Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Lion King 3D

"Chrono Trigger" is a classic, but come on.  This is "The Lion King".  There are some things just considerably more important than a video game, no matter which one.  "The Lion King" is only the first name that comes into your head when you think of the Greatest Animated Movie of All Time*.  We've all seen it a million times, we probably still have a copy of it on VHS in a box someplace in the basement.  You know the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata", you wept before when Mufasa died, and when your kids are born you will lift them up to Providence's divine rays at some point.  This movie defines classic, there can be no doubt about it.

And if for any reason you haven't seen "Lion King" yet.... You better run, because I'll find you.  I'll find you and make you pay what you owe.

I, of course, absolutely love "The Lion King".  I've seen the movie roughly ten thousand and a half times.  I even went to see the Broadway musical, which is an incredible experience.  Actually, the musical is several shades better than the movie, probably the best show you'll ever see in any medium.  It is beyond fantastic, stunning in every sense of the word.  So since "The Lion King" means an immeasurable deal to me and every child of the 90s, when it was released in theatres this month as part of a cheap 3D gimmick to better advertise the BluRay release next month, I had to go see it.  This was not a choice like most movies I see, this was an obligation.  It was a religious pilgrimage, a life-affirming act of the deepest personal and philosophical significance.  Yeah, I went to Israel, land of my forefathers and breadbasket of civilization, earlier this year, but that was just a vacation.  "The Lion King" in theatres - that's what's really important.  That's where true meaning lies.

There's no point in reviewing "The Lion King", because we all know its a perfect movie.  I would do it a disservice to even try to review it.  But I guess I can give an assorted bunch of thoughts and whatever.  So enjoy:

Obviously Lil' Bro had to come along for this ride.  He's four years old now, four years too old to have not seen "The Lion King".  What kind of Big Bro would I be if I didn't take Lil' Bro along for the ride?  Plus he just really likes popcorn and exactly in that age bracket to enjoy 3D glasses just for the sake of wearing stupid crap on your head during a movie.  Sadly, I don't think he liked the movie all that well.  I don't blame Lil' Bro, this is a considerably darker movie than "Winnie the Pooh".  Plus, Lil' Bro just isn't mature enough to actually understand what it means when somebody dies or that death is permanent at all.  "Does Simba get a new Daddy now?"  "Is he the Daddy now?"He seemed properly shocked when Mufasa died, at least, so maybe the message got to him on some level.  And he was scared to death when the lions started fighting.  (Or "the tigers" as Lil' Bro kept calling them.)  When he's older I'm sure he'll like the movie... or else we may have a problem here.

Maybe bringing Lil' Bro was a mistake, because he asked the saddest question ever during the stampede scene.  "Where is his Daddy?"  Oh, I fucking lost it.  That's not a sight you want to see.  "Lion King" doesn't usually make me cry, but this time, I failed.  You win this time, Disney.

So anyway, this is a 3D re-release.  Obviously 3D and I haven't seen I to I for the last few years.  3D thinks I should shill out an extra ten bucks for the privilege to see a movie, I think 3D is an idiotic waste of time that adds nothing to the movie.  We'd make a great couple, I think.  Anyway, was "The Lion King" made any better thanks to the 3D?  That's easy:  Hell No.  The first opening scene looked extremely good thanks to 3D boosting the already superb animation, but no other scene even came close to looking any better.  If anything, the 3D brought more focus on the limits of 2D animation, showing certain figures to be way flatter than they used to be.  Then most of the scenes look exactly the same anyway, without any 3D effects of any kind, just for a final insult.  So try to find a 2D showing, if at all possible.  3D sucks, its always sucked, and will continue to suck for a few more years until Hollywood finally dumps this fad for another few decades.

Also, if you haven't noticed, "The Lion King" is a moral tale mostly about the Divine Right of Kings, more than anything else.  When Mufasa and Simba - the kings chosen directly by God's shining light at the beginning of the movie - rule, the Pride Lands flourish.  When Scar rules, the place turns into a grey wasteland.  Clearly this is the Mandate of Heaven come to life.  Of course, this movie is also about Simba maturing, learning to face his problems, and eventually become the hero his world needs.

