Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lion King 3D = FAIL

Let me start off by making one thing PERFECTLY clear.  I LOVE the Lion King. In my opinion, which HERE actually matters, it is the best animated feature movie Disney has made.


OK. OK. You say, it is a very good movie. But the best? EVER?

So why the FAIL?

Simple. 3D messed it up. Adding the 3D element to this movie literally broke it.

I remember watching this movie countless times with my young son and every single time I watched it (on video) I thought, WOW! I would love to have seen this movie on the big screen. We laughed, cried, cheered, sang the songs, and recited the lines (You gotta put your behind in the past). Because truth be told it is a powerful film, a feast for the soul and the senses. Seeing it on the big screen multiplies the films power tenfold. So when my six year old son asked me, who surfs the internet CONSTANTLY, to see the Lion King when it comes out in theaters, I of course said yes. That he knew it was coming to theaters where I did not is a testament to how much Nick he watches "elsewhere". But I digress. Anyhoo, about the movie.  Right.

The quality of the animation (very very smooth) tells a tale of much labor put forth by animators to create such a wonderful piece of art. Lush visuals and beautifully animated EVERYTHING. The music captures and holds your heart. You WANT to sing (and in the theatre today MANY people including myself did) and it lifts you up when it is supposed to. The story was and remains original and certainly not formulaic (unlike almost every animated feature from isney-Day). And the story is still fresh and new even though the entire audience during our early morning viewing, was reciting whole sections out of familiarity. And noone seemed to care. It was fun. And would have been a great experience if not for one thing.


Why Disney why? Why would you add 3d to this wonderful work of art? Because when you did, you broke it.

From the first scene, Simba's presentation to the herds, and on through the entirety of the movie, my reverie, my enjoyment of the film was constantly interrupted by the supposed 3D effect.

How?  I'll tell you.

As a 2D animated feature, The Lion King, was nearly perfect. No jerky motion, no clunky art, It was so beautiful (for american mainstream animation sorry) and flowed so nicely. In 3D? Not so much. Objects, characters, scenery actually LOST depth and became themselves flattened. I felt like they had remade it using Flash. I actually took my 3D glasses off at several points to compare and found it restored somewhat to its original beauty. The motion of masses in 3D (herds, trees, anything in groups of objects) went from flowing organically in the original natural chaotic randomness to marching rows and separate layers that seemed to move in erratic lines that jarred the senses. I felt almost carsick. And I don't get carsick.

Was that such a big deal you might ask? YES! Watch it for yourself and see if you must. Because honestly, the film is STILL the film. Just not nearly so much fun to watch on the big screen as a result of the 3D, but still very good.

 So back to the question at hand. Why add 3D to this movie? I might get on to a rant here about companies being all about money and so forth. But in reality, I believe some marketing exec somewhere just didn't get it. This change was unnecessary. And it probably cost them a LOT of money to do this. The time and energy put in to making this work even as badly as it did, must have cost them a fortune. Oops.

Nothing against anyone who might have worked on this, because I know alot of animation professionals must have spent countless hours working on this.  But quite frankly I dont think ANYONE could have made this work. It was just plain unnecessary.

 So would I recommend you not see it? No. To me the theater experience is primal (yes primal) It harks back to the cavemen days of humanity when some shaman (maybe a baboon) deep in a cave told stories of the hunt by the light of an oil lamp with cave paintings as a backdrop to his story.

 So I say see it, but maybe take off the glasses. It might be blurry, but at least it won't leave you feeling carsick.