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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rath's Review: The Lion King 3D

Throughout the history of cinema, there are movies that become instant classics; films that will be remembered far after their time. Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Casa Blanca, The Godfather, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Titanic, and The Dark Knight are all examples of movies that decades from now will still be cherished by society. It is without a shadow of a doubt that I say that The Lion King is an instant classic. Not including the Pixar movies that Disney has been so successful with of late, The Lion King is their masterpiece. Sure there is Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Bambi, etc., but The Lion King was so inspired, so thought-out, that if Disney ever ends (ha, yeah right), this will be one of the top movies that they are remembered for.

Now, if you aren't up with the times, you may be shouting at your computer screen, "Jordan! Why are you reviewing an old movie?! Why arent you reviewing Abduction with Taylor Lautner that just came out this week?!"

a) The Lion King was recently re-released in Disney Digital 3D across the world to great success (it has gotten #1 in the U.S. box office two weekends in a row now).

b) Why on earth would I see Abduction? Taylor Lautner cannot act. At all. The Lion King owns Taylor Lautner.

I chuckled when I saw these, so I thought I should include them

As if lions could look any cooler
It is a funny thing; seeing a movie that you saw so long ago as a child (and was obsessed with in my case) and then watching it again as an adult. It is like an entirely new movie. All the scenes that I remember are still there, but the emotions that I experience during these scenes are often very different. I dont remember The Lion King being so moving, but between the stampede scene, "Remember Who You Are", and the final fight/claim to the throne, I was finding myself completely engrossed in this G-rated movie. I imagine that when this film originally came out 17 years ago in 1994 (my God that makes me feel old), it was a landmark film, and far ahead of its time.

Hakuna Matata!
The movie is nearly perfect. The only flaws I noticed was some cheesy dialogue, and the film was much shorter than I remember. But then I remember it is a kids film and at that age I might as well have had ADD, so anything longer than 90 minutes would bore me. I also think there is a completely unnecessary song in there: the "Be Prepared" song delivered by Scar and the hyenas is a low point in a film with fantastic music. Which brings me to my next point. I believe that along with Titanic, Gladiator, Tron Legacy, and Inception; The Lion King has one of the best soundtracks of all time. Interestingly enough, other than Titanic, all of those movies have soundtracks that are created or overseen by Hans Zimmer. The man is truly a genius. But it's not just the background music in The Lion King that is amazing, it is the songs themselves. Seriously, who doesnt remember these songs: "The Circle of Life", "I Just Cant Wait to Be King", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", and the unforgettable "Hakuna Matata". As I write this, I am downloading the soundtrack, and in the movie theater my foot was tapping on its own. They are just that good.

I also think that the movie's biggest strength, along with the originality and the music, is the characters. The names Mufasa, Simba, Scar, Timon, and Pumba are known worldwide...there are very few films that nearly the entire cast is etched into history. Mufasa, voiced perfectly by James Earl Jones (who also has the iconic character of Darth Vader under his belt), is possibly the wisest on-screen father ever created. Every line he delivers is important and demands attention.

"Remember Who You Are" cue tears...

Simba is voiced well both at a young age and as an adult, although I must admit I was kind of taken aback when I recognized Matthew Broderick's coming out of his mouth. But Simba is a character that we become attached to and we all cheer for, especially once he returns to the Pride Lands to take it back from Scar. And then of course, there is Scar. I now remember why he was my favorite villain when I was little (most likely worrying my parents that I liked the villain at such a young age). He comes across as a weak brother to Mufasa, but there are two particular instances in the film that solidify his place in the Hall of Villains.

To Mufasa as he clings on for his life,
"Long. Live. The. King!"

and whispering in Simba's ear as he dangles from Pride Rock
"I killed Muuufasssa."

Just rethinking of those lines sends chills down my spine. Jeremy Irons, the actor who voiced Scar must have practiced those two lines a hundred times, or either he did not know how iconic they would become.

"Long Live the King" touche Scar, touche
An epic, epic final fight scene
Finally, the film's production values are outstanding. The 3D is really well done, giving the film good depth and not being gimmicky with it. It's certainly not mind-blowing like Tron Legacy was in IMAX 3D, but it is a welcomed addition. The animations are most likely good for their time, keep in mind this was before Pixar, and the landscape and color pallet is perfect.

Clearly, the movie is, as I said before, an instant classic. It was ahead of its time and will be marked as Disney's masterpiece. Both children and adults alike fell in love with the movie, and based on the box office results, they are still in love with it. So really, all that is left to say is:

LONG LIVE THE LION KING


Pros:

  • Where to start? Fantastic characters, most of which are permanently etched in cinema history
  • Great animation and scenery throughout. Very colorful
  • A simple, but yet powerful story that evokes emotion from both young and old
  • The music. There is a reason that a musical was made based on the movie
  • So many memorable scenes: Rafiki's baptism, the stampede, hakuna matata, "Remember Who You Are", final fight scene, Simba roaring at the top of Pride Rock...the whole movie is memorable
Cons:

  • Some cheesy dialogue, but come on. Its a kid's film. You have to be literal
  • "Be Prepared" song with Scar and the hyenas is weak compared to the rest of the songs
  • I am scared that with the success of this re-release that Disney is going to start re-releasing all of its classics. And honestly, out of all of them, the only other one that I would pay to go see is Aladdin

Rath's Review Score: 10/10 -- Instant Classic

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