I am not entirely sure if this is out anywhere other than the States at the moment, but I was so grateful to get a free evening to go watch it. I have always loved “The Lion King”, especially since I saw it originally in theaters when I was little (I would have been seven-ish). A lot of my friends raved about the movie now, and it has certainly made quite a bit of money in the US. It was actually the #1 movie for two weeks in a row, beating out a Brad Pitt vehicle (“Moneyball”) for its second week in theaters.
The movie holds up, and even though I’m 17 years older, “Lion King” still makes me cry when Mufasa dies, and makes us cheer when Simba returns home to fight. This is the mark of a good film. If you can rerelease almost twenty years later and claim the top spot two weeks in a row, you know you’ve done something right.
Here is where a lot of people were a bit scared: 3D. When “Avatar” came out, 3D was a marvel and transported us to a new world. Even though the movie’s story didn’t hold up to multiple viewings, you could still appreciate the beauty of Pandora through your 3D glasses. Then came the round of crappy post-production 3D conversions: “Clash of the Titans”, “Green Hornet”, “Green Lantern”, “Step Up 3”, and others. 3D was seen as a way to drive up ticket prices, thus the studios earned more money. Of course, the 3D overload alienated a lot of people. Very few movies use it correctly (“Transformers 3” and “Tron Legacy” being a rare couple that did), and most have no payoff.
Disney has been known to make crappy sequels and I was worried that the 3D conversion process would sort of ruin “Lion King”. It actually enhanced it. Keep in mind that good 3D doesn’t mean that things should be popping out of you all of the time. Sure, a little bit should for fun, but the main purpose of the extra dimension is to add depth. It was pretty amazing to watch this previously flat animated movie come fully to life with the 3D conversion. Suddenly, the African plains were more detailed and more real. It was amazing.
Was the “Lion King 3D” worth the conversion? Definitely. Should Disney do this with all of their movies? No. I would love to see some of the late ’80s & ’90s Disney movies rereleased and there are a few that would work with a conversion. “Aladdin”, “Beauty & the Beast”, & “Little Mermaid” would get a little something extra out of it. I loved “Lion King” all over again and it provided something fun and new to see to a classic. The only problem is that studios might make this a trend.
But “Lion King” itself was beautiful, funny, and charming all over again. There is definitely a reason that it was the top movie 17 years after its initial release.