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