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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2011

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"The Lion King 3D" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

The story opens with the birth of lion Simba (Broderick), heir to the throne of the Pride Lands.  His father Mufasa (Jones) has ruled successfully keeping the delicate balance between the animal races from erupting into conflict.  Secretly though, Mufasa’s brother, Scar (Irons), covets the throne and plots to kill the king.  He lures Simba into a trap and his father is killed when he comes to rescue him from a dangerous stampede.  Feeling the accident was his fault, Simba runs from the Pride Lands in shame.  He grows up with two unlikely companions, a warthog and a meerkat.  They teach him not to worry about the past and about things he can’t change.

Fast forward and Simba is now a young adult lion.  By chance he meets his former friend Nala who had assumed he was dead.  She tells him of the horrible conditions in Pride Land where hyenas have taken over and eaten all the food.  Samba decides to return and reclaim the throne.  In an epic battle, Scar is defeated, devoured by the hyenas and Simba takes his rightful place as king.  The ending is a happy one as peace and fruitfulness return to the land.

Specifications

  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • 1994, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 28 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Codec: MVC
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons and James Earl Jones
  • Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I hadn’t seen this film in many years so it was fun to remember all the great music and the feel-good story as I watched.  I do prefer the Disney animation movies based on traditional fairy tales but Lion King holds its own against other classic stories.  The acting and singing are first-rate; just what you’d expect from the icon of family entertainment.  All the important elements are there: life, death, romance, good vs. evil and of course, musical numbers that transcend the film itself.

This was my first experience with a drawn-animation movie in 3D.  It’s very different from the CGI-rendered titles shown at every CEDIA demo.  Rather than looking three-dimensional, objects and backgrounds exist and move on different planes from front to back.  It’s a neat effect and I enjoyed it.  I won’t say it’s better or worse than watching in 2D, only different.  I was fortunate to be able to view this on a 3D projector (Optoma HD33, review forthcoming) which is far better than any flat panel for sheer wow factor.  Disney did an excellent job with the 3D conversion making the film look great without going over the top.  This is a well done and highly recommended addition to anyone’s 3D Blu-ray library.

Technical

There is no animation quite like Disney’s and this 3D Blu-ray presents the image in stunning fashion.  Color is absolutely perfect and detail is the best I’ve ever seen in a film like this.  The 3D effect only enhances; it never distracts.  Motion is about as fluid as it can be given that everything is hand-drawn.  Backgrounds have a textured look that I found very pleasing.  Contrast looks great with plenty of punch and depth even in darker scenes.

The DTS-HD Master audio track is presented here in 7.1.  The dialog sounds clean and clear and is perfectly placed on the screen.  Your surrounds and sub will have plenty to do with effects like stampeding elephants and flying objects.  And the music sounds simply fantastic.  It’s a mix of full orchestra and pit band performing the score by legendary film composer Hans Zimmer.  You’re sure to walk away with your toes tapping.

Extras

I received the Diamond Edition which includes 3D and 2D Blu-rays, a DVD version and a digital copy.  Bonus features are about two hours’ worth and include documentaries, audio commentary, alternate and deleted scenes, a gag reel and links to online content.  There is also a large collection of trailers for other Disney movies.