The Lion King appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an excellent presentation.
Overall sharpness worked well. Virtually no softness materialized, so the movie appeared accurate and concise.
I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge enhancement, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.
The colors of King tended toward amber to suit the African setting, with occasional brighter hues. Within stylistic choices, the tones seemed well-rendered.
Blacks seemed dark and right, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. Across the board, this became a terrific image.
Via various animal antics and natural settings, the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix displayed lively elements. Action-ish moments fared best, as those showed movement and range.
Good stereo music and general ambience added to the package as well. This meant we got a nice sense of place with nice impact from the more dynamic sequences.
Audio quality satisfied. Music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy, with strong low-end during those “action” moments.
Speech appeared concise and crisp. All of this created an engaging mix that suited the film.
Note that like some Disney releases, this one came with audio mastered at a level lower than other studios’ offerings. I actually thought Disney had improved in that regard, as their last few titles didn’t force me to jack up my usual volume level, but Lion King needed a small boost to reach desired auditory impact.
The disc includes a mix of extras, and we start with an audio commentary from director Jon Favreau. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the 1994 film and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, photography and animation, music, and related domains.
Although Favreau offers a reasonable array of notes, he ladles out a whole lot of happy talk as well, a factor that ensures we don’t get nearly as much information as we should. While this becomes a decent chat, it lacks the requisite level of insight and feels average.
We can view the movie with an optional Introduction from Director Jon Favreau. In this one-minute, 14-second clip, Favreau offers a few minor notes like the film’s single live-action shot. It’s inoffensive but forgettable.
Alongside the film, we can access a Sing-Along version. As expected, this offers lyrics onscreen for the various songs. It does nothing for me but someone must like these sing-alongs or Disney wouldn’t continue to include them.
Under The Journey to The Lion King, we find three featurettes: “The Music” (13:36), “The Magic” (21:01) and “The Timeless Tale” (18:47). Across these, we hear from Favreau, producers Karen Gilchrist and Jeffrey Silver, executive producers Tom Peitzman and Thomas Schumacher, composer Hans Zimmer, songwriter Elton John, co-producer John Bartnicki, head of story David Lowery, production designer James Chinlund, head of research Noessa Higa, visual effects supervisor Robert Legato, director of photography Caleb Deschanel, virtual production supervisor Ben Grossman, animation supervisor Andrew R. Jones, and actors JD McCrary, Shahadu Wright Joseph, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Donald Glover, Beyonce, Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, Bobby Lewis, Chiwetel Ojiofor, Alfre Woodard, and John Oliver.
The programs cover songs and score, cast and performances, art, animation and technical areas, set/location design, photography, and the challenge of the original film’s legacy.
Expect a lot of happy talk here, especially in the largely puffy “Timeless Tale”. Still, the first two come with some useful notes, and I love the footage from the recording studio, especially when we see actors improvise lines.
Three songs become the focus of More to Be Scene, as it looks at “Circle of Life” (4:08), “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” (3:43) and “Hakuna Matata” (2:39).
With each of these, we see the sequences at various stages of completion and also get some audio recording footage. It becomes a fun way to the different processes.
Two Music Videos follow: Beyonce’s “Spirit” and Elton John’s “Never Too Late”. In “Spirit”, we get some movie shots mixed with Bey as she emotes in a mix of Lion King-esque settings. It’s better than most of the “videos for film songs” genre but it leaves me unenthused.
As for “Late”, that video goes lazy and just borrows snippets from the movie. The song is mediocre Elton as well.
With Song Selection, viewers can leap to any of the movie’s eight musical performances. Like the “Sing-Along”, I have no use for it, but again, someone must dig it.
Finally, Protect the Pride spans three minutes, two seconds and features Favreau, Lion Recovery Fund’s Peter Lindsey, National Geographic explorers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Wildlife Conservation Society’s Dr. Simon Nampindo, Ruaha Carnivore Project’s Dr. Amy Dickman, Zambian Carnivore Programme’s Thandiwe Mweetwa, Disney Conservation Fund’s Claire Martin, African Parks’ Andrea Heydlauff, African People & Wildlife’s Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, Ewaso Lions’ Resson Kantai Duff and Niassa Lion Project’s Dr. Colleen Begg.
This PSA tells us about attempts to assist the lion population. It’s well-meaning.
The disc opens with ads for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Aladdin (2019) and Mulan (2020). No trailer for Lion King appears here.
As a technical achievement, The Lion King impresses. As a film, it doesn’t live up to its predecessor. The Blu-ray boasts stunning visuals as well as very good audio and a mix of supplements. Too literal a remake for my liking, the 2019 Lion King lacks the original’s verve and charm.