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The Lion King
10.26.2011 By: Chris Bumbray
The Lion King order
Director:
Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Actors:
Matthew Broderick
James Earl Jones
Nathan Lane

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The tale of Simba the lion; king of the jungle. When his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is murdered by his evil brother Scar (Jeremy Irons), Simba goes into exile- returning years later to claim his rightful place on the throne.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Wow- I'd forgotten how good THE LION KING actually is. It's no accident that seventeen years after it's release, THE LION KING is still able to gross nearly $100 million in a re-release, as this is truly a timeless film that feels just as fresh now, as it did in '94.

I was twelve when this came out, and being a Disney film, I assumed it would be kids fare- nothing more. Cut to the video release six months later and yowza- I was hooked. I had the old clamshell tape of this, and I watched it pretty much every Sunday for about a year.

Watching it that much, at such a young age, the film just becomes a part of you, and THE LION KING holds up wonderfully. The whole "boy becomes his father" story is nearly biblical, giving the film an archetypal feel that puts it up there with the greats. Not to mention, it's entertaining as hell.

For me, the thing that gives THE LION KING it's heft is the father-son story between Mufasa and Simba. Mufasa's death in the hyena stampede is incredibly powerful for an animated film, and by crafting a family film that doesn't coddle kids- Disney really created something for the ages.
THE EXTRAS
Being one of their biggest catalogue titles, THE LION KING Blu-ray is predictably stacked. First off, we get the Disney Split Screen where you can synch the film to run with a second screen full of extras on your iPad, or iPhone.

Next is an audio commentary by directors Allan and Minkow, along with their producer Don Hahn. The most intriguing extra is the Pride of THE LION KING documentary, running forty minutues, and getting into the production history of the film- including feedback for Jeffrey Katzenberg, who founded Dreamworks Animation after his success here.

THE LION KING: A memoir is a retrospective by producer Don Han, that runs about twenty minutes. There also fifteen minutes of deleted scenes , and a newly created number called The Morning Report which comes from Julie Taymor's Broadway version of the play (a smash in it's own way). There's also a fun animated blooper reel , similar to the stuff you'd find on a Pixar disc. There's also a sing-along-mode , and finally, for the completist, the Virtual Vault archiving all the extras off the previous DVD (stacked in it's own right, and including the Elton John Music videos).
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE LION KING is truly a timeless film, and along with ALADDIN (due for a Blu-ray of it's own) it's a perfect example of the type of superlative work Disney was doing in their mid-nineties renaissance. It's movies like this that laid the groundwork for the storytelling found it the modern Pixar films, and if you haven't revisited this is a while, it's a must.
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