So how does "Lion King" stack up against modern family films?  Has it aged well?  Is that even a question?  "The Lion King" remains supreme, sadly being the best film released all year.  Average family films are miserable things, never loved by anybody but spineless producers imagining ways to remove money from the wallets of parents.  Do you think "Mr. Popper's Penguins" has even a faint glimmer of the artistic brilliance and loving detail put into this movie?  "Cars 2" is proven to be a barely passable fraud in comparison to "The Lion King".  Only "Winnie the Pooh" even compares, and that's only thanks to its own natural retro-style.  Great family and animated films are still being made, but "The Lion King" will never age.  That's what is means to be a classic.  Mufasa's death is still as stirring, Timon and Pumba's antics are still as funny, the animation is still a beautiful recreation of Africa's natural wonder, and the music is still as fantastic.  Perfect movies never become un-perfect.

Hankuna Matata everybody.

* I can't actually call it the Greatest Animated Movie Ever, because that would be extremely unfair to the competition.  We got "Coraline", "WALL-E", "Spirited Away", and a million others to consider.  I wouldn't dare name a Best Live Action Movie, I'd even less dare name a Best Animated Film.  Also, among Disney movies, I kinda got a soft spot for "Little Mermaid" and "Hunchback of Notre Dome".


  1. Well, I tried to play Devil's advocate and think of at least ONE thing that was bad about the Lion King, but I've got nothing. I asked my roommate, but he couldn't think of anything either. So, I guess I can't argue with you, it's perfect.

  2. I thought the 3D transfer was better than most movies. There was WAY more 3D added to this than The Nightmare Before Christmas, and they must be doing something different, because I didn't get a migraine, which I usually do when watching a movie in 3D.

  3. I don't like this movie. I even liked when Confused Matthew trashed this movie in a review.

    I propably should have stuck to watching The Jungle Emperor, on which Lion King is based.

    The movie may not have a very good story, but at least the animation is high quality. It still falls short to Gibli movies.

    Yu missed the oportunity to prsent your lil bro to Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind or Laputa or Secret of Nimh.

  4. I hugely disagree with Confused Matthew, on a huge number of levels. The guy is way too negative. Even his main point "confused how people can like this" just shows how he's completely unable to accept an alternative point of view. Also, why do you have to spend like three hours bashing movies? I can get being unhappy with them and writing a ten minute review, but three hours is just cruel.

    Especially when you spend the entire time bitching and not even trying to be funny.

    His main complain with Lion King was that Simba was... acting like a kid at the beginning? I see somebody didn't get it.

    (However, 2001 does suck as bad as Matthew says. Only I'd say he was barking up the wrong tree there, because he was asking for 2001 to be a narrative, which it just isn't. That means it sucks by intention, which is a hard place to judge. Still, don't watch that movie.)

  5. FINALLY! Someone else who doesn't like the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey!"

  6. I actually liked 2001. It didn't have a good story until the HAL9000 part, but it was visually the most impressive movie I've watched. Did you sit through the entire movie? I did it and think the last part is well worth it. The sequel is also better like Matthew said. If nothing else it paved the way to a certain space fantasy trilogy. I read the book in middle school. It seems Clarck was able to make it more interesting in written form.

    My opinon isn't informed by CM. I just liked to find someone that doesn't love the movie. I think it's very simplistic, has an unlikable protagonist and stole its plot and many of its scenes from The Jungle Emperor, which I had watched first. Even that scene in which he speaks to his father in clouds is a copy!

    I agree with CM that Hakuna Mattata is a bad message that likely shouldn't have been made into a catchy children's song. Despite how good it is.

    The way Matt describes Timon and Pumba's relationship with Simba is also correct. They see him as some kind of bodyguard, only adopting/hanging out with him for selfish reasons. I should be able to care about the relationship between theses characters to enjoy the movie.

