Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba

Posted by · 1:56 pm · August 27th, 2011

Disney held it’s big premiere for “The Lion King 3D” today at The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, fit with live African bongo music, a green carpet (made of fake grass) and a “Hakuna Matata” dress code. Not a bad way to spend an early Saturday afternoon, and I’ve been looking forward to this for a little while now, I must say.

First thing’s first: the 3D. It’s actually quite wonderful. I was struck by how much the conversion had to work with, as there is a lot of depth built into the film as is. Whether it’s the foreground/background of the ants and zebras in the prologue, the use of Red-billed Hornbill Zazu in flight or just the opportunity to lend striking separation in sequences like the pulp Nazi-inspired “Be Prepared” number, there was just a lot of opportunity to make the 3D effective. That’s always helpful.

The movie, for me, is a perfect one, and my favorite animated film ever. I’ve always been taken by it’s story, taking cues from Shakespeare and painting one of the studio’s most indelible, thematically potent gems. I haven’t seen it in a theater since the summer of 1994, and I was choking up five minutes in.

All cynicism (much of it warranted) about 3D aside, I’d encourage everyone to give this a look when it hits screens September 16. I may even give it another look. How can you argue with something this lean and pristine? The technology is not a speed bump here. It’s well-executed and brings the film to life in a different way.

And it’s a wonderful theatrical experience to re-visit, regardless. The crowd today erupted at all the right moments, but I have to say that burst of applause when the sun peaked over the Serengeti at the start of the film is one of my new favorite moments in a theater. Total goosebumps.

The film is also set for a Blu-ray two weeks following the theatrical release on October 4. I hope there is similar hoopla for “Aladdin” soon enough. Next year marks 20 years on for that one. Sounds like a good excuse to me.

[Photo: Walt Disney Pictures]

→ 31 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily · Reviews

31 responses so far

  • 1 8-27-2011 at 2:50 pm

    Al said...

    Will Lion King 3D also be available in 2D? I’d love to see it in theaters again.

  • 2 8-27-2011 at 2:56 pm

    Kevin Ketchum said...

    Great write up. I was really worried about this one. I had heard Disney spent millions to convert the film, but I’m relieved to hear it was a success. Like you, this is probably my all time favorite animated film, only Beauty & The Beast comes close. Can’t wait to see this new presentation next month, as well as the blu-ray. If it’s up to the standard of Disney’s other Diamond Edition blu-rays, it will look incredible.

  • 3 8-27-2011 at 3:19 pm

    Andrew M said...

    Love this movie, but I’ve never seen it in theaters so I can’t wait to check it out.

    Al- I think they are only playing it in 3D theaters for 2 weeks.

  • 4 8-27-2011 at 3:25 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Lion King is also one of my favorite animated films of all-time. Not only did I love it in 1994 when I was 14, but I had to watch it hundreds of times with my little brother & sister a few years later (as babies/kids). I could probably recite all the dialogue before it occurs while watching it. Love it. I just may check it out in 3D. Good write-up.

  • 5 8-27-2011 at 5:21 pm

    N8 said...

    I literally stared at that heading for nearly 60 seconds trying to understand it before glancing at the picture and finally getting it. Doi!

  • 6 8-27-2011 at 6:28 pm

    Chris138 said...

    One of my favorite movies of the 1990s. I was very young when I saw this in the theaters but I do remember it quite fondly.

  • 7 8-27-2011 at 6:30 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    In Europe the blu-ray is released in September cause we’re not getting the theatrical rerelease here… Damn! Not complaining but this would actually for once be a 3D experience I would look forward to.

  • 8 8-27-2011 at 7:14 pm

    SC said...

    One of my all-time favourite films, and Disney’s best; I still remember seeing it in theatres in 1994 when I was seven.

    Comparing Disney and Pixar’s styles, Pixar tends to do very small, personal stories that tend to lack prominent villains; Disney specializes in very archtypal stories that tap into primal clashes of good and evil, and that’s never been more successful than it was here. Quite apart from all the brilliant songs, “The King of Pride Rock” is one of the best pieces of instrumental score ever.

  • 9 8-28-2011 at 4:12 am

    Mark said...

    Not a patch on Pinocchio.

  • 10 8-28-2011 at 4:30 am

    Edward L. said...

    I’m afraid I’m a bit down on The Lion King. It’s one of the most problematic films I know. It’s totally seductive (the animation, Hans Zimmer’s lovely score, the zest, the humour, the songs etc.) but I just can’t accept its message that everyone has their place in nature and that there’s nothing anyone can do about it. People at the time of its first release complained that the film’s portrayal of the hyenas was derogatory; I laughed back then, but now I feel that it’s part and parcel of the film’s extremely conservative messages about power, the divine right of kings and the need to stamp out dissent.

    Sorry to be a misery! I know the film is very popular; I too always find it very easy to watch, and I take great pleasure in its craft. But this film really bugs me…!

  • 11 8-28-2011 at 6:11 am

    red_wine said...

    I’ve seen it in 3D too. Its good.
    The music is superb but I don’t think the film has held up very well. Its a good film and all but I can’t buy it as a classic. I think Beauty and the Beast has held up better and I think all the recent Disney Pixar classics easily top it.

  • 12 8-28-2011 at 8:52 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    Definitely one of the all time animated greats and of course the music by way of Hans Zimmer and Elton John made for a masterpiece soundtrack.

  • 13 8-28-2011 at 9:01 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Edward: Where you see a conservative message I actually see hues of liberalism. The hyenas destroy the pride land by sapping it of its resources, whereas Mufasa and his ilk respect the majesty of nature.

  • 14 8-28-2011 at 11:48 am

    Mr. F said...

    I never saw it in theaters because I was four when it came out, but it’s always been one of my favorites. So I’m excited to have a chance to see it in theaters.

