‘The Lion King’ still a classic

The Lion King

(Cert U, 88 mins, Animation/Family/Comedy/Romance)

Elderly lion Scar (voiced with villainous glee by Jeremy Irons) plots to usurp his brother, the majestic King Mufasa (James Earl Jones), and seize control of the grasslands in a fragile alliance with the hyenas.

The scoundrel orchestrates a devilish plan to kill Mufasa and newborn cub Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), the rightful heir to Pride Rock. Mufasa dies saving his son from a wildebeest stampede.

Poor Simba is overwhelmed by guilt – inflamed by Scar’s cruel words - and he flees his homeland and befriends the eccentric double-act of neurotic meerkat Timon (Nathan Lane) and flatulent warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella).

Years later, the now full-grown Simba (Matthew Broderick) chances upon his former sweetheart Nala (Moira Kelly), who tells of Scar’s despotic reign.

The Lion King is an unmissable roar from the past that returns to DVD and struts onto Blu-ray for the first time. Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff’s film effortlessly tugs the heartstrings.

The script strikes a perfect balance between laughter and tears and vocal performances are excellent from Broderick’s guilt-ridden exile to Irons’s slippery usurper, who gets all of the best lines, including that classic retort to young Simba’s question if he will like a surprise: “It’s to die for!” Lane and Sabella provide much of the comedy – Hakuna Matata and all that.

The potent blend of comedy, tragedy and utterly believable characters puts most recent animated features to shame and the pivotal stampede sequence is even more thrilling in 3D, available on one version of the Blu-ray.

A three-disc box set comprising The Lion King, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata is also available.

Rating: 5/5.

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