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The Lion King 3D (2011) | Review

There are few occasions in life when the phrase ‘feel like a child again’ really applies, but thankfully, it looks like we’ll have those opportunities much more over the next few years as Disney plans to re-release some of their seminal classics, married with the latest 3D technology.

Now, how does one go about reviewing a re-release? It would be easy if I was sure that many of the readers were unfamiliar with Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ but I somewhat doubt it. Even in the screening I attended, there were very few children, it was an audience of young adults who seemed intent on reliving one of the greatest films of their childhood – well actually that’s just a guess, but that’s what I was doing there. Needless to say, The Lion King didn’t disappoint, and why should it? It was the same amazing film it was back in 1994. The songs, the jokes and the beautiful animation still strike a chord, and the story is just as powerful as it has ever been.

So, what of the 3D? The technology still polarises audiences, and I am one of the number who has yet to be wowed by what it can do. That may have something to do with the fact my first taste of 3D wasn’t one of the films in the 3D vanguard (such as Avatar), but instead, Toy Story 3. A film in which the technology seems to have been hastily retrofitted to an already completed film to squeeze more money from the cinemagoer, namely me.

Acutely aware of the fact that The Lion King is aeons older than Toy Story 3, I was ready to be disappointed, but I cared little, simply because I was caught up in the thrill of seeing a childhood classic.

However, the opening of the film, set to the now infamous The Circle of Life were actually quite astonishing. It appears as though great care has been taken in the adaptation of the film to 3D, and it certainly helps that the huge panorama of the African Savanna is particularly suited to the technology, allowing an immense sense of depth and scale. The thrill was short-lived however, as the story focuses more around the characters and the huge wide establishing shots are used less extensively, once bought closer to the action, the need for 3D fades and without the benefit of unique 3D-conceived shots, there’s very little to see.

Nevertheless, you can enjoy the film for what it is, and every now and then, the 3D really does come in to play. However, Disney already claim the success of the film is due to the 3D, which is rather shortsighted on their part. I think they’re all well-aware that the statement is rubbish, but needed as some sort of justification for the re-releases. I don’t judge them for obvious cash-milking as it will allow me to see some of my favourite Disney movies on the big screen, and if they put the level of care in to the technology as with The Lion King, then I’ll be happy to attend.

  • http://www.maxblaber.co.uk Max

    I’m still not sure that I agree with re-releasing great films “re-mastered” in any sense, but I suppose George Lucas has been doing it for years and he seems to do OK by it. A film definitely needs to be shot for 3D if it’s going to be effective and look good through the goggles; conversions end up doing nothing but giving a slight depth perception that is more likely to make the viewer feel queasy than wow them. Having said that, it often goes too far the other way with films rolling out often unnecessary set sequences to make audiences flinch as debris flies towards them or flocks of birds soar over them.

    I think if Disney want a nostalgic run of films from their archive in the cinemas then great, I’ll go watch them; but I don’t want to hear that addition of 3D will increase my enjoyability of them.

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