Lion King: The King Has Returned (1994; 2011)

Posted: October 5, 2011 in Adventure, Animated, Children's, Comedy

The young lion prince is welcomed into the world with a big fanfare, but not all are happy in the kingdom with the future king. As Mufasa raises his young son Simba, his brother Scar is planning the fall of both his brother and nephew. Along with the hyenas, Scar aims to trick Simba into danger. When Scar’s plan ends in success, he convinces Simba to run away and then commands the hyenas to follow and kill him. Although Simba has escaped, he feels lost and finds himself adopted into friendship with a pair of outcasts. Meanwhile, the kingdom is taken over by Scar and hyenas with no relief in sight.

Starring: Matthew Broderick (Adult Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Young Simba), Jeremy Irons (Scar), Robert Guillaume (Rafiki), Rowan Atkinson (Zazu), Nathan Lane (Timon), Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa), Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi), Cheech Marin (Banzai), Jim Cummings (Ed), Moira Kelly (Adult Nala), Niketa Calame (Young Nala), Madge Sinclair (Sarabi)

This film created in 1994 has seen multiple re-releases as each generation of kids since the original release has been given a chance to experience this classic movie. The original film featured a talented cast of voice actors. Leading the group is James Earl Jones as Mufasa. “Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one future king.” Lines like this one became part of our cultural history. Simba was actually voiced by two actors, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (young) and Matthew Broderick (adult). Each added something to the character’s personality, with Thomas having the playful, naive spirit and Broderick dealing with the moral dilemma of self versus community interest. Jeremy Irons serves as the evil Scar, with an ability to project a sense of dominance and instill a sense of fear through his voice.

Disney has a knack for creating cultural staples in film between their classic animated features and more recent Pixar features. With the Lion King, the movie seems to be one of the few that truly covers all ages and interests, with multiple releases, a Broadway show based after the original film and an ability to catch people emotionally with every viewing. The most recent release in 3-D may not make a significantly different impact with the updated technology but the classic film is completely intact. Since the movie was created prior to the 3-D revolution, there are some environmental elements that include some depth but nothing that pops out of the screen. While I anticipated scenes like the boneyard and the canyon to be perfect scenes in 3-D, they only had a little bit of depth added to the viewing experience.

While the re-release is truly meant to be a reset for the new Blu-Ray and 3-D home releases, seeing the film in the theater (even with only a limited window) is an experience reminiscent of my younger days. It is a story that truly can stretch across generations and deserves to be saved for each new generation.

Dan’s Rating: 5.0/5

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