The Lion King (1994) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Lion King (1994)



Critic Consensus: Emotionally stirring, richly drawn, and beautifully animated, The Lion King stands tall within Disney's pantheon of classic family films.

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One of the most popular Disney animated musicals, The Lion King presents the story of a lion cub's journey to adulthood and acceptance of his royal destiny. Simba (voiced first by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, then by Matthew Broderick) begins life as an honored prince, the son of the powerful King Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones). The cub's happy childhood turns tragic when his evil uncle, Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons), murders Mufasa and drives Simba away from the kingdom. In exile, the young lion befriends the comically bumbling pair of Pumbaa the warthog (voiced by Ernie Sabella) and Timon the meerkat (voiced by Nathan Lane), he and lives a carefree jungle life. As he approaches adulthood, however, he is visited by the spirit of his father, who instructs him to defeat the nefarious Scar and reclaim his rightful throne. Borrowing elements from Hamlet, classical mythology, and African folk tales, The Lion King tells its mythic coming-of-age tale with a combination of spectacular visuals and lively music, featuring light, rhythmic songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, and a score by Hans Zimmer. Embraced by children and adults alike, the film also spawned hit songs ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight," "The Circle of Life") and a hit Broadway musical. In late 2002, The Lion King was re-released in the large-screen IMAX format. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Animation , Drama , Kids & Family , Musical & Performing Arts
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Matthew Broderick
as Adult Simba
Nathan Lane
as Timon
Moira Kelly
as Adult Nala
Ernie Sabella
as Pumbaa
Cheech Marin
as Banzai
Zoe Leader
as Sarafina
Niketa Calame
as Young Nala
Joseph Williams
as Simba (Singing)
Philip Proctor
as Other Voices
Judi M. Durand
as Other Voices
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Critic Reviews for The Lion King

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (23)

The Lion King, complete with jaunty songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, is undeniably and fully worthy of its glorious Disney heritage. It is a gorgeous triumph -- one lion in which the studio can take justified pride.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Between traumas, the movie serves up soothingly banal musical numbers (composed by Elton John and Tim Rice) and silly, rambunctious comedy.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

It's perhaps the closest Disney has come to creating a consciously mythical entertainment in the style of Star Wars. Yet like that film it keeps its sense of humor and fun.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Even with its flaws, this latest Disney animated feature once again delivers what its audience wants. Too bad flesh and blood films can't be this consistent.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

It bears repeating that The Lion King is quite entertaining as children's fare goes these days. But Disney has established a standard so high on animated features that anything less than a classic leaves you feeling that something's missing.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The rest of The Lion King alternates between grand-opera melodrama and low-comedy hi-jinks, superbly blending the two approaches.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Lion King


"The Lion King" has been such an important part of so many childhoods since it came out, but what is so remarkable is that, whereas some childhood entertainment loses a lot of luster once the nostalgia-goggles come off, I find my appreciation for this film to grow the older I get. I personally don't believe Disney has yet created a more beautiful film, since it isn't just a detailed rendition of African wildlife, but its such a deliriously colorful and expressively animated film to boot. The story is honest in its portrayal of the corruption that exists in the world, but more importantly, in the hope that good moral judgement can overcome such corruption. The voice cast is pitch-perfect, the soundtrack remains the absolute greatest in animated film history, and the script (while perhaps not wholly original) deftly balances searing emotional truths with charmingly silly antics.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer


(3D review) When hearing they were remaking one of my favorite Disney animated films in 3-D for its 20th anniversary, you can bet I got hyped, and boy did this film not disappoint. I saw this on opening day, now prior to hearing about this I hadn't seen the film in about 3 years so I didn't want it to be ruined if I watched it the week/night/month before seeing the film, and that was a wise decision on my part, because the refreshing of my memory with this film worked and it was almost like a new experience to me. Also the 3-D in this film is incredible, I'm rarely blown away by 3-D but here, my god, the 3-D matched the animation so perfectly, that this film and 3-D were made for each other.

Michael Edwards
Michael Edwards

Super Reviewer


A well made film with beautiful animation and a great soundtrack. Many of the themes are for a mature audience which isn't necessarily surprising for a Disney feature. It offers a powerful story that can be enjoyed by kids and adults. "The Lion King" is a film that defined my childhood and is one I still enjoy.

Eric Shankle
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

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