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The Lion King: Diamond Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 27, 2011 by  



Magnificent!  “The Lion King” continues to resonate strongly with viewers today as it did back in 1994.   And with a Blu-ray release with awesome picture quality and an immersive soundtrack plus an abundant amount of special features, I have no problems saying that this is the definitive version of the film to own yet but also worth buying and owning on Blu-ray.  “The Lion King: Diamond Edition” is highly recommended! 

Image courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Lion King: Diamond Edition

FILM YEAR OF RELEASE: 1994

DURATION: 88 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,French and Spanish 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home theater Mix (DEHT), Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (for General Audiences)

Release Date: October 4, 2011

Directed by Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, Linda Woolverton

Story Supervisor: Brenda Chapman

Story by Burny Mattison, Barry Johnson, Lorna Cook, Thom Enriquez, Andy Gaskill, Gary Trousdale, Jim Capobianco, Kevin Harkey, Jorgen Klubien, Chris Sanders, Tom Sito, Larry Leker, Joe Ranft, Rick Maki, Ed Gombert, Francis Glebas, Mark Kausler

Produced by Don Hahn

Executive Producer: Sarah McArthur, Thomas Schumacher

Associate Producer: Alice Dewey

Music by Hans Zimmer

Edited by Ivan Bilancio

Casting by Brian Chavanne

Production Design by Chris Sanders

Art Direction by Andy Gaskill

Featuring the following voice talent:

Matthew Broderick as Adult Simba

Niketa Calame as Young Nala

Jim Cummings as Ed

James Earl Jones as Mufasa

Nathan Lane as Timon

Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa

Jeremy Irons as Scar

Robert Guillaume as Rafiki

Rowan Atkinson as Zazu

Moira Kelly as Adult Nala

Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi

Zoe Leader as Sarafina – Nala’s Mother

Cheech Marin as Banzai

Madge Sinclair as Sarabi

Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Young Simba

An unforgettable story, breathtaking animation, beloved characters and award-winning music sets the stage for “The Lion King”, a Disney classic that follows the adventures of Simba, the feisty lion cub who “just can’t wait to be king.” But his envious Uncle Scar has plans for his own ascent to the throne, and he forces Simba’s exile from the kingdom. Alone and adrift, Simba soon joins the escapades of a hilarious meerkat named Timon and his warmhearted warthog pal, Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle of “Hakuna Matata,” Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realizes his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to claim his place in the “Circle of Life.” The all-star vocal talents—including Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Robert Guillaume, Cheech Marin and Moira Kelly—rip-roaring comedy and uplifting messages of courage, loyalty and hope make this a timeless tale for all ages. Produced by Don Hahn and directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff from a script by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton, “The Lion King” is rated G by the MPAA.

Disney has had many successes since Walt Disney created the popular animation studio back in 1923.

With the success of their live action films and their PIXAR 3D animated films, still to this day, “The Lion King”, the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics remains as the most successful animated film for the legendary company earning over $862 million in the box office (created with a budget of $45 million) and in terms of overall animation, it’s the fifth highest grossing animated film of all time and the #1 highest grossing film when it comes to hand-drawn animation.

The film earned two Academy awards plus a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” and is the #4 animated film on the American Film Institute’s “10 Top 10” list.

With a 3D version of the film released in Sept. 16, 2011, “The Lion King” makes its debut on Blu-ray (2-disc) courtesy of a Diamond Edition on Oct. 4, 2011, as well as a 3D Blu-ray (4-Disc) and also an 8-disc “The Lion King” trilogy box set.  The last version released was a “Platinum Edition” back in 2003 and as that was a pretty marvelous DVD release, let’s just say that fans of the film will find “The Lion King: Diamond Edition” to be a spectacular release on Blu-ray and definitely a title worth owning on Blu!

“The Lion King” begins with the wise mandrill Rafiki presenting lion King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi a newboard son named Simba.  While a joyous occasion in Pride Rock in Africa, not so pleased is King Mufasa’s dark brother, Scar as he wants the throne for himself.