  • 15 8-28-2011 at 12:03 pm

    tintin said...

    One of my favorites too.

    Beauty and the Beast
    Lion King
    Toy Story 3

  • 16 8-28-2011 at 12:11 pm

    Al said...

    Its an ugly stretch to associate politics with this film.

  • 17 8-28-2011 at 1:06 pm

    Edward L. said...

    Kris: Yes…but why do the hyenas behave the way they do in the first place? My reading is that they’re disposed to rail against the ‘everyone has their place’ assumptions of the society in which they live.

    …assumptions which, by the way, I feel may very well be true of the actual natural world (I couldn’t begin to argue with that), but when animals are animated and given voices and human motivations, I think it takes things towards potentially dangerous ideology.

    Al: I think it’s essential to read as a political act any film that is so successfully marketed to children – not a political act directly, perhaps, but certainly (in my view) an act of commerce that has socio-political ramifications.

  • 18 8-28-2011 at 1:38 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I think you’re describing a liberal stance rather than a conservative one. The hyenas behave that way because they don’t have the same reverence for the environment (essentially) as the other characters. And they are pitted as villains. The ideology skews left.

    And yet, the interesting spin is that they are also acting that way because they are one of nature’s brutal truths, to speak to your follow-up point there. That, I think is one of the scripts subtle, near nihilistic strokes.

    Al: I don’t think it’s an unwarranted conversation to have. It’s a living piece of art that can be deciphered any number of ways. I don’t think it is expressly ideological, but I respect that Edward can read that into it if he likes.

  • 19 8-28-2011 at 2:34 pm

    Edward L. said...

    Kris: Thanks. I see what you mean – I recognise the liberalism in pitting the hyenas as the villains because they don’t respect nature, and the other animals’ rights in it. For me, where the conservatism comes in is in the film’s characterisation of villainy per se. I think I just have a problem with any creature in this film being characterised as a villain when the ‘heroes’ are so secure in their place at the top. I’d probably have an easier time with the film if Scar was the protagonist, and conflicted in his loyalties to state, family and his minority buddies!!

    Thanks for an interesting exchange of views. And I have to say, if someone asks me along to The Lion King in 3D, I probably won’t say no. I imagine it’s quite a spectacle…and I’m intrigued to see how they’ve converted it.

  • 20 8-28-2011 at 2:37 pm

    Stefan said...

    But then we also have Timon and Pumbaa. Essentially outcasts with their own philosophy (in their case, Hakuna Matata or “no worries”) like the hyenas. However, at the end of the film, they are allowed to live in Pride Rock with the lions. So, while Simba does take his rightful place as king, I don’t think he sheds the Hakuna Matata philosophy that has been put into his head since he was a young cub and the only two guys willing to helm him post-exile.

  • 21 8-28-2011 at 3:12 pm

    Brett Buckalew said...


    You’ve made some really good, thoughtful points here, but I feel like the climax really lays bare the film’s liberal leanings.


    When the Anglicized Scar is cornered by Pride Rock’s citizens in the climax, he quickly lays the blame for his misdeeds entirely on his minority buddies, the hyenas. The depiction of ethnic scapegoating is a nice, biting touch that I totally forgot about before seeing the movie again in 3D at the D23 Expo.

    And when the hyenas get their revenge by being the ones to finally kill Scar, those three characters go from being “half hateful villains, half endearing/funny” to being totally badass IMO.


    Kris is dead-on about the 3D conversion, especially regarding the layered compositions being seemingly tailor-made for 3D.


  • 22 8-28-2011 at 3:41 pm

    Edward L. said...

    Stefan: An interesting point. Although, of course, Timon and Pumbaa are never really portrayed as anything other than entirely loveable and non-threatening. Who could object to them living at Pride Rock?! :-)

    Brett: A good point too. When I see the film again I’ll bear this in mind, and see if the climax is enough to outweigh the earlier problematic (IMO) portrayals. I’ll look forward to seeing it in 3D.

    Thanks; Edward

  • 23 8-28-2011 at 5:27 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    You definitely are reading something into it that I’m not seeing, Edward. If anything, I think it ought to be expected that an animated film would boil “good” and “evil” down so far. But it’s an appreciated take, nevertheless.

  • 24 8-28-2011 at 5:30 pm

    Smokey said...

    It seems by this blog that Kris cries at many movies.

  • 25 8-28-2011 at 6:09 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Eh, crying at movies ain’t necessarily a bad thing. :)

  • 26 8-28-2011 at 7:16 pm

    Smokey said...

    Not at all. I got weepy during TREE OF LIFE and many others.

  • 27 8-28-2011 at 8:01 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Not many movies. I just make sure I mention it when I do, because it’s worth conveying. Maybe I over-share. ;)

  • 28 8-28-2011 at 8:38 pm

    Glenn said...

    Am seeing this later in the week and cannot wait for it!

    Also: Can it be eligible for the Best Animated Feature Oscar? Surely it deserves a retroactive award and is better than all the other animated fare I’ve seen this year (as good as Rango and Rio are…)

  • 29 8-29-2011 at 1:15 am

    Moviehobbyist said...

    I saw the trailer in 3D and wasn’t all that impressed with it. I’m not sure if I’ll be interested in seeing the final product in cinemas, if it even gets released here.

  • 30 8-29-2011 at 6:10 am

    Stefan said...

    Glenn: Probably not. On the other hand, the Academy did nominate The Gold Rush after Chaplin added narration, music and sound effects (still don’t understand how a re-release was eligible in the first place). But I imagine they’ve changed the rules since then.

  • 31 9-04-2011 at 4:31 am

    Glenn said...

    Oh, I know it won’t be eligible, I was trying to make a somewhat funny observation.