So my friend calls up right, she’s all like “hey do you want to go see The Lion King in 3D” and I’m all like “I remember that movie but damn at some point in the recent past I became a grown-ass man I surely have better things to do with my time” but do you know I do not have better things to do with my time and yesterday was Wednesday and I have an Orange phone so when I got the tickets I thought ‘hey! £9.50 isn’t bad for two people’ until I remembered that that is usually for one people and the whole cinema industry is built on the lie that huge amounts of money are necessary to make good films and when you go to see Transformers you are part of the problem.
Anyway the trailers are all for kids and let’s just take a moment to remember that Chloe Moretz is still a child actor and when she turns up in a trailer where Sacha Baron Cohen falls down it pained me to see Hit Girl reduced to type. To whit, playing a child. Every other trailer was Christmas themed and I swear film production companies are more excited than the children in their films. Like they’ve come across a sale for free money and they have a coupon. Then the Disney logo appears and I swear I can hear the executive team stifling their laughter when the music plays.
BOOM SUNRISE ON THE SAVANNAH AND SOME GUY SINGS ‘NNNAAAAAAAAAA’ and I’m eight years old and watching someone make the magical pictures on the big wall. The opening sequence to The Lion King, seventeen years on, still has more care and good instinct as to how a scene develops than most other films, let alone ‘kids’ films’. Someone has poured a life’s devotion to the craft into every frame of that, not because they figured ‘if we make the flamingoes just a little pinker we can bring in the pink-flamingo-loving demographic’ but because it’s what the scene in the film they’re making demanded.
The whole movie is still a pulled-tight athlete of a thing, paced and pitched so perfectly it seems like no time until Matthew Broderick is about to have a fight with Jeremy Irons except no they’re not they’re lions and I am totally invested in their dreams for a better future for all the citizens of the absolute monarchy of the animal kingdom.
The musical sequences are still great, “Hakuna Matata” and “Be Prepared” are immaculate pieces of story-advancing, character-developing musical theatre (and boy did I not get the hyenas-goosestepping thing the first time around), the drama is pulled along by some seamless movement between sequences, and you know what, some flawless voice-acting. Maybe it’s just me but Mufasa seems kind of a morbid dude in the film? Still the absolute archetype father figure that I some day hope to become, but drop of a hat and that guy’s talking about the great old kings and preparing Simba for his imminent death and being a ghost and aw man the wildebeest scene. Still scarring.
Ha! Scar-ing. That was totally by accident. Unlike Mufasa’s murder.
One thing that no one pointed out to me – lion cubs reach maturity at the age of two/three. Simba was hanging out with Timon and Pumbaa for eighteen months, tops. I always wondered why the other guys were so well-preserved after all that time and how Nala remembered all their jokes. It’s cause it happened, like, the other day.
Biologistics aside, what I’m saying here is that The Lion King is still a genuinely great film that handles all of its elements with skill and warmth and an appreciation that the audience have lives to be getting on with and the act of bringing children to the cinema should be a special thing. What I’m not saying is that everything from my childhood is better than what’s out now, which would be an easy thing to think, but that films like The Lion King really do only happen once in a generation, and it’s a challenge rather than a condemnation that it’s had such success the second time round.
Don’t bother with the 3D though, just makes your head hurt. What are your most beloved Lion King memories? Let us know in the comments.