A short while ago, I started seeing a bunch of versus movie videos on YouTube, and a lot of them were Disney movies: old Cinderella (Clyde Geronimi, 1950) versus new Cinderella (Kenneth Branagh, 2015), Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 1991) versus Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1992), and so on. Yeah, they were pretty odd, but the strangest one, in my opinion, was Tangled (Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, 2010) versus Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013). People were comparing these movies? Fans were trying to determine the better one between the two? This was odd to me for a couple of reasons. First, Frozen is better. Second, these aren’t the movies I’d put together. To me, the real competitor of Tangled is The Princess and the Frog (Ron Clements and John Musker, 2009). If you read my review of these movies, you already know which movie I think is the better. Maybe I’ll make a versus post between them later, though probably not. But I digress. The real competitor of Frozen, however, is…drumroll please…The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)! Right now, the Walt Disney Animation Studios is enjoying the Disney Revival, which is very reminiscent of the Disney Renaissance from the ’90s. The Princess and the Frog became The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989) for today’s youth. Winnie the Pooh (Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, 2011) is like today’s The Rescuer’s Down Under (Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel, 1990). And Frozen is today’s The Lion King. Both movies are incredibly popular, they brought in TONS of money, they’re still memorable, and we’re still singing the songs. But which movie is the best? Which is truly the better complete film? Well, I must admit that The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie ever, as well as one of my favorite films period. But putting personal feelings aside, I’m looking at this from a fair, analytical perspective. I’ll be judging this based on the same categories I review these films: animation, songs and music, romance, characters, and story. That being said, let’s dive in and see which is the better movie. This is The Lion King vs. Frozen!
ANIMATION: The animation in both movies is spectacular! I love how animation can transport us into worlds that don’t look like our own, but feel like our own. The way Frozen makes winter look is incredible! This is the kind of winter we dream about – the kind of winter we want to see! I also love how the ice and the snow look. The texture, the weight, and the shape of them is just outstanding! I love it!
To be honest, however, those are the only pieces of animation that really impress me in this film. In The Lion King, everything impresses me! From the first frame, I’m instantly spellbound! Look at how the animators captured Kenya! Look at the sunrise! The sky! The trees! The mountains! The complete landscape! The waterfall! They not only brought the size, scope, and spirituality of Kenya to the film, but they made it a bit more epic by adding mythological elements to the layout. But what really does it for me is the animals! The Lion King has an all animal cast. This means the animators had to really capture the movements and behaviors of all these lions, hyenas, wildebeasts, giraffes, elephants, birds, ants, and everyone else! They don’t just become animators trying to draw animals – the animals are just there! Simba is a lion in this movie, not a cartoon or animated character! The characters are alright in Frozen, but they’re humans – they’re ordinary. Also, they have a sort of plastic texture to their skin; the people look more like toys and dolls than actual humans.. Point goes to The Lion King!
SONGS/MUSIC: These movies have some of the best and biggest Disney soundtracks of all time! We can’t help but hear these songs in our heads whenever we think of these films. And The Lion King doesn’t just have great and fun songs to accompany the film; it also has an amazing score composed by the great Hans Zimmer to go with it! And again, Lebo M. helped bring the sound of the music to the continent of Africa! We’ve got some fantastic talent behind the music here!
Again, I personally love the songs from The Lion King more. One thing I realized about this film in contrast to other Disney movies is The Lion King doesn’t have one Number One song. Most people would agree the Number One song from The Little Mermaid is “Under the Sea.” The Number One song from Beauty and the Beast is “Be Our Guest,” and the Number One Song from Aladdin is “A Whole New World.” We can name other songs from those movies, but those are the songs most people remember the most. While, of course, Frozen has “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “For the First Time in Forever,” we all know “Let It Go” is the film’s Number One song. However, if you were to ask a large group of people to name the Number One song from The Lion King, some would say “Circle of Life,” some would say “Hakuna Matata,” and some would say “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” TAKE THAT, FROZEN!
Also, as my girlfriend pointed out, the you can tell all the songs in The Lion King have a consistent style or genre. They all sound the same. Part of that comes from the fact that the filmmakers and music leaders wanted to capture the spirit and culture of the land this film is set. The style of the songs in Frozen isn’t as consistent. Some of them sound like musical theatre, some of them sound like modern pop music, the ice cutting song sounds like Irish-type music, and the music over the studio logos reminds you of The Lion King anyway. Having said all that, the point should go to The Lion King, right? Well…
While I love and prefer the songs from The Lion King…I have to admit…the songs from Frozen are better. Why? Because they actually do a better job of tying the songs into the story and what’s going on. No, not all of them do that, but, again, they do it better than The Lion King. Songs like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “For the First Time in Forever,” “Love is an Open Door,” and “Let it Go” continue the story and tell us how the characters feel. The only songs to really do that in The Lion King are “Circle of Life” and “Be Prepared.” I can make arguments for “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “Hakuna Matata,” but it’s pretty obvious which movie utilize the songs more. What can I say? Point goes to Frozen.
