THE LION KING vs. FROZEN

The Lion King Poster  VS.  Frozen Poster

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!

The Lion King - Stampede

 

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!

The Lion King - Paw Print

 

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!

The Lion King - Characters

 

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!

The Lion King

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MOVIE REVIEWS: Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1992)

Aladdin

It appeared as if the Walt Disney Animation Studio was on a role as the twentieth century entered its last decade. It made a smash hit with its 1989 release of The Little Mermaid, it drew great critical praise with The Rescuers Down Under, and Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. The question was could Disney continue to make more phenomenal animated pictures? Enter Aladdin. So many people all over the world are in love with this movie. They love the characters, they love the songs, they love the comedy, they love the action – it definitely proved to be a great and fantastic hit. After finally having seen it, I can say that it’s good. I like the movie, but I don’t know if I love it as much as everyone else does. Why? Well, let’s get into the review.

ANIMATION: The animation is one of the best things about the film! Before I saw this film, I heard the designs of the city described as Arabia meets Vegas. To be honest, it really does work! The colors all pop. They are vibrant. They pretty much have a life of their own. I think if you were to take the characters away, the colors and the backgrounds could tell the story by themselves! They are so great and impressive to look at, and they’re just amazing!
Aladdin - Arabia

SONGS/MUSIC: Sadly, this is the last film to feature the wonderful lyrics of Howard Ashman. Ashman served as both lyricist and executive producer of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. He passed away before the latter film was released, but he already began working on this film. After he passed away, Tim Rice was brought in to help Menken with the rest of the songs. Let’s go through each of the songs individually:
1) Arabian Nights: I’m not going to lie, I don’t like this song. If you like the song, fine; and admittedly I do find the music catchy. But in all honesty, I cannot get past those racist, offensive lyrics. Whether you go with “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” or “where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense,” they still end with “it’s barbaric, but, hey, it’s home!” I’m going to side with the New York Times when they wrote, “It’s Racist, But, Hey, It’s Disney.”

2) One Jump Ahead/(Reprise): The first time I saw this movie, I thought to myself, “I’m not going to remember this song later.” Ironically, I did find myself humming the melody. I think Menken has a very strong sense of composing fantastic melodies – sometimes they’re more impactful than the lyrics. The song itself is nice. We get some exposition on our main character. We learn who he is, what he is, and what he does. It’s not the best song in the film, but it’s not a bad one, either. The lyrics are funny, and, again, the melody will have you humming for days.

3) Friend Like Me: THIS is my favorite song in the movie! It’s fun to watch! The words are impressive! The music is great! It’s fun to listen to! You can dance to it! But what really makes this song is the performer! Robin Williams brings so much energy to this song! I love that he gets just as animated as the animation does! I often joke that he sung the entire song in one take and the producers said, “Nope! We don’t need to do that again!” This song kicks butt!

4) Prince Ali: This is my second favorite song in the film. Again, Williams as the Genie just makes this song so much fun and entertaining. Outside of that, the melody and the lyrics will have you singing this song for about a week before you get it out of your head. It’s not as big as “Friend Like Me,” but it still brings the right amount of entertainment.

5) A Whole New World: Now we’ve gotten to it, the film’s Number One song. This is the song everyone remembers the movie for. I must admit, it is a beautiful song. It’s fun to see Aladdin and Jasmine together and enjoying each other this time. I like seeing their romance grow even more. I love how pleasant and whimsical this song sounds. It’s no “Beauty and the Beast,” but it’s still very nice to listen to.

6) Prince Ali (Reprise): I often joke that this is the greatest Disney villain song ever…I put emphasis on “joke.” It’s not the strongest moment for Jafar, but it’s entertaining enough. For me personally, it’s fun seeing how Jafar exposes Aladdin for who he really is. What’s really interesting about this song is that Tim Rice wrote the lyrics to the reprise while Ashman wrote the lyrics to the original. That means that Rice had to capture, not only the same syncopation and rhyme scheme, but also the same tone and spirit that Ashman created. He still had to bring something new, though, because this song was sung by Jafar, not the Genie. That’s great talent, and I think Rice succeeded.

ROMANCE: After seeing this movie, I realized that the romance here is the same as the romance between Ariel and Eric in The Little Mermaid. The main character sees his/her romantic interest and falls in love. They save their lives and they want to be with their lover. However, something keeps the two of them apart from each other. The main character has to alter their physical appearance in order to be with the other person. They eventually have to fight for the one they love, save them again, and then, after the day is saved, the male picks up the lady and spins her to signify that they are together. What I think works better in this movie, though, is that Aladdin and Jasmine spend a lot more time together. They talk to each other about their problems and even tries to help one another. Also, I like that Aladdin doesn’t keep his prince appearance in the end. Unlike Ariel, who remains human, Aladdin actually accepts who he is, and he and Jasmine are still able to stay together. That is a very good message for children to walk away with. It’s very well done.
Aladdin and Jasmine

