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Blu-ray Review: The Lion King Diamond Edition
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The Lion King 4–Disc Blu–rayThe Lion King
4–Disc Blu–ray/3D/DVD/Digital Combo
2-Disc Blu–ray/DVD Combo
Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Starring: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jeremy Irons, Rowan Atkinson, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Madge Sinclair, Cheech Marin, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Jim Cummings, Niketa Calame
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release date: October 4, 2011

You can’t really review The Lion King. It’s one of the crown jewels of Disney’s line of timeless hand–drawn animated classics, and my own personal favorite of the bunch.

It’s jam–packed with a great cast of voice actors, gorgeous and vibrant environments, settings, and colors, and some of the most unforgettable songs any movie has ever had. Not to mention the wonderful story of a young lion cub who’s tricked into leaving the lands he was to one day become king of after an incident involving his stoic father–king and his deviously evil uncle.

So yes, The Lion King is impossible to review. I love it. You love it. Everyone loves it. OK—maybe there’s one or two folks out there who don’t love it, and they are indeed entitled to their opinion, but still…they’re wrong. Which brings us to what you’ll really want to know: how does the film look dancing on your screen in high definition, and what bonus features are included in this new release.

First of all, this is the 4–disc combo pack Disney always offers, and is the best deal you can get if you like to keep the door open for various types of movie–watching options. You’ll get it on Blu–ray and DVD, as well as the 3D version and a digital copy. You can still grab it on just Blu or DVD, but why not get them all for a little bit more? That’s how I look at it, anyway. And as you probably assumed, it looks stunning in crystal–clear Blu–ray format, making it a must own for anyone who’s a fan (everyone).

The movie just brought in another $100 million or so after being re–released in theaters in 3D, so it’s assumedly pretty neat to watch with the third dimension added. Sadly, however, I don’t have myself one of them fancy 3D TV setups yet and was unable to peek at that option.

Just the 4–disc combo pack with the movie is worth the $30 price tag alone, but it’s also overflowing with hours of special features to sweeten the pot for us all.

Special Features

First up is the very cool Disney Second Screen app. This allows you to synch up your iPad or computer (automatically, if you have the proper connections—it can also be done via audio or manually) and plays right along with the movie, showing concept art of the various scenes, fun facts about the movie, and other goodies to enhance a movie you likely know by heart already. It moves a little fast and said fun facts can race by before the fun fact is fully read. But never fear, you can wander back and revisit things you might miss and then re–establish the synchronization. You can also play the movie with audio commentary or a sing–a–long option for the songs.

Next up is the Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition section. This includes three featurettes:

* Pride of The Lion King — This incredible featurette is basically a giant discussion about the movie, how it all came together, and its importance today, by many of the people who made it happen.

It reunites co–directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff with their animation team, which consisted of a bunch of people who either loved working on animals or people who were getting their first shot because almost everyone at Disney wanted to work on Pocahontas, not The Lion King. The featurette also talks to many others who collaborated on the film and other versions of it, such as stars Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, as well as composer Hans Zimmer, lyricist Tim Rice, and Broadway director Julie Taymor.

* The Lion King: A Memoir – Don Han — Producer Don Han and many others involved in the movie talk about the very early stages of The Lion King, with a lot of old footage of pre–production and interviews and very bad ’90s clothing. It’s basically prequel to the above featurette.

* Deleted and Alternate Scenes — A collection of deleted and alternate scenes introduced by co–directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. A lot of times you’ll see a deleted scene and think you like it, but here you’ll usually agree that they were better left on the cutting room floor.

You’ll also find the Disney Virtual Vault, which offers up a bunch of smaller streaming special features, bloopers and outtakes, and plenty more to take a peek at, as well.

Trailer

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