The only prescription for a cold, rainy spring day, and a touch of some flu-like illness, is to curl up with the girls on the couch and watch a movie, preferably a Disney animation classic. Well, the best I could do was The Lion King, featuring gorgeous animation, more stars than you could shake a stick at, and a pretty hackneyed plot (king dies, heir is banished, heir comes back to kick the evil uncle's ass). But the movie served its purpose, with 90 minutes of escapist fare.
It was actually a pretty intense movie for my girls. No offscreen deaths here; the father is brutally murdered by being dropped in the middle of stampeding wildebeests. And Simba is convinced to leave by his treacherous uncle and nearly killed by the dishonorable hyenas. The reunion scene, where Nalla finds Simba years later, is truly touching and had the girls in tears. And, of course, the climatic battle where Simba, his friends, and the lionesses defeat the hyenas and the evil uncle, is pretty intense. Maybe they are ready for Bambi?
Actually, I'm getting pretty tired of the standard Disney plot elements these days. While I recognize it is much easier, dramatically, I am not sure why nearly all the heroes and heroines in Disney movies are born into greatness and few actually earn it. Think about it - from Sleeping Beauty and Bambi through The Lion King and beyond, so many of them were heirs or princess; not really "up from the bootstraps" common folk like you and I. It was even more blatant in The Lion King, as King Mufasa brings little Simba up to overlook their kingdom and tells him soon, all this will be his. This kind of royal succession grates on an American anti-monarch type like myself. Where's the lobbyists he has to buyoff? Where's the selling of his soul in order to get his due? Just kidding...
Well, enough complaining. Technically, it was incredible. We have the Disney Special Platinum Edition, which is one that has the sound especially developed for a 5.1 home system, and it really was great. But of course, visually is where it truly stood out. Absolutely amazing, vivid, colors with razor sharpness, The Lion King is the best DVD picture I've seen on my Sony 50in SXRD HDTV, pumped through an upconverting Toshiba DVD player via HDMI. And the songs were pretty solid, especially Hakuna Matata. We had a grand time, despite my curmudgeonly grumbling.