There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done. Disney’s amazing and beloved feature The Lion King roars to life on Blu Ray and for a film that is 17 years old the transfer is just stunning. The tale of young Simba traumatized by the loss of his father is a powerful (and Shakespearean) story that can be appreciated by all age groups and all walks of life. Hakuna Matata this is always such a great film to revisit!
With a story that nearly everyone on the planet has seen (more than once) or at least knows about, what does this re-release offer? Well for one 3D is a spectacular draw that stands apart from ill-executed messy post converted films. Beyond that there’s not only a wealth of detail in this pristine transfer but also a wealth of information. Behind every great story is usually an even greater story of bringing the film to the screen and The Lion King is no exception, from earthquakes to financial problems, The Lion King had all sorts of hurdles, as the Memoir of Don Hahn tells but it made it to theaters as well as the history books. But I won’t go too much in to the features; you can explore them on your own.
Looking back you’d find it hard to believe that a tale that has such an epic feel and tone to it is less than 90 minutes in length. Watching this again as an adult you almost wish it were longer so you could enjoy the story further. Dohn Hahn and directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff painstakingly crafted the film and to their credit were a driving force in the revival of Disney animation.
The Lion King is cast to near perfection as the lead characters are key to the story and the delivery is what sets this apart. James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons are the biggest and most prominent names in the bunch but Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella have great chemistry and lighting things up. Also Moria Kelly (who is a delight to speak with) Cheech Marin, Whoopie Goldberg round out the ensemble by bringing warmth and substance to their otherwise throwaway and one dimensional characters.
Getting back to the look of the film, certain scenes sing with such remarkable clarity that you’ll think it was made yesterday. In addition this Diamond Blu Ray transfer is so crisp that sometimes you’ll be able to see in amazing detail the pencil strokes in each frame that brought these characters to life. Pay close attention to Pumba in some of the bug hunting scenes and you’ll see for yourself what I’m talking about.
What is amazing to see when evaluating the film as a whole is the level of depth and maturity in a story that people may all too easily refer to as a kiddie or cartoon movie. As this is a retelling of Hamlet the themes existent are quite impacting and go a long way to affect kids. The death of a parental figure (something not new to Disney movies) the story of redemption, friendship, acceptance and hints at destiny are all explored without being preachy and too heavy. But there’s also the incredibly fun side too. Everyone knows the songs and can probably sing them in their sleep but there’s a magic surrounding The Lion King as it was lighting in a bottle created by the most talented artists and best story tellers on the planet.
With impressive box office numbers from the past few weeks of the 3D re-release and the fondness of the talent who worked on it (which to this day are all still incredibly favorable) The Lion King is one of the very best films, animated or otherwise, to ever grace the screen. Memorable songs, lovable characters and touching themes this is the whole package and is waaay more than the sum of the talented parts. Even if you own this on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD or all three formats, this is a film definitely worth the upgrade. An outright masterpiece is one film that you can watch again and again and again.