This is probably the toughest movie review I have to do. Simply because there’s no way you can judge Lion King without being substantially biased. After all, out of all the movies I’ve reviewed so far, this is probably the one that has been around with me the most.
Back when it was first released in 1994, I remember obsessing over Timon, Pumba and Simba. Five year old me had those drinking cups with figurines on top from which you nuzzled water or juice. I remember also buying a $20 book filled with pictures from the movie, retelling the story. That book passed away soon after due to my overwhelming interest in the pictures and some accidental water damage.
I also remember being amazed by the scene when Mufasa appears to Simba towards the end of the movie to remind him who he truly is. And five year old death-ignoring me had no idea what that meant. So my parents’ explanation was: his father was alive all this time, taking care of him without Simba knowing.
Yes, there’s a lot of history in all our lives that revolves around The Lion King. If there’s one Disney movie that touched generations, it’s this one. Hakuna matata, anyone?
So it was with childish glee that I went to the movie theatre with my friends Elia and Paul to watch the 3D re-release of this movie. In my head, any 3D re-release is a shameless way to make money out of an already lucrative movie. And naturally, being the sucker that I am for such sentimentalies, I couldn’t resist. After all, who could resist watching The Lion King – or any Disney movie from your childhood for that matter – in full surround sound, on the big screen, in a movie theatre, which is something most of us didn’t get the opportunity to do, becoming stuck with worn out video cassettes that got played over and over again?
The moment the opening music starts – that deafening shriek that should be trademarked – you know you’re in for a ride. I will skip the usual plot framework that I do in my reviews because I believe whoever ends up reading this has watched the movie at least forty five times in their lives, six of which are in the recent five years. Therefore, no need for me to reiterate the obvious.
And the ride continues. You listen to songs like “Circle of Life” and you can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, apparently Disney still has that effect on me. (I’m pretty sure it has that effect on you too. Admit it. Now.) As the movie proceeds, the 3D in it appears seamless. It doesn’t jump out at you like in movies where 3D was a last minute post-production decision to bring in more money.
The surround sound experience of The Lion King was a revelation of how absolutely kick ass the music in it is. Yes, I used that terminology. And you would too if you got goosebumps every time that somber music plays. We’ve all grown to appreciate the music in The Lion King. But it wasn’t as obvious – at least to me – as it was when I watched it with a full blown sound system.
And let me tell you, The Lion King is a very witty movie. I never knew there were so much jokes in it, most of which are uncannily smart. It could be that all my previous screenings of the movie were via my French-dubbed version, but this was another revelation for me.
Do I recommend you going to watch the movie about the coming of age of the innocent cub as he transforms into a lion? Absolutely. Why? Because out of all the other options of movies at your local theatre, this is the only movie from which you are guaranteed to come out with a grin. Out of all those movies, this is the only one where a twenty five year old guy sitting next to you would be singing along to Hakuna matata. And yes, you would be too. And out of all those movies, this is only one that will touch you the same way it did when you first watched it seventeen years ago.
The Lion King is a timeless movie that transcends generations. It is a tale about survival, betrayal, importance of family and love. It is a tale that ought to stay with us every day of our life. It is a movie that doesn’t shy away from hurt – even if it is masked often by protective parents and their explanations. The Lion King is a movie for the ages. And we are lucky we happened to be those ages.
For your general info, my favorite Disney movie ever, Beauty and the Beast, will be re-released in 3D on January. Yes, I’m uber excited too.