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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Bradley Raymond
Cast:
Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Shaun Flemming, Julie Kavner, Jerry Stiller, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin
Writing Credits:
Roger Allers, Irene Mecchi, Tom Rogers, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Tagline:
The Circle Of Life Will Never Be The Same.

Synopsis:
Hilarity reigns in this all-new motion picture starring Timon and his windy pal Pumbaa - the greatest unsung heroes of the savanna! Featuring the original voice cast and music by Elton John and Tim Rice, The Lion King 1 1/2 takes you waaaaaaay back to the beginning before Simba's tale began ... and beyond!

In this all-new comedy-adventure, Timon and Pumbaa reveal where they came from, how they met, and why some of the greatest moments in The Lion King look a little different from their perspective. Tag along as they search for their dream home, raise a rambumnctious young lion cub and help Simba save the Serengeti.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/6/2012

Bonus:
• “Timon and Pumbaa’s Vacation Safari”
• Deleted Scenes
• “Timon: Behind the Legend” Featurette
• “Before the Beginning: The Making of The Lion King 1 ½ Featurette
• Raven “Grazing in the Grass” Music Video
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Lion King 1 1/2 [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 20, 2012)

No one will mistake 2004’s The Lion King 1 ½ for classic Disney fare, but it seems decidedly superior when compared to the vast majority of the studio’s direct-to-video (DTV) material.

King opens with a scene of Timon the meerkat (voiced by Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa the warthog (Ernie Sabella) as they watch the original flick. They decide to tell us their own backstory, so we go back to see Timon’s roots. We meet his meerkat clan, which includes his Ma (Julie Kavner) and Uncle Max (Jerry Stiller). Though the former sticks up for Timon, the latter thinks of him as a useless screw-up, and the rest of the meerkats feel the same way. Timon dreams of escape to someplace where he doesn’t have to live in tunnels and hide, but Ma tries to convince him to try harder to fit in with the group.

When Timon messes us another tunnel dig, he gets sentry duty to watch for hyenas. The easily distractible rodent instead breaks into song and misses hyenas Shenzi (Whoopi Goldberg), Banzai(Cheech Marin) and Ed (Jim Cummings) until they come right up to him. Timon and the other meerkats narrowly escape death, but since he let down the clan, all but Ma turn their backs on him.

Given the circumstances, she provides her blessings and Timon strikes out on his own. As he wanders, he encounters a mystical simian named Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) who espouses the philosophy of “Hakuna Matata”. He tells Timon to “see beyond what you see”, which the literal-minded meerkat takes in a concrete way. When he gazes into the distance, he espies Pride Rock and chooses it as his destination.

Along the way he runs into Pumbaa. Timon wants the warthog to accompany him essentially as a bodyguard to repel dangers. Desperate for a friend, Pumbaa agrees, and they stumble toward their destination. Bizarrely, Timon settles on the inhospitable Elephant’s Graveyard as their home, but they end up getting literally swept away from the site. They end up at a much nicer place that they build into their dream home.

Up to now, parts of the flick occasionally intersected with the original Lion King, but from here they connect more closely. Soon young Simba arrives, and the unlikely pair raise him as their kid. We watch Simba grow up and eventually see the arrival of lioness Nala (Moira Kelly). The movie continues through the same events that occurred in the first film and ends at the same point, but it does so from Timon’s perspective.

In a nutshell, that’s the flick’s gimmick, and it’s not a bad one. Actually, it’s fairly clever and offers some potential fun. There’s something oddly compelling about seeing a familiar story from a different point of view; it almost makes it feel like we’re watching an “alternate angle” take on the first flick.

Sometimes 1 ½ tries a little too hard to have fun with these connections as it reveals the “truth” behind some of the first movie’s iconic events. For example, the various animals didn’t bow during the presentation of baby Simba out of respect; no, they ducked their heads to avoid the stench when Pumbaa unleashed a killer fart. I don’t mind the demythologizing aspects, though this does mildly detract from the grandeur of the original scene. Instead, I mainly don’t like it because it’s a fairly lame joke.

I could have lived without so many of that sort of moment, though they occasionally add a saucy irreverence to 1 ½. It seems clear it holds no parts of the first flick as untouchable and sacred. Pretty much every aspect of the original comes up for gentle lampooning, and this allows 1 ½ to enjoy some fun elements.

This even extends to the presentation of the material. We watch 1 ½ as Timon and Pumbaa watch it. This means we occasionally cut to MST3K style shots of the pair in their home theater. This tone works only sporadically, but it certainly gives the flick an air that seems unique among Disney fare. Heck, this piece is tougher on the studio’s tendencies than the allegedly incisive Shrek.

Not that it strays too far from home base. Indeed, the movie includes the usual morals. Here it tells us to follow our own path to happiness and that friends stick together. Happily, it doesn’t perseverate on these topics, as it prefers to toss out the wacky hijinks.

Most of the original cast returns for 1 ½. Of course, Jonathan Taylor Thomas no longer plays young Simba; since he was 22 when it was created, he was way too old to portray a little one. Otherwise, only Rowan Atkinson fails to rematerialize; instead, Edward Hibbert voices Zazu.