ROMANCE: Is there really a competition here? I love The Lion King, but I know that the romance in that movie is unnecessary. The story is about coming to age, accepting responsibility, and the care and balance of life…Where the crud does a romance fit in to this? OK, romance is a part of life, but how does it fit into the story the filmmakers were trying to make? It doesn’t!
In Frozen, the romance is much better intertwined with the story. Anna’s romance with Hans is sort of the initial incident that sets the rest of the movie into motion. When Elsa and Anna fought over the sudden engagement, Elsa’s nerves got the best of her, prompting her to run away. After that, Anna’s discovery of true love begins. Not only does she learn the dangers of giving her heart to any random person, but she also develops a romance with Kristoff. I also like that their romance doesn’t end with a marriage or “true love,” but rather an attraction. They’re attracted to each other, they’re dating. All in all, the romance in Frozen works its way in the story much better than The Lion King. Point goes to Frozen!
STORY: OK, I know that I usually follow the romance with characters, but that section actually gave me a hard time. I’ll talk about that in a minute, but let’s skip over it and go to story for now. Both of these films have really great stories! Whereas Frozen is very loosely based on The Snow Queen and The Lion King is…inspired by Hamlet, both films still stand out as unique. But which story is told better? Neither story is told perfectly, there are some holes in both of them; but they’re still good stories, and they’re told rather well. To be honest, this category almost gave me as much difficulty as the characters. I stumbled for a minute, but here’s what it came down to…
One of the main problems people have with Frozen’s story is the reveal that Hans is the villain. It could have been a clever, welcomed surprise twist like the reveal in Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012). In that film, hints were given throughout the film that supported why and how King Candy’s being Turbo could work. It made sense. It was a good surprise. It was smart. In Frozen, however, the surprise twist was random and seemed to come out of nowhere. The reason it doesn’t work that well is because there isn’t anything in the film to support the reveal of Hans as the villain. True, he talks about having 12 older brothers, but what else justifies him being the villain. There wasn’t a villainous thing he did in the film prior to the twist.It offers more questions than it does answers. Was Hans making up his plan all along? Why did he keep Elsa alive for so long when there were several opportunities he could have killed her? When he finally does kill her, why do it in front of everyone? I’m not saying this is a bad twist, but it wasn’t set up that well. It’s like the romance in The Lion King; if the filmmakers wanted this twist to be in the movie and have it work, they needed to work it in the story better.
Ironically enough, we sort of have the same problem in The Lion King. Scar had a perfect opportunity to kill Simba himself right after the stampede. Why the crud didn’t he? None of the reasons I hear ever really hold water, so it does become a plot hole. So, then, if both stories have the same story, is there a worse one? Well, in my opinion, I’d have to give the point to The Lion King. Why? Because in that movie, what you see is what you get. The film as a whole cares about telling a good story. There’s symbolism in there and everything, but the filmmakers aren’t trying to throw any clever twists at you. In Frozen, they are. One twist works, but the other one, as I discussed, doesn’t. Again, if they wanted the twist, they should have worked it in better. It’s not clever otherwise. Therefore, point goes to The Lion King!
CHARACTERS: OK, so the score is all tied up. This category will be the deciding factor; let’s get back to the characters. This section gave me the hardest time because both films have a great cast of characters! I’ll admit it, I enjoy Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Hans, the Duke of Weselton, and Olaf. But I’ll always love Simba, Mufasa, Sarabi, Zazu, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa, Nala, Rafiki, and the hyenas! It is hard! They’re all fun, they support the story, they’re very relatable, and they’re timeless…Then again, are they?
This is actually where I was able to make the distinction. While I believe both casts are going to be timeless and beloved forever, I think the cast of The Lion King is more timeless. The cast of Frozen still feels modern. The language they use and their behaviors reminds me this film was made in the 2010s. Nowhere is this truer than in Anna. Her quirkiness and awkwardness really make her a product of this modern age we’re in now. “This is awkward. I mean, not this – not you. I’m awkward! You’re gorgeous. Wait, what?” You hear so people talk like that today. I’m not saying Anna or any of the other characters will be forgotten 20 years from her, but I do think this makes her at least a tad bit dated. When I watch the characters from The Lion King, I don’t get 1990s. I just see Simba. All I see is Timon. He’s just Pumbaa. They’re just Mufasa and Rafiki. They don’t seem dated or a product of the ’90s. If it weren’t for that, this section would be a tie, causing this contest to be a tie. However, since the timeless factor rests more with The Lion King cast, I must give it to that film. Point goes to The Lion King!
CONCLUSION: Well, with a score of 3 to 2, The Lion King wins, becoming the better movie! Does that mean I hate or dislike Frozen? Not at all! I really like that film! And if you think Frozen is better than The Lion King, there’s nothing wrong with that either. For me, however, I can objectively and subjectively declare The Lion King as the better movie between the two! COME AT ME!