Thanks to my AMC Stubs membership, I was able to spend Friday night at the movies, or at least the same movie twice. I decided to use two of my three tickets this week to watch The Lion King in both 3D and 2D.

The new “live action” release is the same story as the animated classic from 1994. Simba is a newly born cub, the son of Mufasa. Mufasa’s brother Scar makes two attempts to kill Simba and maintain his claim to Pride Rock. The second attempt leads to Mufasa’s death, and Scar terrorizes Simba to get him to run away.

While away from Pride Rock, Simba befriends Timon & Pumba before lioness Nala arrives and Simba is convinced to return to his home, challenging Scar & his army of hyenas for control of the Pride lands.

There are changes from the animated original. The animals are less anthropomorphic in this version. For example, Scar does not lock Zazu in a cage, or play with skulls & bones. Timon does not put on a skirt & do the hula to distract the hyenas. And Rafiki only uses a staff once.

There are changes to dialogue & one song in particular that I noticed. I’m not sure if its a good thing or a bad one that Disney will now allow explicit fart jokes in their films. I think this sets the precedent.

Of the original cast, only James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa. The man is a presence as the king of the Pride lands.

Of the new cast, I’d say Seth Rogan as Pumba and John Oliver as Zazu provided the best performances. Too bad Pumba doesn’t get to call out, “They call me ‘Mr. Pig’!” as he did in the original, thanks to another change in the dialogue.

Between the two formats, I preferred the 3D release. The animals and effects looked less detailed in the 2D screening.

As for the music, Hans Zimmer and Tim Rice & Elton John are still credited, and most of their music remains intact from the original release. Two girls sitting next to me in the nearly sold out 2D show sang along with a couple of the songs, and knew almost all the words to ‘Hakuna Matata’. Beyonce Knowles-Carter performs the new song, ‘Spirit’, when Simba & Nala are returning to the Pride land.

No doubt the animated film is a classic, and was a favorite of mine when I was younger, but this one was enjoyable, as well. And I think Jon Favreau has given us a better update than his previous release for Disney, The Jungle Book.

I may even go to see it in the IMAX format at another local AMC in a couple of weeks. For now, though, seeing it twice in one day was enough.

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