A young lion cub named Simba just can’t wait to be king. But the sudden death of his father, Mufasa, and the treacherous actions of his Uncle Scar lead Simba into exile and ultimately on a hero’s journey of self-discovery. Adopting the "hakuna matata" philosophy of his comical jungle guardians — a warthog and a meerkat (Pumbaa and Timon) — Simba eventually comes to terms with his destiny and returns home to Pride Rock to help put things right.
1080p, DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
1994, Rated G, 1 hour 28 minutes
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella
Directed by: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
The seminal masterpiece The Lion King finds yet another release on Blu-Ray, this time dubbed the Circle of Life Edition – part of the Signature Collection. It seems like only recently the 3D Blu-Ray Platinum edition was released, but six years have already passed since that time (wow – time flies as you get older!). So rather than review the 23-year-old movie itself, let’s take a look at what is new with this release.
This edition focuses on some new bonus features, as well as the inclusion of some found on prior releases. The newer content centers more on the production of the film and behind the scenes work done to bring the story to life, whereas previously much of the content was bonus scenes and songs. In line with a special signature series release, this content is marvelous for collectors and fans of the film that want to engross themselves in the history of this masterpiece. First up is a short piece showing recording sessions of the voice actors juxtaposed against their animated results. It was excellent to see the now very old looking video of Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson, and others as they sang or voiced their characters. I always find it interesting to see voice actors in action – as they still naturally make hand and facial gestures which actually aids the animators as they bring the characters to life.
Next, there are a number of videos showing the creative process in the production room as the directors, writers, lead animators and artists, and others come together to storyboard and discuss how various scenes play out. I found the video where the directors sing out their vision for Hakuna Matata to be particularly intriguing. It really speaks to how passionate Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff were about the film.
Continuing on, there is an extended interview with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, originally recorded in 2011 for the release of the Platinum Edition. The two actors have since played in Broadway shows and other films together and provide a highly entertaining recounting of their history with the film. It is surprising to learn that they didn’t even know one another at the time the film was made.
Rounding out the on-disc features are deleted scenes, the additional song, and a sing-along version of the film as seen in the Platinum Edition release. But for those that have an online account with Disney Movies Anywhere, you can enter the included code and also get the original bonus content included with the previous releases of the film. This is a fabulous bonus providing even more value with the purchase of the Blu-ray. Overall, this release is fantastic and I would highly recommend it for everyone, even those that have the movie already. The only possible negative to the package is the lack of the 3D version, but even that can’t really be held against this release.
The actual presentation of the film is fantastic as it was in the previous Blu-ray release, just without a 3D version. Colors look beautiful and the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is outstanding. Having become accustomed to today’s digital animation and audio standards, it is always refreshing to see a (mostly) hand-animated film, and this is one of the best. As the directors mention in one of the included documentaries, color is a storytelling tool that can bring so many elements, such as emotion and mood, to a film. This is never more true than in The Lion King, which makes it essential that the presentation here be perfect – and it is.
- Includes Limited Edition Film Frames
- Sing-Along Version
- The Recording Sessions
- Visualizing A Villain
- Inside The Story Room
- Nathan And Matthew: The Extended Lion King Conversation
- Classic Bonus Preview Reel
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes
- Bloopers and Outtakes