Sunday, 2 October 2011

Review: The Lion King 3D

Rating: U
Duration: 89 mins

Since its release almost two decades ago, Disney's renaissance period of the 90's is perhaps typified by the release of The Lion King. Whether you've seen it or not, the characters and the songs are universally recognisable. From Simba to Mufasa, The Circle of Life to the infectiously likable Hakuna Matata, it's hard to deny this is one of the studio's greatest achievements to date. Such quality is accentuated by its global success and remains the highest grossing, hand-drawn animated feature in history with almost $800m in box office takings.

In a classic story structure inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, as well as the age-old biblical poem, Epic of Sundiata, Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), is forced by evil Uncle, Scar (Jeremy Irons), to flee after the death of his father, and King to the pride lands, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). It excels with it's simple, yet hugely engaging narrative and storytelling devices. An all-star cast is standard for Disney, and this is no exception, with lead voices from Matthew Broderick, Rowan Atkinson, Nathan Lane and Whoopi Goldberg.

Aside from the superb soundtrack and score courtesy of legendary duo Elton John and Tim Rice, every other department delivers, thus making Disney's 32nd film a truly timeless classic. Whether it's the perfectly choreographed introductory sequence to Pride Rock, or the tension of the elephant graveyard chase or even a touching long-lost flirtatious reunion; The Lion King uses its 89 minutes to pack in essential content, rather than surmountable filler.

The notable adaptation is a remastering of the original theatrical cut, only this time with the addition of 3D (gasp). As per the saturation of the format, scepticism naturally surrounds the suffixed title. However, what makes this release an improvement upon the original is the meticulous way in which the third dimension is incorporated; the painstaking efforts to assure such a conversion stands out from other such titles is its dedication to use it to its true potential. Not since Avatar has the format been used so effectively, with an open invitation to immerse audiences into the story even more so than the first time around.

A classic in every sense of the word with no apparent flaws that stand out, not even the 3D element can hinder the wonderful experience on offer, which is a huge bonus considering the sloppy use of the format elsewhere. Iconic in its nature, Disney have updated one of their best titles, as The Lion King becomes accessible to a new generation of cinema goers, yet to those familiar with the movie it feels just as special as it did almost twenty years ago.