CHARACTERS: This shouldn’t take too long. Let’s quickly go over the main characters in the film:
1) Aladdin – He’s OK. In my opinion, he’s not that interesting. He’s definitely not boring or dull, but nothing stands out about him as a character either. He’s not that exciting. But I enjoy watching him and seeing him interact with the others.
Aladdin - Aladdin
2) Jasmine – I think of her in the exact same regards as I think of Aladdin – she’s OK. She’s alright, she’s interesting enough, but she becomes a lot less interesting once she returns to the palace and stays there. I’m not too high on Disney characters always rebelling, but she rebelled once and immediately returned home and stayed there. Why didn’t she try running away again if she was so sick of living under the palace rules? I don’t know, but, in any case, Jasmine is OK.
Aladdin - Jasmine
3) Genie – This is easily the best character in the movie! Again, I didn’t grow up with the movie. I saw it for the first time almost a year and a half ago. As I was watching it I thought, “This is OK, but why was it such a huge hit during the Disney Renaissance?” Then the Genie came on screen, and all my questions were answered. Robin Williams puts so much into his performance as the Genie! He’s so much fun and very entertaining. But I love that he’s not just a pop cultural referencing, funny person. He also has some heart to him. He still expresses those human emotions of wanting something. He still gets sad, he gets hurt, he gets angry, he becomes scared, he can be joyful, he feels happiness. He is still a three-dimensional character. Way to go Genie, and much respect to the late and the great Robin Williams!
Aladdin - Genie and Robin Williams
4) Abu – OK, Abu annoys the crud out of me. I don’t like how selfish and greedy he is. He gets in the way! If it weren’t for him, Aladdin would not have been trapped. The homeless children could have had more to eat if he weren’t so stingy. I don’t feel any sort of sympathy for him. Every time I watch this movie and I see the Cave of Wonders begin to collapse, I find myself shouting to Aladdin through the screen, “Aladdin! You don’t have to go back for Abu! Really! He can burn in there!”
Aladdin - Abu
5) Magic Carpet and Iago – I put these two together because I have the same feeling for the both of them: they’re OK. I like them OK. Sure they can be a little annoying sometimes, but they’re not always annoying. To be honest, I don’t think Iago is annoying because of his voice. No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Gilbert Gottfried. My annoyance with Iago comes from what he has to say, which goes back to the writing. Either way, I still like these characters fine.
Aladdin - Magic CarpetAladdin - Iago
6) Jafar – If you read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list, you might have wondered why Jafar isn’t on the list. So many people declare him as one of the best Disney villains of all time…Well, I’m glad you saw that, but I didn’t. You see, after I saw Jafar in the first few scenes he was in, I thought, “Wow, this is a cool villain! He’s shady and mysterious. He keeps you wondering what he’s doing. This guys is cool!” Then he dressed up as an old man…A silly, goofy, cartoonish old man…Huh? I know he had a motivation for doing so…But did he really need the over the top voice, the jagged teeth, hunchback, and ridiculously skinny legs? This isn’t the Jafar I thought I as going to get! And let’s not forget some of his witty dialogue with Iago. I’m not saying Jafar can’t be funny, but this was not the villain I thought I was going to get. Speaking of his role as a villain, I think his power is incredibly weak. First of all, why was the Sultan able to just break out of the trance Jafar was putting him in? Yeah, he just decided not to be hypnotized! Huh? How the crud does that work? Secondly, he is not subtle with his power at all! He always leans in with his staff…in broad daylight! It’s quite interesting thinking how he’s able to get away with so much! No one in the palace ever saw him hypnotize anyone? Aladdin noticed it right away when he saw the Sultan under a trance, but no one else in the entire palace ever realized what was going on? I don’t get it. But that’s OK. If you like Jafar, that’s fine. Me on the other hand, I just can’t figure this guy out…But in all honesty, I do like the sound he makes when Jasmine throws wine at his face. That’s funny as crud.
Aladdin - Jafar

STORY & MESSAGE: I decided to put the message along in this category because talking about the story and the themes and messages of a movie are 2 different things, but the message needs to be addressed. The story is fine. It’s good. Like other Disney movies around this time, the story in this film is well paced. There are some flaws with the details in Jafar’s power, but as a whole it’s good…Also, I still don’t understand how Genie still has his powers if he’s not a genie anymore…Eh, whatever.
As for the messages and themes, I find myself liking them. Of course there’s the message of being yourself, which is conveyed rather nicely. When Aladdin decides to be himself, everything works out fine. When he tries to be something else, the role of Aladdin is taken over by a “tall, dark, and sinister, ugly man.”
There’s also the theme of freedom. Aladdin and Jasmine feel trapped in their surroundings. I can understand Jasmine’s yearn for freedom a lot more, but they both want freedom. Of course, Genie expresses how he wants to be free from eternal solitude. If you look closely, though, you’ll see that Jafar also wants freedom. He can’t stand working under someone he’s smarter than. His surroundings often look like bars on a jail cell. I like that subtly.
What I can’t wrap my head around, though, is what Disney was trying to say with the relationship between Jasmine and Jafar. Why the crud was Jafar lusting after Jasmine, who is only 15? Jafar looks like he’s in his 50s! OK, maybe he’s in his 30s, but does that make it any better? Jasmine would still be more than half his age! What, is pedophilia OK? I wouldn’t even talk about this theme if it weren’t for that kiss. What was the purpose of it? True, Jasmine did it as a way to distract Jafar from Aladdin, but if he was going to notice Aladdin anyway, what in the world was the point of that kiss?!? What was the movie trying to tell us? Was it bashing Arabian girls and women? Was it bashing Arabian men? Was it supporting pedophilia?…Actually, seeing as how Disney princesses are always so young, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were it. Maybe I’m looking too deeply into it, maybe I’m not looking deep enough. All I know is the image of Jasmine kissing someone more than twice or three times her age will never leave me. Creepy as crud.
Aladdin - Jasmine and Jafar

CONCLUSION: I do like this movie. It doesn’t impress me like it impresses other people, Jafar confuses me, and I will always question the choice to have Jasmine kiss Jafar. But I love how entertaining this film is. I love Robin Williams’ portrayal of Genie! I love the songs! I love the animation! I really enjoy this movie. I see why it was such a hit during the Disney Renaissance. To me, the film’s entertainment factor is more than worth the price of admission. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a watch…And rest in peace, Robin Williams!
Aladdin 01Aladdin - Robin Williams