The Lion King (3D)

The Lion King PosterRating: ★★★★★

With the immediate exception of the prodigious “Toy Story”, my repeated viewings of “The Lion King” were one of the great highlights of my childhood. I preserved my VHS copy with fervent dedication, which I viewed at least a dozen times during the course of my grade school days. I was an introvert youngster with an immense collection of Disney movies. Claiming the title of “Couch Potato” at age five, I cannot deny that I was a spoiled little brat. And yet now I declare that I was not spoiled enough, knowing that I was never taken to see “The Lion King” during its initial theatrical run. Where were my parents when I needed them?

But no worries. Because just this week, at twenty years of age, I have redeemed myself, which makes this re-lease of “The Lion King” a necessary one. That the movie debuted at #1 in the United States last September is no surprise to me at all. And if the movie had to be converted to unnecessary 3-D to make the re-release possible, then so be it. Such an opportunity doesn’t come very often, and only those with closed minds and ungrateful spirits will respond to it with whining and complains.

Overwhelmed with childish excitement, with a crowd of less than twenty people, I watched “The Lion King”. My cheers and laughter were loud and unashamed. The joy remained and the freshness unchanged. And because I have a better understanding of the movies now than I did when I was five years old, I appreciated the movie in ways that my younger self couldn’t comprehend then, or care for. I appreciated the animators that meticulously drew over a million images that comprised all 87 minutes of this movie. I appreciated Disney’s CG department that spent over three years constructing the computer program that made the stampede sequence look as stunning as it is. I appreciated a particular work of Shakespeare that more or less provided the foundation of the story. This is one substantial reason why I believe it’s healthy to rewatch specific movies after long intervals of time.

Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa, and Sarabi

“The Lion King” follows a lot of the traditions of Disney animated movies, but it does so with a bigger heart and a broader imagination. One of such traditions was best elaborated by Roger Ebert in his special appearance by then hit TV show, “Early Edition”. He tactfully enlightens the truth that, in animated movies, the parent(s) of the young animal will be required to suffer a G-Rated death, for the purpose of establishing the hero’s independence. Numerous movies have used this incident, but it is the demise of Mufasa than can be considered the most memorable and heartbreaking Disney Parent Death since Bambi’s mother got shot.

Another Disney tradition that reached a peak in “The Lion King” is the obligatory inclusion of two goofy, funny characters that exist 1.) to comfort the hero with humor and 2.) to guide him with some useful advice. It was Flounder and Sebastian who stood by Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”. Lumiere and Cogsworth were the ones who kept Belle’s spirit up in “Beauty and the Beast”. And it was Genie and Abu who remained loyal to Aladdin in, well, “Aladdin”. These fellas are all wonderful, but I believe that the most beloved pair in this category is the delightful duo of Timon and Pumbaa. These guys have enough charm and wit to raise a lion.

Timon and Pumbaa

I cannot end my review without pouring my praise to the movie’s excellent music. The multitude of songs, which continue to harvest millions and millions of listeners on YouTube, can be separately described as catchy, funny, romantic, enchanting, and epic. Songs like “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata” are among the most celebrated. Anyone who is about my age and can’t sing along to these songs has some serious catching up to do in life.

Also, the movie’s brilliant, mesmerizing, Oscar-winning score was composed by the invaluable Hans Zimmer. Hans Zimmer. A great thing about Hans Zimmer is that people never ask questions regarding scores that are composed by him. When I tell a friend to listen to a piece of music by Mr. Zimmer, they usually just nod their head and obey. Anyone who claims to love movie scores but isn’t familiar with the work of Hans Zimmer is either 1.) just getting started or 2.) lying.

17 years have passed since the initial release of “The Lion King”, and yet it remains to be one of the greatest animated movies of the past half century. I don’t even know why I’m writing this review, but here you go. I guess my recent viewing of it reminded me of that time in my life where I first began to fall in love with the movies. I was born in 1991, and when The Lion King was released three years later, I was its target audience. And now, at 2011, I realize that I still am.

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The Lion King (3D)