We watch as Simba grows and his father Mufasa teaching him about being king and as the two go through the Pride Lands, King Mufasa tells his son that he should never go towards the shadowy place.  But as the two are enjoying father and son time, the King’s adviser Zazu informs the King that the evil hyenas have entered the Pride Lands.  So, Simba is left with Zazu while King Mufasa heads to his home to get rid of the hyenas.

Later, Scar tells young Simba that the “shadowy place” that his father had told him not to go to is actually an elephant graveyard.  Of course, this makes Simba more curious that he asks his friend Nala to join him.  Concerned about the two, Queen Sarabi ask Zazu to keep an eye on them but the two are able to get away from Zazu.

When both Simba and Nala arrive at the shadowy place, they are encountered by three evil hyenas named Shenzi, Bandazi and Ed.  The hyenas try to kill both of them but to their rescue is Simba’s brave father, the lion King Mufasa.

Mufasa tells Nala and Zazu to go back to Pride Rock and Mufasa is angered by his child for disobeying him by going to the shadowy place.  Mufasa also uses that time to tell Simba about the stars in the sky and how each star represents the great kings in the past and if he looks up to the stars, that they will guide him.

Later on, the jealous younger brother of Mufasa, Scar is working with the hyenas in their effort to take over Pride Lands.  Scar orders the hyenas to wait for his sign and that is to send a large number of wildebeest into a gorge but right in front of the gorge is where he will have young Simba sitting.

Immediately, Scar gives the signal for the Hyenas to scare the wildebeest and the stampede begins.  Scar tells Mufasa about it and immediately, the lion King goes to rescue his son Simba.  But while he successfully saves his son, Mufasa is caught in the gorge and while trying to escape up to a cliff, Mufasa asks his brother Scar for help to get him out of the gorge, instead… Scar throws his brother back into the gorge leading Mufasa to his death.

After the stampede is over, a young Simba finds his father dead.  His uncle Mufasa comes and tells Simba that it’s his fault that his father is dead and in order to not bring shame to the Pride Lands, he should run and leave, to never come back.

And as Simba goes to run and leave, Scar sends out the three evil hyena’s to kill Simba.  But Simba’s size helps him to escape.

Feeling ashamed that he is responsible for his father’s death, Simba leaves the Pride Lands and with Mufasa and Simba gone, Scar now becomes the new lion King.

Now alone by himself, young Simba leaves to the wasteland and encounters a meerkat named Timon and a warthog named Pumbaa.   The two become his very good friends and eventually takes care of him.

Fast forward years later and Simba is now an adult.  When Timon and Pumbaa are being hunted by a lioness, Simba comes to their rescue and encounters the lioness and finds out that she is his childhood friend, Nala.  Nala can’t believe that Simba is alive but quickly tells him that the animals in Pride Land are suffering because of Scar’s leadership as King.  Because Simba is the rightful heir as the next lion King, she tries to convince him to go back but for Simba, he refuses to return.  But when the wise mandrill Rafiki finds Simba, he summons the former lion King’s ghost, Mufasa tells his son that he must return to the Pride Lands and that he is his son, the true king and he must take his place as the king.

But will Simba have what it takes to become lion King?  And will he eventually return to the Pride Lands, especially when his Uncle Scar is the current ruler?

VIDEO:

Each time I have watched a Disney animated classic on Blu-ray, suffice to say, there are no disappointments.  Each release has been spectacular when it comes to picture quality and with the Blu-ray release of “The Lion King”, once again viewers are receiving a quality product as this film looks fantastic on Blu!

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), the first thing you will noticed about “The Lion King” is how vibrant the film is.  The colors are spectacular, the black levels are nice and deep and the colorful visuals are just breathtaking.  There were times where I was expecting to see some banding, especially the gradient pink to purples in the background but for the most part, the film looked awesome with no problems whatsoever.

The artistic backgrounds are well-detailed, the strokes around the characters show no edge enhancement (stair stepping), no artifacts, no banding, no spotting and this is the BEST looking version of the film to date.  “The Lion King” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

If you thought the video was awesome for “The Lion King”, let’s just say that the lossless audio soundtrack is just as magnificent! Presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix (DEHT) Language Tracks, I was quite amazed of how incredible this film sounds.  Not just during the stampede of the Wildebeast, Mufasa fighting the hyenas or Simba taking on Scar, the dialogue sequences are crystal clear, the music sounds fantastic and utilizes the surround channels but yes, the action sequences of the film are fantastic.

