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HomeBlogPopcorn Parent Movie ReviewsMovie Review: The Lion King 3D (G)

Movie Review: The Lion King 3D (G)

 

lionking3d450Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal

Length: 89 minutes

MPAA Rating: G

Age Appropriate for: 6+. The film only contains cartoon violence, but I still think Mufasa dying can seriously ravage young children’s minds. A PG rating might be a little more accurate, given how traumatic that scene is (seriously, I still sob).

Argh, Disney! ‘The Lion King 3D’ is a cheap money-grab, and yet, it’s still one of Disney’s best movies from the studio’s golden ‘90s. Movies this good just don’t age.

By Roxana Hadadi

What Disney is doing by re-releasing “The Lion King” in 3D is really quite disgusting, isn’t it? The 1994 film is one of the best from Disney’s golden era during that decade, which also saw the releases of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” and it’s one of the most easily accessible adaptations of “Hamlet,” no?

And then there are the songs. And that ballad by Elton John. And the voice acting from ‘90s teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and ‘80s teen heartthrob Matthew Broderick, and the fantastically paternal James Earl Jones, and the slimy Jeremy Irons, and the sinister Whoopi Goldberg, and the giggly Cheech Marin, and the pleasant Nathan Lane.

And Hakuna Matata. Oh, Hakuna Matata.

So Disney cashing in on the nostalgia and affection countless people feel toward “The Lion King” by adapting the film into 3-D, with a focus on some key action scenes — all to charge more for movie tickets — is kind of despicable. But, it also brings “The Lion King” into theaters again, for younger children to see and enjoy. Bigger isn’t always better, as we saw from the meh quality of “Cars 2” this summer, and don’t your children deserve a better sort of film from Disney? And don’t you?

You should know the story by now: Mufasa (voiced by Jones), the lion king, has a young son, Simba (voiced by JTT), who yearns to grow up and become ruler of Pride Rock. But his position is threatened by Mufasa’s brother, Scar (voiced by Irons), who believes the kingdom should be his and plots with hyenas Shenzi (Goldberg), Banzai (Marin) and Ed (Jim Cummings) to kill Mufasa and Simba and usurp the thrown. Things don’t work out exactly according to plan, but Scar scares Simba into running away from Pride Rock. Convinced he caused his father’s death, Simba spends the rest of his childhood and teenage years in a plush oasis with meerkat Timon (Lane) and warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), who become an adopted family for him with their mantra “Hakuna Matata” — it means “no worries, for the rest of your days,” a “problem-free philosophy.”

But Simba can’t entirely escape his past, can he? Everyone gets found, and when Simba is forced to confront his past, it’s about more than just facing Scar. It’s about, as ghost Mufasa tells him from the stars, where the “great kings of the past look down on us,” remembering “who you are.” “I’m not who I used to be,” Simba protests, but that’s not enough for Mufasa. “Remember,” he urges, and that’s where I start sobbing like a child. No children’s movie is as moving as “The Lion King.” Don’t. Even. Argue.

But we all know “The Lion King” is flawless, right, so does Disney put in enough 3-D to make “The Lion King 3D” worth the price bump? Well, kind of. The wide shots of Pride Rock, with all the animals coming to recognize Simba’s birth, benefits from the technology’s added depth, and flying along with Mufasa’s Hornbill adviser Zazu (voiced by Rowan Atkinson) is a nice example of your typical in-your-face 3-D experience. Similarly richer are the scenes of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa in the lush oasis; the shots of them chomping on insects are a pleasantly gross moment.

Yet it’s the scenes that would most benefit from the 3-D that sadly lack them, like the shooting stars that lead Simba to understanding the memory of his father or the marching hyenas bowing to Scar’s “Be Prepared” declaration of betrayal. Maybe Disney couldn’t have made the whole film into 3-D because portions of the original 2-D animation wasn’t compatible or something, but it means the special effects the film promises are ultimately lacking.

The story alone, and the novelty of seeing “The Lion King” on the big screen, make “The Lion King 3D” an acceptable way to introduce your children to the glory of Disney’s Renaissance years. But its uneven special effects and absence of truly amazing 3-D scenes make the film, while enjoyable, an undeniably obvious reach into your wallet.

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