Ultimately, The Lion King 1 ½ won’t replace the original, but it stands as one of the better Disney direct to video efforts. The movie seems consistently entertaining and irreverent, and this allows it to create its own identity. Too many DTV flicks just remake the originals; while 1 ½ indeed follows many of the same events, its unique take on the elements means that it doesn’t seem like a bland rehash. Lion King fans will likely get a kick out of this fun flick.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A+/Audio B/ Bonus C-

The Lion King 1 ½ appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a stunning image.

Sharpness seemed very positive, as at all times, the movie remained detailed and concise. No significant examples of softness or ill-defined images appeared in this tight and firm presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects appeared absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, I witnessed none, as the movie looked clean and fresh from start to finish.

The jungle setting of King meant that it boasted a vivid and varied palette, and the DVD presented those hues well. The colors consistently looked solid. From the lush landscapes to the animals to all other elements, the hues came across as lively and tight. Black levels looked solid, with appropriately dark and rich material. Low-light images were concisely displayed and tight, with no excessive opacity. Overall, Lion King 1 ½ gave us a stellar presentation.

The Blu-ray came with a generally positive DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Though oriented toward the front, the soundfield appeared pretty engaging and active. The forward speakers offered very good placement and localization. Effects cropped up in logical spots and meshed together well, with some nice movement and panning. A fair amount of speech came from the side speakers, and those bits were well placed. Music showed good stereo imaging as well, and the forward channels generally presented a fine soundscape.

The surrounds didn’t offer a tremendous amount of material, but they bolstered the presentation well. The rear speakers kicked in with good ambience and provided a strong feeling of atmosphere. Occasional examples of more surround specific information occurred, and those created a fine sense of the setting. The rears weren’t terribly involving, but they added enough to the mix to make them useful.

In general, audio quality appeared good. Speech sounded distinctive and concise, with no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects appeared dynamic and lively. They showed full, rich tones, and presented loud and firm bass response. Music sounded decent but was a little thick. Midrange dominated the score and songs, and they didn’t offer the depth and range I expected. To be sure, the music seemed reasonably fine; those elements simply lacked the vividness and clarity they should have displayed. Nonetheless, the soundtracks of Lion King 1 1/2 were fairly positive and both merited “B” grades.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the 2004 DVD release? Audio was essentially a wash; the lossless DTS-HD mix might’ve been a bit more robust, but it still came with the same music-related drawbacks of the DVD. On the other hand, the visuals delivered a notable upgrade, mostly due to improved definition and color reproduction. The Blu-ray boasted amazing sharpness – even the widest shots remained tight – and the hues were warmer and fuller than the DVD. The latter still looked fine for the format, but it couldn’t match up with this top-notch image.

The Blu-ray replicates some of the DVD’s extras – but omits quite a few – and adds one new one: Timon and Pumbaa’s Vacation Safari. It runs four minutes, 57 seconds and provides a character-narrated reel. We see footage of African animals while Timon and Pumbaa tell us about them and joke. Though it never becomes a deep featurette, it proves to be moderately amusing and informative.

Everything else comes from the original DVD, and we locate seven Deleted Scenes. These last a total of 11 minutes, 44 seconds. Introduced by producer George Mendoza and director Bradley Raymond, they explain that what we’ll see don’t really comprise true deleted scenes; instead, they present storyreels without actual animation. They also talk about each sequence and let us know why the bits failed to make the final cut. The scenes generally seem interesting to see, and the filmmakers’ comments add good insight into their decision.

Timon: Behind the Legend runs for four minutes, four seconds as it presents a faux documentary about our favorite meerkat. Hosted by Peter Graves, this gives us a quick biography of the wisecracking rodent. It’s a short but fun little piece.

Before the Beginning: The Making of Lion King 1 ½ fills 15 minutes, two seconds as it gives us some actual information about the creation of the flick. It features the standard mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes shots, and interviews. We hear from Mendoza, Raymond, actors Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Cheech Marin, associate producer Michael Paxton, unit director Ryan O’Loughlin, assistant director Pieter Lommerse, clean-up artist Nicole Zarubin, leads animator Bob Baxter, Lianne Hughes and Alexs Stadermann, CG animator DJ Nicke, production color stylist Wes Champion, and background supervisor Beverley McNamara. They go some of the basics related to the flick’s creation such as animation continuity with the first flick and the new one’s music. Occasionally tongue in cheek, it seems like a rudimentary program, but a few interesting stories appear along the way.

Finally, we get a music video for “Grazing in the Grass” by Raven. Mostly she lip-synchs and struts around the video set as we also see clips from the movie. Since all the “crewmembers” join in, this seems a little more creative than most videos of its ilk, but it’s not anything special.

The disc opens with ads for DisneyNature: Chimpanzee and Cinderella. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Finding Nemo, the Lion King stage production, Disney Parks, Secret of the Wings and Treasure Buddies.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of 1 ½. This includes one extra – the “Vacation Safari” featurette – and that’s it. I guess it’s nice if you want a portable copy of the film, but it’s too bad that Disney didn’t simply toss in the old SE DVD so we’d get all of its bonus materials.

It never equals the heights of the original, but The Lion King 1 ½ nonetheless offers one of Disney’s strongest direct to video pieces. The movie seems light and irreverent as it demythologizes the original in a frisky and clever way. The Blu-ray presents excellent picture with generally good audio and a minor roster of supplements. With a list price of nearly $40, this release seems rather pricey for what you get, but at least it brings us a high-quality reproduction of an enjoyable flick.

To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of THE LION KING 1 1/2

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main