There are directional sound effects, awesome use of surround channels….quite simply, I have never heard “The Lion King” sound this immersive in my life.  I have had previous releases but this version of the film just blows all the past releases away.  For example, when the Hyena’s are talking the cavern, you can hear their echoes in the cavern quite well, the flickering of the fire.  You can also hear ambiance of what is around the Pride Lands, from the birds high over the land to other noises that sound great!

You also have to give renown composer Hans Zimmer (“Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The Dark Knight”, “Inception) a big hand because the musical score for “The Lion King” is fantastic!  The musical soundtrack for this film is incredible and Zimmer’s music really gives you the sense of emotion that is taking place on screen. An amazing soundtrack that I still enjoy today!

If you have the means to enjoy the 7.1 lossless soundtrack, you’re in for a treat!  “The Lion King” sounds magnificent in HD!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Lion King: Diamond Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Second Screen – While watching “The Lion King” you can sync to your computer or iPad an enjoy interactive games, storyboard and concept art.
  • Sing-Along Mode – Watch the film and sing-along to “The Lion King”.
  • Audio Commentary – In-depth audio commentary with co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff with producer Don Hahn.
  • Bloopers & Outtakes – (3:44) Outtakes from the film.
  • Pride of the Lion King – (38:06) Featuring the making of the film, the musical and reunion with the animators and a few of the voice cast reflecting on “The Lion King” and its popularity.
  • The Lion King A Memoir – Don Hahn – (19:40) Producer Don Hahn revisiting his home movies from 1994 with interviews with the crew and also revisiting of how the “The Lion King” came to be made as an animated film.
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes – (14:33) Featuring five deleted and alternate scenes with introductions by co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff.
  • The Morning Report: Extended Edition – (2:30) Featuring the extended edition of “The Morning Report” musical scene.
  • Interactive Art Gallery – Featuring hundreds of images from the Visual Development, Storboards, Layouts and Backgrounds.
  • Disney’s Virtual Vault: – (5:56) Featuring the following featurettes (note: These will need to be loaded online and buffered before playing):

– The Making of the Morning Report (3:09)

– Deleted Scenes – Bug Football (:52), Hakuna Matata (Warthog Rhapsody) – (2:24), Can You See The Love Tonight (1:44)

– Musical Journey – Musical Inspiration (3:48), Landmark Songwriting (3:13), Orechstral Color (4:23), Scoring Emotion (2:58), Music: African Influence (3:48), Full Circle (1:43), Circle of Life Music video feat. Sir Elton John (4:57)

– Stage Journey – Musical Origin (4:00), Screen to Stage (3:41), Musical Texture (3:26), Setting the Style (2:29), Leaps of Fantasy (3:46)

– Film Journey – Origin (5:54), Production Research Trip (2:21) Character Designs of each character, Art: African Influence (4:02), Reflections (5:10), Storyboard process (1:55), Computer Animation (4:26)

– Story Journey – Story Origins (4:36), Timeless Themes (3:51)

– Storyboard Film Comparison – (4:00), The Story Comes to Life (3:13), Early Concept: Timon and Pumbaa (2:58), Early Concept: Simba’s Presentation (4:01), Abandoned Scene: Warthog Rhapsody (4:18)

EXTRAS:

“The Lion King: Diamond Edition” comes with a slipcover case and a DVD version of the feature film. The DVD is presented in widescreen 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Enhanced Home Theater Mix (DEHT),  subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

Remember that moment when you heard the bullet shot in the Disney animated classic “Bambi”?  That depressing scene was possibly one of the strongest, most memorable animated scenes that I grew up with as a child and possibly one of the most shocking things that I would have never expected to see in a Disney film.

At the time, most animated films that I grew up with in the ’70s were pretty upbeat, but the film had one dark moment that eventually set the direction of the story for that coming-of-age film.

Created back in 1942, you would expect that within the many decades that have passed, that Disney would try to create something powerful to that same effect.

It took well over 50-years but there is no doubt that “The Lion King” accomplishes a similar efficacy but with much more emotion, jubilation but also an ending that many can feel happy about.

