Title: The Lion King 3D
Director: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff
Starring the voices of: James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, Johnathan Taylor Thomas, Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson, Nathan Lane, Jim Cummings
Seventeen years ago, The Lion King roared into theaters and warmed hearts all over the world. It also earned Disney a nice a chunk of change. But apparently they need more.
After years of Pixar and CGI, the 3D treatment on the 1994 animation isn’t going to do much. In fact, only two or three scenes effectively make use of the gimmick of the last couple years, which will only get a response from the younger viewers. That being said, the story and the colorful cast of pure characters can still tug at the heart strings. And it will also remind people how useful a musical number or two can be in these now classic animated tales.
Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones) is the ruling lion over the great lands of Pride Rock. Zebras, elephants, giraffes and every other jungle creature one can think of, flourishes under his noble reign. The only one who seems be a grouch is Mufasa’s jaded, yet cunning, younger brother Scar (voiced in a sinister manner by Jeremy Irons). Scar becomes more distant when Mufasa’s newborn son Simba (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is touted as the future ruler of all the lands where the light shines. Hence why Scar chills in the one small spot where the light doesn’t shine, as he mulls over a plan to take control of the kingdom with his treacherous hyena pack (led & voiced by Cheech Marin).
Meanwhile, Mufasa is teaching the bold and untamed Simba to act like a king and know when to use his power. Simba is loyal to his father, but his adventurous nature allows Scar to manipulate the trusting young lion, and forces Simba to leave Pride Rock after a terrible tragedy.
While out on his own, years fly by and Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick) is all grown up and has adopted a hakuna matata (no worries) lifestyle thanks to his new best pals Timon (voiced by Nathan Lane) & the warthog Pumba (Ernie Sabella). Life is simpler now, until Simba runs into his childhood best friend in Nala (voiced by Moira Kelly). She can’t believe he is still alive and urges him to return to Pride Rock to claim the throne from Scar; who has let the place go to shambles.
First thing that becomes obvious when watching this story is how the characters aren’t manufactured like the ones we see in all the “modern” day animations. Their real personas have a certain novelty to them. Sure they’re not as entertaining, but the wear-it-on-your-sleeve delivery just keeps things simple. And simple is ideal when considering the target market is the little ones, who will undoubtedly go bananas for this. By keeping their characteristics on the surface, the emotional output is easy for all audiences to latch onto.
The one thing that is obvious is the structures of animations have changed so much since the the 90s. Lion King isn’t a flowing piece by any means, as it pretty much pastes together segments to form a brisk 89 minute play. So although the delivery is choppy, the intended theme still manages to project out properly to the viewer (if they allow it to).
Overall, The Lion King 3D was the curtain call for the classic Disney animated musical. Comparing this to the rest of the CGI animated world we now reside in is unfair; however, that will creep into your mind while watching one of the most innocent and honest animated films in our generation. Either way, all ages will still encounter a few gratifying emotions while watching this.
Acting (voice): A
Review by Joe Belcastro