    I always thought young Simba was an asshole, even when I watched the movie as a kid.He put everyone in danger, although I don't blame him for getting curious about that graveyard wasteland. Mufasa should have told him what was there, so he knew why he shouldn't go. Still I never made such mistakes when I was a kid, so I could never sympathise.

  7. Nicholas, I only ever found 1 person that liked it. I myself only like the latter portion. And the monkeys part.

  8. I didn't just sit through 2001, I went to a special screening hosted by the actor who played Dave in this movie. (Forget his name.) It was... basically unwatchable. Yeah, visual effects are fine - they exist to SUPPORT a narrative, not be the whole movie! There is no plot, HAL is the only character with any motivation, personality, and emotions, and huge segments of the movie go nowhere. Plus the ending makes no sense!

    Also, Timon and Pumba don't entirely adopt Simba for selfish reasons. Pumba wants to keep him from the beginning. Timon is more cunning, yet when Simba falls in love he's the one who is most deeply hurt to lose his friend. Plus if Timon and Pumba are only using Simba, why the Hell did they go to Pride Rock to fight by his side? They did it because Simba is their friend, and they're gonna stick by him.

  9. I read the book 2001 before I saw the movie 2001, I liked the book but hated the movie. I remember the ending making more sense in the book because I had more to go on than just visuals.

  10. I agree, Timon and Pumba may have originally thought of Simba as a bodyguard, but clearly by the end they were friends.

    And Young!Simba is supposed to be annoying and selfish. Not only does it draw a comparison between the way he says he'll be king and the way Scar actually acts as king, but it also allows for the most important ingredient in any story, character development.

    And I don't think Hakuna Matata teaches children anything wrong, especially when the characters DO go back to face their past and make up for prior mistakes! Simba may WANT to leave the past behind him, but when he realizes it's his duty to return to Pride Rock and take his place as king, he does it not as a privledge but as something he has to do, for the good of his people.

    I never saw The Jungle Emperor, but the Chosen One speaking to a dead father or advisor is a common trope in myth, especially coming of age tales where the hero is reluctant to give up their happiness and comfort-filled life for the ultimate good of the people. I'm sure there are similarities, but the two works probably had similar inspirations. Harry Potter is a lot like Neil Gaiman's The Book of Magic, but even Gaiman has said that there are many stories which are pretty much the same with different characters and themes.

  11. In response to your Daily Thought:
    The eyes! They are at once horrifying and, yet, irresistible. I want to look away but I cannot! They peer into the very depths of my soul! Get out! GET OUT! SPARE ME, DEMON AERIS!

  12. Drake, I know that. However, it's actually pretty clear that the Lion King was at least strongly inspired by Jungle Emperor (Kimba, the white lion in the US).

    Disney already had connections with Osamu Tekuka previously. Some scenes in the movie seem to be taken directly from the series, and even the main character has basically the same name and was seemingly originally planned to be a white lion too. This goes beyond coincidence.


    As for 2001, I agree it's not a good movie. I simply enjoyed it.

  13. Totatlly off topic: Good news Blue! Dragon Quest VII is coming to the PSN between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

    -The 1 & only Uzuki

  14. "So since "The Lion King" means an immeasurable deal to me and every child of the 90s, when it was released in theatres this month as part of a cheap 3D gimmick to better advertise the BluRay release next month, I had to go see it. This was not a choice like most movies I see, this was an obligation. It was a religious pilgrimage, a life-affirming act of the deepest personal and philosophical significance. Yeah, I went to Israel, land of my forefathers and breadbasket of civilization, earlier this year, but that was just a vacation. "The Lion King" in theatres - that's what's really important. That's where true meaning lies."

    So, let me get this straight. Going to see a 2D animated film in the theater is more important to you than going to a place of great spirituality? Wow!

    "When he's older I'm sure he'll like the movie... or else we may have a problem here."

    Why would it be a problem at all if your little brother doesn't like "The Lion King?" If he doesn't like, big deal. Who cares?