'The Lion King 3D:' What the Critics Are Saying

As the 1994 Disney classic returns to theaters today, some praise the film for reaching a new audience, while others call it a "clever marketing ploy" to promote the Blu-Ray DVD release.

Disney is re-releasing The Lion King this weekend, where it's slated to gross $15 million or more this weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter's box office preview. It should win the No. 1 spot away from the three new films debuting.

What are critics saying about the 3D conversion of the 1994 animated classic, which is tied to the Oct. 4 release of the Diamond Blu-Ray edition of the film?

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"The 3-D doesn’t add much — only depth — to this film, which won a couple of Oscars upon its release. A wildebeest or hyena almost falls into your lap here and there," writes Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel.

Still, Moore is a fan of Lion King's return to theaters for the nostalgia factor.

"Once upon a time, pre-video, Disney reissued its classics to theaters for short runs so that a new generation could experience them the way they were meant to be seen. That makes this Lion King revival part of a grand tradition, 3-D or not," he writes. "Some who were just children 17 years ago have the chance to make this the first Disney film their kids see in a theater. Lucky them."

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Over at Rotten Tomatoes, it has an 89 percent rating.

In the National Post, Katherine Monk gives it 3.5 stars and says, "The only difference is the third dimension, which means this new release of The Lion King, hitting theaters for a two-week engagement starting Sept. 16, is either just a clever marketing ploy to crank out some extra cash at the box office for a studio with a reduced slate, or it’s an earnest salute to a new era of technology….In truth, it feels like a little bit of both."

"The added dimension does not change the story. It does not flesh out any unexplored crevice of theme, which is why it all feels, in some ways, entirely gratuitous and just a tad exploitative. Then again, Shakespeare never loses his edge, and so this jungle take on Hamlet can handle all the bells and whistles and decorations the folks at Disney deem worthwhile. Certainly, the 3D effect — which is rather minimal in the end — doesn’t diminish either the technical or narrative achievement, and, in the end, that’s all that matters," she adds.

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The Boston Globe's Ty Burr says "no expense has been spared in making The Lion King the best-looking post-production 3-D job to date. The company gets points for trying. But it’s still a post-production 3-D job, and it still doesn’t look quite right."

Blog FilmSchoolRejects.com's review is titled "The Lion King Makes Me Cry All Over Again in 3D."

"The 3D, on a very basic level, looks fine. It’s not nearly as immersive as it could be, and the moments where it could be truly transcendent never quite reach their potential. Case in point – the whispering wind sequence where a now-grown Simba sees his father in the clouds and the leaves, an already beautiful and colorful sequence that also features a ton of on-screen movement that should translate to 3D gold. The sequence is still as lovely as ever, but the 3D doesn’t render it any more lovely than it was originally. The death of Mufasa is not more sad, the hellish gathering of Scar and the hyenas is not more scary, the final battle is not more stirring – it’s all the same, but with an extra dimension that works only in the most technical of ways," writes Kate Erbland.

"Of course, this all begs the question – was this conversion even necessary? As in most cases with this sort of thing, I take a pretty hard line of 'actually, no,' she adds.