Posted by: C.E. Chambers | October 1, 2011

“The Lion King 3D”: Film Review

theatrical release poster

Written by C.E. Chambers  Posted October 1, 2011

Mr. Seatmate and I think we’re quite sophisticated for rednecks and we’re not hardcore fans of 3D, so naturally we didn’t plan to watch this Disney classic.  Besides, we’d seen it numerous times since it was first released in 1994.  However, “Straw Dogs 2011” was so revolting we found ourselves gravitating the next week to something tried-and-true and G-rated.

It was like putting on a pair of shoes that’s out of style but exceedingly more comfortable and of higher quality than contemporary footwear.  Something you wish would last forever but would gladly scrimp and save to purchase again and again.

There’s only one problem if you watch “The Lion King 3D” at a theater.  You have to sit through the revolting previews for “Happy Feet 2” and “Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked.”  One has to be in just the right mood for jive, Antarctic penguins who make life miserable for a young penguin who is disarmingly innocent and naïve but, alas, “choreo-phobic” (as some critics are describing little Erik’s flaw in advertisements for the sequel to “Happy Feet.”).  Say, what?

As for “Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked,” the animals (especially Alvin) can best be described as looking as if they’re wearing invisible but heavily loaded diapers the wrong way ‘round.  And I mean loaded.

We also saw a preview of the new Muppets movie: They were singing “We Built This City On Rock And Roll.”

“The Lion King” is such a charming and well-made film that it really doesn’t need the addition of 3D.  But I rather enjoyed the novelty of an exotic bird flying over my head to land on bended knee before regal King Mufasa during the opening scenes.  (The king is memorably voiced, of course, by James Earl Jones).

Jungle foliage projects mystically into the theater and tropical rain falls all around.  Just before the film starts, a large, glistening prism expands and seems about to envelop viewers.  The 3D effect mostly occurs during the first third or so of the movie although there are one or two surprises later.

The leering expressions on the faces of the mean hyenas that are larger than life in one scene aren’t graphic enough to frighten small children.  This is an area of concern that could become very controversial if makers of 3D films incorporate disturbing images into G-rated movies.

I just had a disturbing thought: Will “Straw Dogs 2011” be converted into 3D one day?  If you can see rain falling on you but you can’t touch it…if birds fly so close they can almost nest in your hair….It’s too horrible to contemplate.

As I melted into my seat while enjoying “The Lion King 3D,” I was caught short by the realization that the vocabulary is probably much higher than what’s available in most films geared for young children today.  When’s the last time expressions like “quid pro quo” and “At your service, my liege” rolled believably off of animated characters’ lips?  Instead of a preachy propaganda-laden cliché, wise advice like “You can run from your past or you can learn from it” is offered.

As almost everyone knows, Simba is the male offspring to the wise King Mufasa, the undisputed champion and overseer of the lion kingdom and all those who reside within its orders.  Simba’s jealous and very crafty uncle, Scar, creates a scenario that causes the impressionable young lion to voluntarily leave the safe haven of his father’s kingdom which enables the slinky Scar to take over King Mufasa’s throne.

Since almost everyone is already acquainted with this timeless film (including children wearing loaded diapers the right way ‘round), I won’t elaborate on any of the other characters except for Pumbaa, the silly but loyal warthog who mostly plays straight man to Zazu, the very funny meerkat (a type of mongoose).  Zazu keeps up a running commentary on almost everything.  He’s like a stand-up comedian who doesn’t need to use one-sided political humor to guarantee he’ll have an audience.

The addition of an Elton John song during the end credits makes this film a class act from beginning to end.

Hakuna Matata, everyone (Swahili for “no worries”).  In Hawaiian, it’s A’ole pilikia: “No problem.”  I’m really glad I took the time to see this film again and I feel privileged to have been able to write about it.

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