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The Lion King Blu-ray Review - A Treasure with Interesting Extras

The 2019 photo-realistic The Lion King is well worth taking home.

Oct 21, 2019
The Lion King Blu-ray Review - A Treasure with Interesting Extras - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Oct 21, 2019
( Rating: 4 Star Rating)

Kidzworld reviews the 2019 The Lion King Blu-ray. Computer-generated animals lack the charm of the animated version but the voice actors, singers and extra features make this Blu-ray well worth collecting.

In The Lion King, we are back in the African Pride Lands, where Lion King Mufasa (voice of James Earl Jones) presents his heir cub Simba (voices of JD McCrary and Donald Glover) to his animal subjects. Mufasa’s bro Scar (voice of Chiwetel Ejiofor) plans to take the throne. After Mufasa’s suspicious death, Scar makes sure tiny Simba blames himself and drives the cub into exile. Simba’s friend/future love Nala (voices of Shahadi Wright Joseph and Beyoncé) finds and supports him. So do new, upbeat pals Timon (voice of Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (voice of Seth Rogan) who help Simba grow up, accept his destiny and become the true king.

Pride RockPride Rock

The Presentation

A pride of lions rule over the animal kingdom from their Pride Rock stronghold. King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi (voice of Alfre Woodard) have newborn son Simba presented to the assembled animals by shaman/advisor Rafiki the mandrill (John Kani). The kingdom rejoices as “The Circle of Life” plays. Scar misses the presentation ceremony and Mufasa calls him on it. He complains that he should have been king and Mufasa tells bird sidekick Zazu (voice of John Oliver) that he can’t banish Scar because he is his brother.

Scar wants to be kingScar wants to be king

Scar’s Plot

Simba is shown the Pride Lands by Mufasa who explains to him the responsibilities of kingship and the "circle of life", which connects all living things. Scar tells Simba he must learn to be a better hunter but warns him, in teasing fashion, to not go to the Elephant graveyard in the distance. Of course this only makes Simba want to go more. Simba takes best friend Nala and they travel to the forbidden lands. Simba can’t wait to be king. They are attacked by hyenas led by Shenzi (voice of Florence Kashumba) and Mufasa has to save them. Mufasa is angry that he was disobeyed but forgives Simba and tells him about the great kings of the past who watch over them from the stars.

Mufasa tells Simba about the circle of lifeMufasa tells Simba about the circle of life

Death Trap

Scar is angry at his hyena minions for not killing the two cubs he sent their way. He tells them Mufasa and Simba must die!  Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew, luring Simba into a canyon where the hyenas drive a huge herd of stampeding wildebeest. Simba is trapped and Mufasa is narrowly able to save Simba but can’t climb out of the canyon without Scar’s help. Of course Scar just sends him to his death. He then convinces grieving Simba that his dad’s death was his fault and he should run away and never return. He orders the hyenas to kill the cub but Simba escapes. Scar tells the other animals that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and takes over as king with his hyena buddies joining him.

Scar makes Simba feel guiltyScar makes Simba feel guilty

Starting Over

Tiny Simba collapses while crossing a desert and would give up on life but warthog Pumbaa and meerkat Timon find and rescue him reasoning that, when he grows up, he will owe and protect them. Simba learns to eat grubs and other slimy food rather than his fellow animals and takes on a “no worries” “Hakuna Matata” attitude, trying to forget his past. Meanwhile, life in the Pride Lands is horrible. The hyenas have eaten and destroyed everything. Animals are starving. The now adult Nala sneaks away looking for help. Being hungry, she pounces on Pumbaa and would eat him but Simba rescues his friend and realizes that the lioness is Nala.

Simba meets Timon and PumbaaSimba meets Timon and Pumbaa

He Lives!

