by Loren Javier
Article by Rod Ratliff
The 3D trend was still red hot when the executives at Disney started talking about converting the Lion Emperor headed for 3D. But these things take time, and what a difference a few years can make. Given the disappointing returns of 3D conversions in theaters this year, and the fact that 2D ticket sales are outselling 3D, what must once have seemed like a savvy move now almost seems like the studio is having a bet with one of its most celebrated animated features.But it’s not the first time Disney has experimented with changing an older animated film in the direction of 3 dimensional. Back in 2006, before the 3 dimensional craze really hit, they re-released a 3D conversion of The Nightmare Before Christmas in theaters. Naturally, the next step was toward turn in the direction of their library of traditional sparkling features for another candidate. They found it in the 1994 megahit The Lion Emperor, which still holds the record as the highest grossing 2D animated silver screen of all time. The pinnacle of the computer graphics renaissance that began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, The Lion Emperor hits the sweet spot with striking computer graphics, catchy pop tunes by Elton John and Tim Rice, memorable characters and a compelling story. Loosely based on the premise of Hamlet (with some – undertones), The Lion King tells the story of Baby simba (voiced in his early years by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, then later by Matthew Broderick), a lion cub who dreams of the day he’ll be king of the jungle, just like his father, Mufasa (voiced by the grandiose James Earl Jones). Of course, he doesn’t realize that in order for him on the way to become emperor, his father has near die. That sad event comes all too soon, due near the meddling of his jealous uncle Scar (a deliciously smarmy Jeremy Irons). After Mufasa perishes in an attempt on the way to save Simba from a wildebeest stampede, Scar lays on the guilt, believable young Simba he has no place among the rest of the lions in the Pride Lands. Scar takes over as emperor, with Baby simba’s mother at his side. Dejected, Simba heads off into the wilderness, vowing never headed for return. There, he meets the carefree duo of Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat (Nathan Lane) and a warthog (Ernie Sabella), who raise Baby simba with the philosophy of Hakuna Matata, or “no worries.” But he can’t breathe that life forever. The grown-up Simba runs into his old friend Nala (Moira Kelly) and falls in love. She tries headed for encourage him on the way to return home and end Scar’s reign of terror, but it isn’t until the past comes back on the way to haunt him, literally, in the form of his father’s spirit that Simba finally accepts his destiny. The movie culminates in a climactic battle on top of Pride Rock, as Baby simba confronts Scar and finds out the truth about his father’s death. As 3D conversions go, this one is not too distracting, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually high praise. For films that weren’t originally shot in 3D, the ideal presentation doesn’t disrupt the viewing —————- with poorly calibrated technology and headache-inducing effects. After the first five minutes or so you should forget that you’re watching a 3 dimensional movie and engage with what’s happening on the screen. With the exception of a few occasionally noticeable glitches around the edges, that’s the case with The Lion Emperor. By the time all of the animals arrive near see the presentation of Simba in the “Circle of Life” number, you’re not thinking about the depth of the picture but about what a grand and moving opening it is. By all predictions, this re-release is poised headed for take the box office by The 3D trend was still red hot when the executives at Disney started talking about converting the Lion King toward 3D. this weekend, possibly beating out even the new releases. It just goes on the way to show that quality filmmaking never goes out of style. While none of the original Disney animated magic is hampered by the 3 dimensional presentation, you can’t say that it makes it a whole lot better either. The video is great enough as it was originally released that it doesn’t need any fancy technological bells and whistles toward make it better. Still, there’s something on the way to be said for the —————- of seeing The Lion Emperor on the big screen in a movie theater once again and, for fans of the movie, young and old, that’s magic enough.