Anniversaries are a big deal, and the twenty-fifth silver one for The Lion King is no exception. But in Disney’s case instead of a re-release of the beloved original ,the company decided to go all out with a remake. So, naturally the question on viewers minds is whether it a must see or pass? Should you spend the money to see it in theaters or wait till it is released on Blu-ray, DVD or digital?
Quick Plot recap
The Lion King storyline as a reminder for those under five or over eighty-five is about a chalky young lion called Simba. Seeking to prove himself and taking the wrong advice from his Iago-like the uncle, he gets into trouble. Serious trouble. The kind in he is partly responsible for his dad’s death. As the plot progresses, he runs away from the herd and meets two happy go, lucky friends. Timon and Pumba who teach him to live Hakuna Matata ( trouble-free) style and oh, how to be a vegetarian. But life kicks him back into gear when Nala his childhood friend shows up and asks him to come back to govern the troubled Pridelands.
Many of us still recall the fantastic soundtrack that Hans Zimmer, Lebo M., and Elton john contributed. Songs like The circle of life, I cant wait to be king, and Cant you feel the love tonight have become an integral part of our family Disney playwright collection. My son listens to that on a weekly basis.
And then there was the memorable dialogue that my son memorized. Sentences like “It tastes like chicken” ” Life’s not fair” also have a special place in our household. Ask many families with autism, and they’ll smile since they use those phrases to explain so many life situations – from bullying at school to tasting a new flavor of food.
So naturally, my son and I were excited to be incited to see the live-action version. Going in – we weren’t sure what to expect. A different storyline? New dialogue? New songs? Would they measure up to the version we knew so well and loved?
It is all about the CGI effects
We were fortunate to watch this in a 3D version, and it was breathtaking. The detail on the CGI characters was incredible. You could see every little hair om Rafiki’s face; the wings move on butterflies and the wiggle of the worms. This edition is an astounding accomplishment of CGI magic.
For the two hours, we were in the theater, it felt like going on a brief African safari but without the hassle of the long flights.
I genuinely recommend spending the extra money and going to a 3 D performance if you can. The vibrant colors and depth and pop out details are something that a home theater just cannot duplicate.
Dialogue and Score
The score is still fantastic to listen to after all those years. In the global press conference, Lebo M relayed that the famous cry of ‘Nans Ivenyas’ was something he did as a demo. He said he did it in one take and couldn’t duplicate the sound though he tried. I believe it. It is unique. When you listen to it, you get a visceral reaction. We were treated to a live performance of the circle of life at the press conference, and it still managed to get everyone so excited a quarter of a century later.
We were glad to see that the creators were careful to adhere to most of the original dialogue. After all- why mess with a perfect thing? Minor alterations were the scene with Scar and the hyenas aka ‘Be Prepared’ and the ‘Easter Egg’ reference to Beauty and the Beast. After all, when you are as vast as Disney- laughing just a little at your self is the way to go.
And then there are two new songs.Beyonce’s “Spirit” and Elton John’s “Never too late” that shows up in the end credits.In our case “Never too late”” is fast becoming our go to chant when things don’t go as planned during the day.
Theater or Blu-ray?
For die-hard Disney fan or a CGI addicts I strongly recommend going to the theaters. This movie, especially in 3D, is the perfect fit for you. With that out of the way , what about the rest of us?
If you have a kid that hasn’t seen the original, taking them to watch this on the big screen can be a great introduction. Mufasa’s death scene ,though sad, isn’t graphic and is appropriate even for the younger kids.
Bottom line : if you appreciate incredible visual effects and wish to relive some iconic movie moments then Disney’s The Lion King is a must see in theaters. If not a fan of CGI and the original story you might want to wait for the Blu-ray.
- Parents might want to talk to their kids about death and how it affects kids .After all Mufasa’s death is a pivotal point in the story.
- The movie has a few loud scenes like battle scenes of the lions and hyenas as well as the stampede scene in which Mufasa is killed. Sensitive kids might want to take a bathroom break during those times.
- At 2 hours long the movie is relatively short but plan a bathroom break before the start.
- The movie does not contain rude language or explicit scenes of any kind.Like THE LION KING on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyTheLionKing/Follow THE LION KING on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyLionKingFollow THE LION KING on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/LionKing/
THE LION KING arrives in theatres everywhere on July 19th!
Disclaimer: Special thanks to Disney Studios for hosting my son and me on the press junket and pre-screening event. My opinions are my own and cannot be influenced in any way