With its cinematic opening sequence, powerful emotional aspects, and memorable songs, The Lion King is one of Disney’s greatest animated features. Released at the height of Disney’s animation Renaissance, the film was in good company with The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty & the Beast (1991), and Aladdin (1992) coming before it; films that raised the bar on animated features and made them no longer just for kids.
In making the films for a broader audience, the themes incorporated into these movies became more adult in nature. Death, grief, and guilt were no longer concepts saved for live-action movies geared strictly for adult audiences, animated characters were now venturing into these dark pathways of psychological turmoil. In doing so, the films deliver a depth and realism to their stories even while animals talk, magic spells are given, and songs break out spontaneously.
The Lion King delivers on all these aspects. It creates a very dark tragedy about death, grief, and guilt, while juxtaposing those themes against an animated universe. The results are breathtaking and quite remarkable, a skill that Pixar would adopt and bring to films like Up and Toy Story 3.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the emotion of the film, and if you’ve never seen it I highly recommend it. The Lion King is one of Disney’s finest animated achievements, and a testament to the power of great storytelling and dimensional characters. So how does it look in 3D?
For me, the addition of 3D made a few sequences pop, but it really didn’t alter my perception or overall enjoyment of the movie itself. It’s a film that doesn’t need additional gimmickry or distraction in order to get an audience’s attention; it was a strong film in 1994, and it still has an impact 17 years later.
Seeing it in theaters for the first time had a much greater impact than seeing it in 3D. I first saw the movie on VHS – when Disney movies came in those big white, plastic cases – and thought it was great. Then I got the DVD and was blown away. But seeing it on the big screen, with surround sound and an audience made it an even stronger experience.
Thankfully, the 3D version is taken from the original theatrical release and not the special edition that features the irritating song “Morning Report.” This is the classic version of the film in all its glory. And it’s definitely one of the best.
I highly, highly recommend The Lion King in 3D. It’s nice to see a classic Disney movie back in theaters and even better to see it still resonates with audiences as much as it did upon its original release.
The Lion King 3D roars into theaters on September 16, 2011!
What’s your favorite animated Disney movie? Leave a comment and let us know!