Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Lion King 3D: Was it worth it?

Many people have criticized studios for re-releasing their films in 3D, usually because the 3D is never properly done therefore making it unnecessary, and it just seems like another moneymaking scam. Unless I know a film has been specifically made for 3D like Avatar, or in future months Tintin (I think it's made for 3D anyway), I will not be paying to watch it in 3D because when I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the 3D was nothing special; a waste of money (it's double the price) and the effect is barely noticeable.

But Disney's re-release of The Lion King is not a gimic. It doesn't have the best 3D effects but that is to be expected because it is an animation that is over a decade old and if I am thinking correctly, I don't think as much could have been done to enhance it with 3D effects. However what they have done is really beautiful and marvelously done, because you actually felt like you were in the savannah, you felt like you were in Africa. Whether it was the animals assembling at Pride Rock coming out of the screen, or the eerie storms with rain so enhanced you could almost touch it, or more impressively, feeling like we were Simba running for our lives from the stampeding wildebeest- were just a few of the treasures to behold in this remastering of the film.

It looks as glorious as ever and the first scene with that man singing along to that bright yellow sunset against a firey red sky, or the scenes where the African plains are under a curtain of terrential rain, create a most fantastic and exotic atmosphere.

As far as characters go, watching the film as an adult made me laugh even more, because I think as we all find with children's films, we only really get the jokes when we're older, and they are always hilarious in Disney's case. Zazu voiced by Rowan Atkinson is just this stuffy British lovable feathery thing, whilst Rafiki the wise baboon provides much humour when he teases Simba and hits him with his stick. Jeremy Irons is the perfect villain with his matured-wine voice, and devilish wit, along with the hyenas who are just as funny. Just when you think there are enough laughs in the film, along come Timon and Pumbaa charging onto the screen with more jokes and great lines than any other character duo in Disney.

Probably the greatest element of The Lion King is it's soundtrack. Elton John did such an incredible job on the songs like Circle of Life, Hakuna Mattata and Can You Feel The Love Tonight, that even some of the audience couldn't stop themselves from singing along (charming for a couples of seconds, but annoying when they sing for the rest of the song). But the songs are timeless classics and still today have that big, celebratory, joyous, and romantic mix that makes it one of the most popular soundtracks to date. Hans Zimmer's score is as haunting as ever, particularly the scene of the rain on the plains with the track 'This Land'. The score sounds like the land is singing- like Africa herself is singing her heart and soul out to the highest heavens. The score definitely gives the film it's emotional edge, no one can forget the music accompaniments, particularly in the Mufasa death scene, which I think will make everyone cry til their dying day. Watching this infamous scene as an adult was quite extraordinary. It hit me just how traumatic the scene was, for anyone, and for a child to watch this scene would be, for them, watching their worst nightmare. But Disney handled the scene with great tenderness and beauty, much like their predecessors did with Bambi.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is where Simba sees his father in his reflection and is then visited by his father's ghost from on high in a mass on clouds and beaming light. Even though kids might be too young to understand the message in this scene, I think as an adult it is hugely meaningful in saying how you cannot run away from your past, and that in doing so you are actually betraying yourself. You have to face it and not run away. What also made me cry was how Simba could his father in himself, 'He lives in you' as Rafiki says. Another point I recognised whilst watching this was that Mufasa's character is such a rich one, he is the epitome of the father figure and a great moral figure too. The wise advice he gives his son is something that children will listen to, because we can all relate to Simba when he disappoints his father and learns a lesson, giving the film an important educational message that youngsters will understand.

I don't think that anyone of my generation, and indeed any other generation, that has watched and loved this animation throughout their childhood; who can recite it word for word, act it out action for action- can not have tears in their eyes or have some heartwarming childhood memory called to mind when watching this. I can honestly say that watching it, I still felt like the twenty year old girl I am, but I also felt like I was watching it with my toddler self. It was just as magical as it ever was.

The Lion King is one of the most entertaining, eye-catching, tearjerking films to have ever been made, and with the addition of 3D effects, to watch this beloved classic again with a new technology was a wonderful, and moving experience that I won't forget. Thank you Disney for giving me a chance to see it on the big screen in magnificent 3D.


  1. The Lion King was Disney's last megahit. Aside from the Pixar movies, Lilo and Stitch and Tangled are the only films that saw a big profit. So the choice of this film is not a surprise.
    I remember when I was a kid in the 80's, Disney re-released The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmations and Cindrella - the studio's highest grossing films at the time. Films that were considered "bombs" - Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, The Sword in The Stone, Lady and the Tramp - became meaghits when they were the first released on home video. So this business of re-releasing films in new formats to make more profit is nothing new.

  2. I'm not saying it is new thing to re-release films. I am discussing how studios are re-releasing films with the NEW 3D technology that has worked and become popular since Avatar's record-breaking success. 3D has been out for years, but I am referring to the latest 3D technology.

  3. True. I was just noting why and the background behind their choice of Lion King.