DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Lion King, 3D Blu-ray 4-disc Diamond Edition (1994/2011)

One of Disney's masterpieces, even better in 3D.

Published on August 5, 2012

The Lion King, 3D Blu-ray 4-disc Diamond Edition (1994/2011)

Voices: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Niketa Calame
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 106671
Music: songs: Elton John & Tim Rice, orch. score by Hans Zimmer
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-H MA 7.1, PCM stereo 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Inc. separate Blu-ray 2D, DVD & Digital Copy discs, 4 never-before-seen deleted scenes, Deleted song, The Morning Report – extended scene, Bloopers, Disney Second Screen feature, “A Memoir – Don Hahn, Disney Sing-Along Mode, Interactive Gallery, Audio commentary, Disney’s Virtual Vault with classic DVD features, BD Live
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: *****

Winner of Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, The Lion King fully deserved it. It is the highest-grossing hand-made animated feature ever, its Broadway musical version has been a continuing success there—and now that I’ve seen some images from it I want to see a video of that due to the imaginative costumes/mechanical creations.

I gather this is a post-production 3D conversion, and that usually doesn’t result in very good 3D (there are some complaints online about it), but I found the 3D quality very good. I think the advantage is it being cel animation allows for better after-the-fact 3D image separation. The story of the coming-of-age adventures of Simba the lion cub are by now known by most people, though I must admit this was my first viewing. I understand it closely followed the story of an older Japanese anima feature, Kimba the White Lion. It has a villain you really love to hate in Scar, and great sidekick characters to Simba in the farting warthog and his pal (what IS he?) Timon. Mufasa, the papa lion, is also a great character. The various celebrity voices are fun too – Jeremy Irons makes a terrific Scar, and Whoopi Goldberg’s voice will have you saying “Why, that hyena is Whoopi Goldberg!”

I was sometimes wishing there were captions for the songs in the film, since the lyrics were sometimes inaudible along with the orchestral backing. (I’ve wished that on numerous films with songs in them. Don’t know why that is always neglected in film captions features – except in operas.) The various bonus features are also of interest, though I have never understood the animation efforts that go into making supposed “blooper” scenes of animation to include in the extras; it all seems a bit silly. This is one of Disney’s animation masterpieces, and definitely more fun in 3D.

—John Sunier




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