in the great "Circle of Life", they discover that it may be their destiny to reunite their prides and bring peace to the Pride Lands.


The third highest grossing animation movie of all time which worked out to a combined worldwide box-office of US$899 million, “The Lion King” received a diamond edition DVD treatment in conjunction with the release of a 3D edition in theatres later this month.

Before the on-slew of computer generated animations, Walt Disney remains the undisputed king when it comes to hand-drawn animation features. “The Lion King” was released after the success of “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” and what’s surprising to many, it doesn’t contain a single human character including princesses to explain the phenomenal success.   

For those who are too young to remember the storyline and for those who are too old to bother watching a cartoon back in 1994, “The Lion King” tells the story of a rebellious young lion, Simba who was led to believe that he has caused the death of his father by his evil uncle, Scar. After years of wandering with two free-spirited animals, Timon and Pumbaa, Simba finally returns to his homeland to reclaim back his father’s throne.

Controversies surround the initial release of the movie, one very obvious case being it bears too many similarities to the Japanese animation series, Kimba the White Lion (it was shown on national TV in the early eighties). I shall leave the judgment to you since you can simply do a Google regarding the issue yet “The Lion King” remains a classic title in the Disney vault. Like many Disney titles, the movie contains many heart-warming messages in which any parents can make a reference to. The incredible rousing song-and-dance sequences written by Tim Rice and Elton John with additional scoring by Hans Zimmer are simply a triumph. The theme song “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” gets repeated airplay still.

The animation at that time was considered groundbreaking with usage of computer animation notably for the movie’s money shot, the wildebeest stampede sequence. But it’s the voice casting that probably stands out the most. The comedic sidekicks, Timon and Pumbaa voiced respectively by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella are still memorable to many audiences over the years. Jeremy Irons is menacing as the scheming Scar. Whoopi Goldberg voices one of the hyenas, Shenzi and Rowan Atkinson aka Mr Bean shines as the talky hornbill, Zazu. Not forgetting Darth Vader, James Earl Jones as the imposing Mufasa, Simba’s father.

After a span of 17 years, we still love the lush opening sequence, embrace the young Simba’s track “I can’t wait to be king”, lap up the romantic Simba and Nala frolicking in the forest scene and the amazing surreal sequence of the late Mufasa dispensing advice to his guilt-ridden son. Experience the golden age of Walt Disney with the re-release of “The Lion King” diamond edition DVD if you too miss the Broadway musical version at Marina Bay Sands earlier in the year, it’s also economically viable as well if I must add.


Producer Don Hahn explains the process of bringing The Lion King to the big screen with assistance from past footages and interviews with the various crew members involved in the production in The Lion King: A Memoir - Don Hahn.


The English Dolby Digital 5.1 is a thundering listening experience note the stampede sequence. Dialogue is clear, Hans Zimmer’s score is lush and the music pieces by Tim Rice and Elton John is a joy to listen. Hand-drawn animation continues to amaze even with this title being 17 years old. Picture quality remains fascinating and spectacular.  



Review by Linus Tee