A bit of Simba’s fur floats downstream and is finally found by Rafiki who can smell that it’s Simba’s. He is alive!  Nala and Simba reunite and fall in love (“Can you Feel the Love Tonight”) and she urges him to return home and be king. The Pride Lands are a wasteland under Scar's reign. Still feeling unworthy and guilty over his father's death, Simba refuses and goes off alone. Nala leaves. Rafiki finds Simba and tells him that Mufasa is alive…in the grown up Simba. Mufasa’s voice comes from the stars telling him to embrace his destiny and save the Pride Lands as king.

Adult Nala and Simba fall in loveAdult Nala and Simba fall in love

Homecoming

Zazu, Rafiki, Timon and Pumbaa follow Simba who reunites with Nala and they get past the hyena guards when Pumbaa and Timon bravely lure them away. At Pride Rock, Simba confronts Scar, who has hit Sarabi for not agreeing to be his Queen. Scar continues to intimidate Simba over his role in Mufasa's death and whispering, reveals to him that it was he who murdered Mufasa. Will Simba step up and defeat Scar and take his rightful place as king? Will he and Nala rule and continue the Circle of Life?

Can young Simba grow up to be king? Can young Simba grow up to be king?

Special Extra Features

As usual these Disney extras are informative, fun and entertaining.

Audio Commentary with Director introduction - Director Jon Favreau talks about the film being all created in computer except for one real filmed shot. He tells us about the old and new filmmaking group. In the commentary during the film he tells us more about how it was made, the voice actor performances and songs and how he didn’t want to change some things but added others. You will really learn about digital filmmaking. Great!

Director Jon Favreau (left) with digital filmmakersDirector Jon Favreau (left) with digital filmmakers
  • Sing Along with the Movie: The film plays as karaoke lyrics appear on screen for you to sing along with. Fun.
  • The Journey to The Lion King is a three-part “making of” featurette focusing on:
  • The Music – this is a really complete look at all of the music with the singers/actors recording it, joking etc. (Seth Rogan knew he couldn’t sing but tried his best as Pumbaa anyway). Fun!
  • The Magic –delves into voice work techniques and creating the detailed computer-generated animation, backgrounds and characters. Informative.
  • The Timeless Tale concentrates on the original animated film and trying to honor it in this new computer-animated version. 

Digital filmmakingDigital filmmaking
  • More to Be Scene gives us several key scenes as they progressed via storyboards and video from the recording sessions. Scenes are: "Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" and "Hakuna Matata".
  • Music Videos – we get "Spirit" Performed by Beyoncé and new song "Never too Late" by Elton John.
  • Song Selection – You can go right to the movie’s songs. "Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", "Be Prepared", "Hakuna Matata", "The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", "Spirit" and "Never Too Late".
  • Protect the Pride – Disney gave money to the Lion Recovery Fund to save more real lions! You can help.

Wrapping Up

You either like the photo-realistic look of the animals in the 2019 The Lion King or you prefer the old-school animated version. I think Timon and Pumbaa were more funny and winning in the older film. However, this version looks majestic. Mufasa’s death seems a bit too sad and shocking when portrayed by such life-like animals. Especially lacking in humor but thick with dark menace are the “bad guy” hyenas who were hilarious in the original film.

Voice cast of The Lion King (2019)Voice cast of The Lion King (2019)

The 2019 Scar as voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is more menacing and has less sleazy charm than the same character voiced by Jeremy Irons in the animated 1994 version but I liked the sleazy charm. 

Mufasa confronts ScarMufasa confronts Scar

The extras on this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital set provide the usual entertaining “How’d they do that”? Disney complete coverage. As we did for the movie in theaters, we award four stars.

The Lion King Blu-ray Rating: 4

 

Buy The Lion King set starting Tuesday October 22nd.

Roar in with a Comment!

Do you want to complete your home video Lion King set by adding this new film? Were you happier with the more “real”-looking animals or are you fond of the original animated ones? What is your favorite song? Share your feelings with a comment or note on your personal profile page.

 

By: Lynn Barker