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: Winnie the Pooh (Stephen A. Johnson and Don Hall, 2011)

Winnie the Pooh

Here we have it, the last American hand-drawn animated film made to date…to my knowledge. I certainly hope this isn’t the last traditionally animated film that’s ever made; if it is, though, it certainly is a nice and sort of nostalgic film to end on! I think Winnie the Pooh is one of those characters that brings people back to a certain age: an innocent, pleasant, and comforting state in their lives. I sure do wish I could relate to that. That’s not to say I don’t know how it feels to be taken back to that period of my life, but Winnie the Pooh doesn’t take me there. I didn’t grow up with this character or his friends. I never read the books, I never saw the shows, and I’ve never seen the movies. I, of course, knew who the character was and would occasionally see a video of his, but I didn’t grow up with him. Therefore, I won’t be drawing too many distinctions between other Winnie the Pooh stories and this film. That being said, let’s go ahead and review this wonderful movie.

ANIMATION: The animation is really good in this movie. The look of this film matches the spirit of Pooh and the world he lives in perfectly: it’s very innocent. You see that in the inside cover of the book at the beginning of the film. I like that the backgrounds are kind of sketchy; that’s a very nice return to the original Pooh film and some of the Disney films around that time as well. Everything, for the most part, looks like it’s hand-drawn, too. Everything in the background (I may even say most things) looks traditional and not CG. That’s very nice, and very rare these days. Everything looks so innocent and childlike, I can’t help but smile as I watch this movie! I also like how the animation style changes during “The Backson Song.” I’ll say it again: if there aren’t anymore American cinematic films in the style of traditional animation, I’ll be very glad to know that this wonderful looking movie was the last one. Well done, movie. Well done.
Winnie the Pooh - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: The songs in this film are a heck of a lot of fun! They’re just so happy, cheery, fun, and, again, innocent! They certainly do keep me smiling throughout the movie. The songwriters and composer have a difficult task here. In addition to writing music and songs that help accompany the characters and the story (which is hard enough), they also have to embody the spirit of a world and character that are already well known. That’s not easy, but these people do a marvelous job! The film’s composer is Henry Jackman, and the songwriters are Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. A lot of people already know these two would go on to write the songs for another hit movie. I’m not going to spoil it here for those who don’t know already. Let’s just say the review to that film is coming soon. But enough talk – let’s talk about these songs!
1) Winnie the Pooh: There is no way you heard this song in the theater or wherever, and didn’t experience some kind of joy or happiness! Even people who haven’t seen The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman, 1977), like me, know this song! This number was written by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, and it embodies everything you want in a Winnie the Pooh story or movie. It’s whimsical. It’s fun. It’s charming. It’s cute. It’s innocent. What else can you say – it’s Winnie the Pooh! Even this pop version is great, and I don’t normally like pop versions of classic songs! This one is still nice, innocent, and respectful of the original! Way to go, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward! Thank you for keeping it classy!

2) The Tummy Song: What can you say? It’s Pooh singing about one of the most important things in the world to him. It’s a very nice song…Yeah!

3) A Very Important Thing to Do: I love that I can bop my head to this song. I love that it’s short and sweet. I love the bouncy music. This does sound like something the Sherman brothers would have written. It’s great!

4) The Winner Song: It’s nice. The lyrics are funny.

5) The Backson Song: I love this song! The lyrics are wonderful, the music is a ton of fun, and it’s just fun to hear what these characters think a backson is and does. Also, it moves the story along…Blah, blah, blah, I don’t care. So long as I get an innocent and fun song in a Winnie the Pooh movie that’s done right, that’s all I care about! Wonderful job, songwriters!

6) It’s Gonna Be Great: Musically speaking, this song is fun. I like listening to Jim Cummings spit out such wordy lyrics along with a quick musical accompaniment. I like the style of music. I like the instrumentation. However, it’s not as fun or memorable as the other songs. It’s a good song…just not as great as the lyrics make it out to be…

7) Everything is Honey: This is as close to a perfect Winnie the Pooh song as a song can get, besides the “Winnie the Pooh” number. I love that it opens with a heavenly and angelic intro, and then moves into a campy, upbeat tune. It is one of the happiest songs I’ve heard in a while. I wish I could write a song so delightful for something I love so much! This song is sweet!

8) So Long: I do like this song OK, but…I don’t get why it’s in this movie. What does it have to do with Winnie the Pooh? What’s the purpose of having it here? Did we just need a fun pop song at the end – any fun pop song? Is it because Pooh has great friends? Is it a song that speaks for Christopher Robin since these characters are his imaginary friends? What’s the purpose of it being here in the film? It’s the song that captures the spirit of Winnie the Pooh the least…at least out of all the songs in this film. I just don’t get the music style, the lyrics, or the tone. It’s a fine song on it’s own, but I don’t think it represents Winnie the Pooh that well.

ROMANCE: Oh…We could’ve skipped right over this section, huh? Well…Pooh is in love with honey. Does that count?
Winnie the Pooh - Romance

CHARACTERS: I’m going to cheat here a little and not talk about each of the characters individually. What would be the point of that? We all know these characters, and we all love them! Pooh himself is one of the most loveable and huggable characters in the world; I don’t know a single person who would be so cruel to say they hate Pooh! Yes he’s kind and caring, but he’s also naïve and very innocent. He has a childlike personality to him – a young child, a preschool kid. Tigger is bouncy (literally and figuratively), Rabbit is hard tempered, Piglet is cute and adorable (done right), Christopher Robin is kind and smart, Kanga and Roo make an awesome pair, Owl is a smart airhead, and Eeyore needs a hug! GOODNESS GRACIOUS! Why is he so sad? What is it going to take for this donkey to smile and be happy? What made him so sad to begin with? Eeyore, I’m so sorry! I’m here for you, man!
I’ll also say this: the voice actors are amazing! Again, they have the responsibility of embodying the spirit of characters we already know and love – characters that date back to before many of us were born! They all did a wonderful job!
Winnie the Pooh - Characters

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is pretty basic and straight forward. Pooh wants honey. Eeyore loses his tale. The characters try to save Christopher Robin from the backson. These are the stories that take place in this film. I like that they are connected, but they’re too spaced out from each other. Of course Pooh’s chasing honey the entire film, but the story with Eeyore stops in the middle of the film to focus on the story with the backson. After that story ends, near the end of the film, the movie finishes with the conclusion of Eeyore’s story. Why did we need to stop the first story? We’re reminded of it a couple of times during the other story, but for the most part it just stops. Other than that, the story is fine.
This film is also very funny. I was surprised by how many funny jokes were in this film. The stories aren’t hard to follow, and they fit the spirit of our characters.
The message is pretty straight forward. Pooh has to learn to put others’ needs before his own wants. It’s a good lesson, and it’s conveyed in a nice way.
Winnie the Pooh - Story 01

CONCLUSION: I know this review wasn’t as analytical as much as it was redundant, but how many times can you say something is good? The movie is just such a good movie! It’s wonderful! Even though I didn’t grow up with Winnie the Pooh and his friends and adventures, but this movie does take me back to being a little kid again! The characters are so innocent. Their adventures are so innocent. The songs are so innocent. The jokes are so innocent. The animation is so innocent. I love that for as innocent as this film is, it’s not pandering! It’s not patronizing adults or children! It’s just the world of these characters. The movie is as good as it is innocent – the goodness of the film lies in how innocent it is. I’m so glad I finally saw this film! It took me back to my youthful place of innocence, and I always love going to that place! I love this wonderful movie!
Winnie the Pooh - Conclusion