This year is the 25th anniversary of the release of the first Jurassic Park. For most of us at Cinedelphia, it is a film that has defined what we look for in a summer blockbuster. So what better time than now to revisit the last 25 years of summer blockbusters and pick our favorites? View the criteria and full introduction here, and the whole series here.
12. The Lion King (dirs. Roger Minkoff, Roger Allers, 1994)
The Lion King meant a lot to me. Let’s put it this way… I had two cassettes on rotation in my Sony Walkman in 1994: Michael Jackson’s Bad and The Lion King soundtrack. Can you tell how not-cool I was as a kid? Along with Jurassic Park and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Disney’s reimagining of Hamlet against the backdrop of an anthropomorphic African animal kingdom is up there as one of the films that showed me how transformative an experience the movies can be. Right from the first frame, when that now iconic Zulu bellowing begins “The Circle of Life”, and an action-packed sequence of jaw-dropping hand-drawn animation ensues, The Lion King transports you into a colorful, musical, propulsive world with a classic Shakespearean story that kids and parents alike can appreciate. Add to that the Oscar-winning music of Tim Rice and Elton John, supported by a Golden Globe-winning score by none other than Hans Zimmer, as well as stellar voice work from James Earl Jones as Mufasa (with a voice so nice, they cast him twice!), Rowan Atkinson as Zazu, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella as Timon and Pumba, and especially Jeremy F’ing Irons as Scar, who somehow chews scenery in an animated film, and you have what I truly believe is one of the best Disney films made to-date, as well as one of the best summer blockbusters parents, kids, and movie-going audiences in general could ever ask for.