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The Lion King - Blu-ray Review

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The Lion King - Blu-ray

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5 stars

The Biblical themes and Shakespearean influences running throughout Disney’s masterpiece, The Lion King, are part of why this gem is more than a perfect film.  The rich music - songs by Elton John and Tim Rice and a wondrous score by Hans Zimmerman - is another.  Yet, it is the animation, both wildly rich and sincere, that catapults this film into the heavens where it has yet to wear out its welcome.  It seems even God himself approves of The Lion King.

Because it balances the Disney formula with a couple of choice story influences, The Lion King proves to me a more timeless tale than some of its counterparts.  Here, we have the story of lion cub and future king named Simba (voiced early by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and later by Matthew Broderick) who is quickly outsmarted and outpaced by his father’s power-starved brother, Scar (Jeremy Irons).

Scar plots to murder Mufasa (James Earl Jones) with the help of three hyenas as he is still reeling over the birth of his competition.  Convinced he is to blame for his father’s death, Simba exiles himself from Pride Rock and befriends Timon and Pumbaa (Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella); a meerkat and a warthog partnership which will eventually help a fully grown Simba return to the throne.

While the simplicity of the story is handled with a nice layering of emotional themes and lively comedic beats, it’s the animation that carries the film in its weaker and lagging second-half moments.  Dark and subversive with cool shadows and jagged edges, The Lion King flexes more than enough chiseled muscle early on to be courageous with its kid-friendly content when danger is about.

The background horizons are brightly bold and the lines around character’s faces are consistently strong and full of curious emotion; always strong, always engagin.  Time and time again, the picture bubbles with a classic cool charm that places Simba’s small cub paws in the outline of his father’s own steps.  And, in another, the bond between a father and son is established through the twinkling of the nighttime sky.

With a cast of voice talents that includes Rowan Atkinson, Cheech Marin, Whoopi Goldberg, and Madge Sinclair, The Lion King has more than its fair share of lovely moments that zing by like a greatest hits collection of classic lines.  Co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff work the actors and the action – which is heavy on the zooming close-up and pull-aways to keep the film from running completely out of steam once Scar has taken over.  Set pieces are dynamic and the film returns to its romance before the final nuances of its operatic reach outstay their welcome.

Arriving on blu-ray for the first time ever as part of their ongoing Diamond Edition collection, Walt Disney proudly treats The Lion King as the royalty it is with a beautiful release that celebrates the film’s stunning and continued dominance.  The cycle of life and death you know, it’s just oh so moving.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Lion King - Blu-rayMPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Director
: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Writer: Irene Mecchi
Cast: Matthew Broderick; Niketa Calame; Jim Cummings; James Earl Jones; Nathan Lane
Genre: Family | Animated
Tagline:
Life's greatest adventure is finding your place in the Circle of Life.
Memorable Movie Quote: "We're gonna fight your uncle... for this?"
Official Site:
disney.go.com/lionking/?cmp=dmov_dvd_lio_url_dcomgolionking_Extl
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date:
June 24, 1994
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 27, 2011

Synopsis: The wait is over. For the first time ever, experience the majesty of Disney’s epic animated masterpiece as it roars onto Blu-ray™ and Disney Blu-ray 3D™, October 4, 2011. With a spectacular digital picture, spine-tingling high definition sound and immersive bonus features—you will feel the love for this critically acclaimed and universally beloved classic like never before.

Embark on an extraordinary coming-of-age adventure as Simba, a lion cub who cannot wait to be king, searches for his destiny in the great “Circle of Life.” You will be thrilled by the breathtaking animation, unforgettable Academy Award®–winning music (1994: Best Original Score; Best Original Song, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”), and timeless story. The king of all animated films reigns on Disney Blu-ray.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Lion King

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Diamond Edition Blu-ray

Available on Blu-ray - September 27, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy; BD-Live

Again, Disney dominates the HD home theatre market with a film release that is more beautiful in appearance than it ever was when originally released.  The wondrous 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer is ripe with colors and sound.  The palette is pure and vibrant and full of elemental levels that never give up in focus and feeling.  Ink levels are deep and the shadows are layered with a perfect natural beauty that comes from the animation.  The film might be 17 years old, but – other than a few animated imperfections - you can’t tell that it’s aged at all.  Also of note is the soul-stirring DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track that surrounds the picture with brilliant soundscapes.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

Disney offers another way to enjoy the film with Disney Second Screen, a way to sync the movie up with an iPod and/or iPod (or other mobile device) that opens up a whole new avenue of interactivity with games and content.  The supplemental material is rich as Disney has, once again, opened the vaults and cleaned them out with tons of making-of features and featurettes that are just full of great moments about Africa, the animators and their research.  Here, you will learn just how close the makers came to ruining Elton’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” by making it a duet between a warthog and meerkat.  Because it houses – in the dynamic Disney’s Virtual Vault – all the other supplemental materials from previous releases, this is a must own.  This release is bound to be a classic one.  Scoop it up before they put it back in the vaults.

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