If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I hear you guys yelling from the background, "Fool! Why did you waste your money on this?!" And to be quite honest.... I don't have a solid answer to that. I'm rather baffled at what happened tonight, but there may be hope at pulling things together to get a rating for this re-release of Disney's 1994 epic tale. At that time, it became an International hit, but this time round, it has squashed it's way into the Elite, becoming one of the highest grossing films of all time. How very comfusing...
I won't bore you with the plotline or story to this, since we all know it in some form or memory. For this review, I will stick purely to it's merits as a re-release, both as a cinematic release, and as a HD remastering in general. And points straight away to Simba because, this film is gorgeous. Not in the "shock-and-awe" effect we're so used to from CGI animated films, more like... a pain-stakingly crafted painting given a clean and shine. This is one of the great examples of what can be achieved in 2D, and the African Savannah has never looked so vibrant. The sound is also excellent, deep and warm, giving the opening sequence even more splendour.
The 3D effects are added here and there, not in the Lucas-esque addition of new content, but instead giving it to features that were already in the film. Leaves blowing in the wind, rustling grass, and birds swooping across your field of vision, it's all done with a high level of quality, and most importantly, feels natural. It never sticks out like a sore thumb like it can in some more unfortunate titles, Disney shows once again that when it comes to effects, they're the Daddies.
This is still The Lion King, the mid-90's animated feature, and it sadly did not live up to my childhood memories. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fabulous piece of work, but it lacks the certain "glow" and tautness that made a film like The Princess and the Frog, such a joy. It's very shakey on its legs as it moves between plotlines, as if it's rushing to get to the next song or major scene. And also, even though I hadn't seen this film in more than 12 years, it was very linear in the essance of the story, simply playing out the classic tragedy to a younger audience. The voice acting is strong, as are (surprisingly) the songs, so it wasn't all bad. It's just that it wasn't what I'ld hoped it would be to see again.
I know I'm being harsh on this, the parts that are good, and bloody incredible. The opening sequence still has the emotional weight to grab hold of you, and Scar is still an excellent villian. So, where does that leave me on the rating?
Well, let me offer... two ratings. Because this needs to be considered both on the level as a theatrical release, and a home release. And to be honest, you'll enjoy this way more at home on Blu Ray. Of you have kids or relations that might enjoy it, then it's worth bringing them to the cinem to experience it at it's best. But even on nostalgic lines, it's just not worth the premium ticket, especially since there's much better films lined up for the 3D works by Pixar. Treat yourself to them when they come out, and save your money to get the Blu Ray of The Lion King.
Verdict - A very nice remastering, with some good 3D effects, just as you'ld expect from Disney. But this is way too high a price to pay for something you're going to buy in two weeks anyway. Only kids and die-hard nostalgia fans need view.
Cinema - 6.5/10 (Matinee rating)
Blu Ray - 8.5/10 (This is an assumption, since I haven't seen the Blu ray yet.) ;)
Thanks for reading!