The Lion King is really the jewel in Disney's cap. Though, in recent years, Pixar has overshadowed its parent company's animation division; Disney always lay claim to being the home of animation, to providing us with some of the greatest, most emotional, most popular and most widely beloved animated films of all time and, arguably, the greatest of the great is The Lion King.
The sweeping saga of Simba and his ascension to the throne and control over the pride lands encapsulates everything that is fantastic about Disney: brilliant characters, a great story, wonderful songs and real, genuine, nostalgic emotion, for a time in cinema where everything seemed that bit more magical. The Lion King was a substantial critical hit in 1994, which smashed records commercially - it still holds the place of highest-grossing traditionally animated feature film -, given that and the success of the straight to video sequels, it's no surprise that this 3D re-release has been smashing records and propelling it further up the totem pole, currently meaning it's worked its way up to the third highest grossing animated film of all time, behind only Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2. After a strong, box-office smashing, run in the US, The Lion King 3D is now open over here in the UK and if today was anything to go by, it's going to have a strong run here too, as the screen was packed.
The world is clearly happy to see one of Disney's most beloved classics back on the big screen in eye popping 3D, I, personally, was full of emotions and ecstatic during the entire film and I literally got goosebumps during The Cirlce of Life. Furthermore, there was a decidedly sizeable amount of singing along to all of the beloved songs throughout the film, rapturous laughter and emotional tears; showing, that this truly is one of the greatest animated films of all time!
Obviously, as The Lion King first hit cinemas 17 years ago in 1994, there won't be that many people who this is a new experience to, and a large thrill of it being back out in 3D is the chance to see the fantastic film back on the big screen again - although it will still be a huge attraction to the little kiddies who may not have seen the film before. As such, this review isn't going to focus very much on the content of the film, as you'll have read plenty of reviews for The Lion King time and time again, it will focus more largely on the 3D conversion of the film, how it compares and whether it is worth your money.
Firstly, in terms of the actual film, if you haven't seen The Lion King at all by now, you definitely should have and you definitely should go and see it now while you can still experience it on the big screen. The film really is an epic saga, spanning the lifetime of Simba, the heir to the pride lands, there is a momentous feel throughout - more so given that this is a film that many of us have grown up watching. The story is, literally, brilliant, a fantastical journey in which we are introduced to so many characters, brilliantly defined with all the nuances written intricately and brilliantly. The Lion King is essentially Shakespeare's Hamlet set in the jungle, and any time a "children's film" can be compared to a work of the immortal bard whilst not being too confusing or complicated, you know you have a winner; and The Lion King is a winner in every possible sense of the word.
All of the characters in The Lion King, from the heroic Simba, to the wise Mufasa, to the villainous Scar and the comical Timon and Pumbaa are brilliant. The straight to video sequels were hardly on the same level in terms of story, nor of characters, but the characters established here in the first film that carry over are amongst some of the most beloved ones in all of Disney lore. The basis upon which these are built is the sheer brilliance of them, the complexity of their personalities, characteristics and relationships.
The brilliant, quintessentially Disney hand drawn animation is timeless and magical, as Disney's films tend to be, combined with the brilliant story and characters, as well as the brilliant, catchy and memorable music, truly make this one of the greatest films of our generation - animated or otherwise - and one that you should definitely see.
However, things are bound to seem marginally different in 3D, they always do, and what Disney had to be careful of was to not ruin a brilliant film with shoddy, cheap 3D. However, Disney have always delivered effective and high quality 3D in their films (although, if anything, it seemed a tad redundant and underused in Pixar's Cars 2) and it was used to great effect here in The Lion King. The 3D was fairly obvious in places, like during The Circle of Life, where the camera followed Zazu in typical 3D fashion; things popped and protruded, although subtle, enhancing 3D was also used to great, emotional effect (specifically in later scenes). However, the 3D was never overly obtuse or in your face, it merely balanced the film, compensated the extra money and complimented an already fantastic film.
It neither added nor subtracted to the quality of the film, it didn't ruin the film, it didn't make the film seem better, but, then again the attraction of The Lion King 3D isn't the 3D bit, it's The Lion King - the spectacle, the majesty, back on the big screen where it belongs.
The Lion King 3D not only left me super optimistic for Disney's upcoming 3D re-release schedule, but left me nostalgic, happy and ecstatic and seeing one of the greatest films of my time, back in the cinema again.
Long live The Lion King, I give it a firm 10/10.