It’s all about having a fine balance of upbeat moments but also a realistic lesson for about the relationship between the parents and child and what happens when the parent is no longer there.   It’s a film about moving forward, making important decisions and to this day, this powerful, fun animated film is able to resonate so strongly with a viewer of any age and at any time.

“The Lion King” touched a lot of people and even to this day, I still have a friend who continues to sing “Hakuna Matata” and in 2011, fans and a new generation of movie viewers turned out to see “The Lion King 3D” film in theaters.  It’s a testament to how powerful this movie is and how entertaining it was and is, today.

I suppose now, for myself, I have grown up since I watched this film in theaters, have owned various versions on VHS and DVD and now all grown up, I have a family and have a young son and together we watched this film many times before and like Simba’s father Mufasa, as a father, you can only hope that your young one can grow up and not be afraid to take on challenges head on. As my wife feels that “Bambi” was her Disney animated film that she shared closely with my son, for me, it was “The Lion King” which is logical.

But there are somethings in life, situations where you want your child to learn from those experiences.  “The Lion King” is one of those films where children can learn, especially if a parent is to pass on…you want your child to be strong and know that they can accomplish big things even when their mother or father is no longer there.

And for me, that is what made “The Lion King” so special.

Of course, part of the efficacy of the film is its entertaining and memorable characters but also its dark antagonists.  Scar, the hyenas, they were the perfect villain for this animated film.

But also coming together along with the perfection of this film comes with the voice cast for the film.  James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Matthew Broderick as adult Simba, Jonathan Taylor Thomas as younger Simba, Moira Kelly as adult Nala, Nathan Lane as Timon, Ernie Sabella as Pumba and Jeremy Irons as Scar.    A lot of talent utilized in this film and it worked!

And yes, there are many reasons why “The Lion King” became a success.  Everything from the talent’s performance, animation, the painted backgrounds, the audio, the music, the direction and over all writing, “The Lion King” embodies what we love about Disney animated films.  They are fun!  They are entertaining family films but at the same time, they are films accessible to anyone of all ages.  “The Lion King” may have a bit of a darker edge compared to other Disney films but its a film that anyone can enjoy.

But as we are now in the generation of 3D animated films and everything CG-based, “The Lion King” still holds on to the title of being the biggest box office earning film that features animation that is hand-drawn.  And among the top 3D animated films that dominate the list of box office hits, “The Lion King” is still on that list.  For me, having grown up with hand-drawn animation, it kind of makes you happy that in today’s era of 3D animated films, you have one hand-drawn animated film that still maintains that spot of being the #1 earning hand-drawn animated film.

And since this movie was released back in 1994, we have seen a wonderful musical based on the animated film and now a 3D version of the film doing extremely well in the box office and now here we are with the Blu-ray release of “The Lion King” ala Diamond Edition.

There are three versions that will be sold on the day of release.  This 2-Disc edition with Blu-ray and DVD, the 3D Blu-ray which has 4-discs with the 3D Blu-ray and the Digital Download disc and the 8-disc box set version which has everything as the four disc version plus the discs that include the two direct-t0-video sequels and more.

And as the picture and audio quality was expected to be and is fantastic for this Blu-ray edition, this is one release that also comes with plenty of special features.  At first glance, I thought there were just a good number of special features but once I started watching them and I got to the Virtual Vault, there were dozens of more special features (note: your Blu-ray player must be connected online) and I was impressed.  You definitely are getting your money’s worth for this Blu-ray release!

Overall, many people have their own experience of watching the “Lion King” and have their reasoning of why they love the film and it’s no surprise that in the 90+ years that Walt Disney’ has released animated films, that “The Lion King” still remains strongly as a fan favorite.  It’s one of those films where the writers decided to tackle on real issues and to see how effective this film is in the long run and how strongly it resonates with the viewer, as well as how accessible it is for people of all ages.

But “The Lion King” is also one of those films that is not only fun to watch for entertainment sake, it’s a film that we can all learn from as well.

I’m quite confident that fans are going to love this Blu-ray release of “The Lion King: Diamond Edition”.

If you love and have enjoyed the film…”The Lion King: Diamond Edition” is highly recommended!






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