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Jon Favreau
Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen
Jeff Nathanson

After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

Box Office:
$260 million.
Opening Weekend
$191,770,759 on 4725 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 2.0
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/22/2019

• Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau
• Introduction from Director Jon Favreau
• Sing-Along Version
• “The Journey to The Lion King” Featurettes
• “More to Be Scene” Featurettes
• Music Videos
• “Protect the Pride” Featurette
• Song Selection
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Lion King [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 23, 2019)

Simba and pals return for 2019’s The Lion King, a remake of the 1994 classic. The story opens with a ceremony in which we meet Simba, the heir to the throne of feline sovereign Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones).

Mufasa’s shifty and self-pitying brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) skips the big event, which earns him Mufasa’s animosity. We quickly learn of Scar’s animosity toward little Simba (JD McCrary) since the youngster supplanted him as next in line for the throne.

Scar conspires with hyenas led by Shenzi (Florence Kasumba) to off both Mufasa and Simba so Scar can become king. This succeeds partially, as he stages a wildebeest stampede that kills Mufasa.

Scar convinces Simba that the lad caused his dad’s demise, and the youngster runs away from home. Scar sends the hyenas to finish him off, but when they see him scoot into desolate land, they decide he’s as good as dead anyway and don’t bother to act.

However, an unlikely duo of Timon the meerkat (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa the warthog (Seth Rogen) saves Simba. A pair of outcasts, they live for today and don’t worry about the past. Given his guilt, Simba embraces their “problem-free philosophy” and grows up with the guys in relative pleasure.

Ultimately, though, Simba learns he can’t escape his past. With Scar in charge of the pride, his homeland lies in ruins.

Childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) goes out to look for help and she encounters Simba (Donald Glover) when she attempts to chow down on Pumbaa. He learns what happened to the pridelands but resists her efforts to get him to return, even though romance blossoms between the pair.

Eventually, though, primate shaman Rafiki (John Kani) tracks down Simba and teaches him a little about his regal heritage and the way things work. This sets up the film’s climax in which he confronts Scar and attempts to fix matters.

Take a look at my review of the 1994 movie and you’ll find that this synopsis for the 2019 version offers a cut and paste. While you’ll find minor differences between the 1994 and 2019 films, they’re tremendously similar overall.

Really, the only changes come from some dialogue here and there as well as a few generally inconsequential character additions. For instance, whereas Timon and Pumbaa remained an isolated pair in 1994, they hang out with other animals in 2019.

Which seems like an odd deviation, as the 1994 movie accentuated the duo’s outcast status. The 2019 movie still tells us they’re not accepted by society, but then it shows them with an extended clan, which feels contradictory.

Beyond that and other superficial alterations, though, the 2019 movie duplicates the 1994 version on a near literal level. You can’t synch them if viewed side by side, but they’re still awfully similar.

This makes the rational viewer wonder why the 2019 Lion King exists. The answer is clearly “money, you fool”, and in that vein, the 2019 flick succeeded, as it snared a massive $1.6 billion worldwide at the box office.

While the 2019 King became a major financial hit, it fares much less well as a creative endeavor, at least in terms of story and emotional impact. As a technical project, though, King excels.

Often described as a live-action remake, that doesn’t fit the facts. The 2019 King attempts a photo-real animated affair, but outside of one quick shot, we see not a single living entity – animal or environmental – in this computer-generated work.

I can understand the “live-action” interpretation, though, because King offers such a realistic presentation of the animals and settings. We don’t quite believe that the filmmakers somehow taught real animals to sing and act, but the impression of believable creatures remains strong, as the characters feel utterly accurate.

Unfortunately, the photo-real side of King becomes a major impediment to its dramatic impact. Whereas the 1994 cel-animated characters could demonstrate human facial expressions, the CG photo-real critters of 2019 become restrained by the possible movements of actual animals.

Mostly. The filmmakers exaggerate expressions to a mild degree, so we occasionally see hints of smiles or wide eyes or the like.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of the shots keep the animals’ facial movements realistic, and that diminishes their impact. While the actors attempt to overcome the limitations, they can’t.

As for the cast, they seem mostly fine, but not a lot better. Across the board, the 1994 performances fare better, as too many of the 2019 performers underplay their roles.

A pleasant exception comes from Rogen’s Pumbaa. I’ve gotten more and more tired of Rogen in recent years, but he does well as the cheerful warthog. Rogen brings real warmth and heart to the part.

On the other hand, Eichner’s Timon turns into the worst of the bunch, as he makes our meerkat pal bitchy and annoying. Sure, there’s some of that inherent in the part, but Nathan Lane gave Timon enough charm to overcome potential drawbacks, whereas Eichner just makes him a snippy jerk.

John Oliver efficiently channels Rowan Atkinson as Mufasa’s right-paw bird Zazu, and Jones reprises his part well, but the rest of the actors seem lackluster. They simply fail to maintain the personalities necessary and they pale in comparison with their predecessors.

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the 2019 and 1994 versions. After all, I’ve lived with the 1994 film for 25 years, and I’ve seen it a good 10-12 times over that span. As hard as I try, I can’t view the 2019 with fresh eyes that’d truly allow me to assess it independently of its source.

That said, a better remake of Lion King would’ve tried harder to go its own way. A version that opted for a greater sense of deviation from the original might bring some unique qualities and stand on its own.

Given how closely the 2019 Lion King emulates the 1994 take, the filmmakers practically beg for comparisons. The 2019 movie dazzles as a technical achievement but it feels bland as a dramatic endeavor.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8888 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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