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The Lion King in 3D (4/10)

by Tony Medley

Run Time 89 minutes.

OK for children.

If there is any activity more boring than watching a full length cartoon, I have yet to be exposed to it. In the olden days going to the movies consisted of a double feature sandwiched around a short newsreel and a cartoon, generally a Disney like Donald Duck or a Looney Tunes & Merry Melodies with Bugs Bunny or Elmer Fudd. They were around five minutes in length. Five minutes is fine for a cartoon. Changing the name to "animated" does not justify making a cartoon feature length.

Even so, Disney made a fortune on this film when it was released in 1994. It was so popular that it was made into a stage play, from which they made even more millions. Now Disney has remastered the original into 3D and rereleased it. It's still the same film, only now it has the third dimension added.

They needn't have bothered. The problem with 3D is that when it's not shot in 3D, but instead remade in post production, is that it mutes the colors terribly. That is what has happened to The Lion King.  As I do with most 3D films, I took of my 3D glasses and saw that the colors were much more vivid. Because the third dimension isn't that pronounced, I think that not only does the 3D add virtually nothing to the film, it actually detracts because the colors are so muted. To make the original, 600 artists created more than one million drawings for the film, which is made up of 1,197 hand-painted backgrounds and 119,058 individually colored frames of film. The addition of 3D mutes the brilliant colors these people created. Why go see a cartoon if not for the gorgeous color that cartoons have always displayed?

As for the content, while this film is apparently aimed at children it seemed awfully dark and depressing, given that the story is that the lion king, Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones), is killed by his brother, Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons), who tries to kill Mufasa's son, Simba (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas), who flees, but returns as an adult (voiced by Matthew Broderick) finally to triumph. The only performance I really enjoyed is by Rafiki (voiced by Robert Guillaume), a wise shaman baboon, who has the best line in the movie, one that still has me chuckling.

Given my feelings about cartoons, I can't recommend this. Even if you like them, I would advise sticking with the 2D version. I wouldn't trade the beautiful colors for the lame third dimension.