DVD & Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Lion King’

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Mufasa and Simba in Disney's The Lion King

With a worldwide gross of $1.6 billion, Disney’s remake of The Lion King –which eschewed hand-drawn animation in favor of the same digital rendering technology used in The Jungle Book — was another box office smash in the studio’s ever-expanded line of new films based on old properties. Now the king of the Pride Rock is headed to home video, but is Simba worthy of ruling over your Blu-ray collection?

You can read our full review of the theatrical release here, but here’s a brief excerpt:

A project as ambitious as The Lion King is bounds to have flaws, and most of them are borne from its strict adherence to the previous film. The incredibly realistic visuals never cease to be impressive, and if you played the footage alongside an episode of Planet Earth II you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish between the two, but the film’s emotional beats rely almost solely on the audience’s familiarity with — and affection for — the original film.

I’ll readily admit that I was moved to tears on three separate occasions, but to be fair, watching the animated version elicits the same response during those same moments, so it’s difficult to credit the remake with inducing those emotions. There’s no denying that Favreau and his team have crafted a brilliant technological achievement, an undeniable visual masterpiece, but whether The Lion King is a great film on its own merits is a subject that will likely inspire a fair amount of debate.

We had great things to say about the visuals of The Lion King, and those qualities haven’t diminished one iota for the home video release. If anything, the fidelity of the Blu-ray transfer allows for an even greater appreciation for the technical achievements, and I often found myself pausing the film to pore over scenes and marvel at the incredible attention to detail. Individual blades of grass and single strands of fur are rendered in remarkably lifelike fashion, and viewers searching for evidence of the illusion will have their work cut out for them.

The feature-length commentary track with Jon Favreau is easily the best extra on the disc, as he goes deep on the entire filmmaking process, from the digital creation of the animals to the recording of voice actors and much, much more. Disney has been a little hit-or-miss in recent years with their commentary tracks, but this one is spectacular. There’s also a three-part “making of” featurette, easy access to the film’s songs, and a sing-along option that displays lyrics over the musical numbers.

The Lion King may not reach the heights of its animated counterpart, but it looks positively stunning on Blu-ray, and will fascinate viewers that want to learn more about the technology used to bring Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa to life in strikingly realistic fashion. Pick it up with confidence — just make sure the original film is also part of your collection.

The Lion King is now available on Blu-ray. Click this link to purchase from Amazon.

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