Story

The Lion King 3D is the 1994 Disney classic animated musical re-released in a 3D format. It’s the coming-of-age story of the lion Simba (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick), son of the powerful King of the Animal Kingdom, Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones). Mufasa is keen to prepare his cub for his future as King by teaching him his responsibilities. Simba’s impatient, however, and he and his friend Nala (voiced by Moira Kelly) often push beyond the limits set for them.

Simba’s Uncle Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons) is bitter about his nephew being next in line to the throne. He comes up with a plan for bloodthirsty hyenas to murder his brother and his nephew so that he can be the next King. Scar sets up Mufasa to be killed by a herd of stampeding wildebeests. Simba survives, but sees his father’s death. Traumatised by the events and blaming himself, he disappears from the Kingdom and everyone he loves.

In exile, Simba meets two unlikely friends in Pumbaa – the warthog (voiced by Ernie Sabella) and Timon the Meerkat (voiced by Nathan Lane). Together they live a life of careless freedom as Simba grows into an adult lion. But this carefree life is complicated when his childhood friend Nala finds his hideout. Nala tells Simba about how the Animal Kingdom has gone downhill since Scar became King. She urges Simba to go home to confront the evil Scar and take his rightful place as Lion King.

Themes

Death of a parent; separation from family and friends; the circle of life

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:
  • As young lion cubs, Simba and Nala are chased and almost eaten by a pack of hyenas before being rescued by Simba’s father, Mufasa.
  • Simba is almost trampled by a herd of wildebeests. He escapes by hanging from a tree branch. Mufasa attempts to rescue him but can’t. Mufasa asks Scar for help, but Scar causes him to fall to his death, trampled by the wildebeests.
  • Scar tells the hyenas that they should find Simba and eat him. They chase him, but he escapes.
  • There are several fight scenes between the lions. The final fight is quite dark and tense.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five. For example:

  • The death of Simba’s father, Mufasa, is very upsetting. The theme of his death continues throughout the rest of the movie, when Simba sees his father in the stars and talks to him. Simba is depressed, guilty and heartbroken. These scenes are very emotional and are likely to be upsetting for younger viewers.
  • Scar rules the kingdom with a heavy hand. He threatens the lionesses and makes them hunt the food to feed the hyenas. The kingdom is sparse and black and has an evil feel.
  • Mufasa’s confidant, Zazu, is kept in a cage of bones. Sometimes his life is threatened, but he isn’t hurt.
  • There are many scenes where the hyenas growl and hunt the lions and other animals. These scenes are often dark and menacing and might be scary for younger viewers.
  • The hyenas eat Scar when he falls off a cliff. This isn’t shown directly but is implied strongly through shadows and sounds.

From 5-8

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared or disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above, particularly Mufasa’s death.

From 8- 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Over 13

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There’s some mild flirting between Simba and Nala.

Product placement

There’s no product placement of concern in the movie, but plenty of merchandise associated with the movie is marketed to children.

Coarse language

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Lion King 3D is an animated musical that tells the story of how a lion cub grows up to become Lion King. The music and animation are the same as in the original movie, but some of the scarier scenes are more intense in the 3D format.The main messages from this movie are about the importance of family and taking responsibility.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty, bravery and forgiveness.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as the following:

  • Avoiding your problems: does running away from his problems help Simba? Why or why not? What are the benefits of facing your problems head on?
  • Death: there’s a strong theme of death in this movie, and your children might want or need to talk about it. You might need to explain concepts such as ‘the circle of life’ and ‘dead kings become stars’.