The Lion King

on June 24, 1994 by Annlee Ellingson
Of the titles from its animated library that Disney previously has selected to present on the giant screen--"Fantasia 2000," "Beauty and the Beast"--"The Lion King," along with Thanksgiving's "Treasure Planet," is particularly suited to the format. The film is replete with the grand vistas that are already a mainstay of large-format filmmaking and an enveloping audio mix that includes not only its award-winning score and songs but nature noises as well. (The roars, especially, demonstrate the format's amazing sound capability.)

In addition, the tale, about a lion cub who is deceived into thinking that he is the cause of his father's death and so forsakes his rightful place as king, is epic in nature, and the giant screen serves to only further the emotional wallop. After the movie's operatic wildebeest stampede, a scene of cinematic magnificence, the gorge lies empty, and the size of the picture is such that one painfully feels right there with Simba as he nuzzles the corpse of his father.

That said, when compared with "Treasure Planet," also in giant-screen theatres this season and filmed with the format in mind, "The Lion King" makes plain the evolution that animation has undergone over the past eight years. Although adjustments have reportedly been made, such as filling in facial features on background characters that previously were not needed, one can see more detail, or the lack thereof, right down to the sometimes jagged lines with which the characters are drawn. Also, the layers between the foreground action and background painting have become too obviously defined. While the large format augments its landscapes, sound and themes, it also augments details that weren't meant to be seen. Voiced by Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons and Nathan Lane. Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Written by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. Produced by Don Hahn. A Buena Vista release. Animated; large format. Rated G. Running time: 90 min

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