Written by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton
Directed by Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Running Time: 1:28
I don't think I need to review The Lion King like every other film. It's 17 years old at this point so if you haven't seen it, then you're pretty much just not a fan of movies. Which makes me wonder what you're doing here in the first place. I haven't seen the movie in years because for some reason I never got the last DVD release, so my only copy before now was on VHS. And as I threw out my VCR a couple of years ago... well let's just say I'm happy they released the Blu-ray. The movie still holds up remarkably well after all these years, especially on Blu-ray. I can still remember going to see this in theaters on opening day back in June of 1994. It was in East Hartford, CT and I sat by myself in the back of the theater because I was a 20-something guy in a theater full of kids and their parents. I got more than a few looks from people, but I didn't care. I was a massive Disney fan back then, and coming off the triple play of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast (still my most watched movie ever) and Aladdin, the anticipation for The Lion King was tremendous. And as the lights went down and the movie started with the African chants and the beautiful orange color of the rising sun, I got goosebumps. And you know what, today, after not seeing the movie for years, the opening sequence still gives me goosebumps. Was there a better opening in movie history? And on Blu-ray the colors just pop right off the screen. The version I have isn't in 3D (as I refuse to spend more money on a 3D TV and Blu-ray player) but there are moments that still felt like I was right in the middle of the movie. Dare I say, the opening sequence was as close to animation perfection as you're going to get.
I won't go into the story and instead focus on some of the extras you get with the 2-Disc Blu-ray/Combo. There's about 10-12 minutes of deleted scenes (storyboards) that have never been shown on DVD before. I've always found it hard to watch storyboards in the middle of an animated film, but I guess it gets the point across. There's a blooper reel, which was kind of funny since it was fully animated. There are a handful of documentaries, including Pride of the Lion King which was very interesting and gives you an in-depth look into how the movie came to be. We get to meet the directors, the animators and Jeffrey Katzenberg, which was a little surprising to me. What I think struck me the most was that at the time they were putting together the movie, it appeared that the studio was much more interested in Pocahontas. I bet the people that chose to work on that are probably kicking themselves, seeing as how that movie didn't do so well, and The Lion King is one of the highest grossing films of all-time. There is also this cool thing called Disney Second Screen, which works with your laptop or IPad (sadly, it doesn't work with Android tablets) where you sync up the app with the movie and get image galleries and other interesting tidbits during the movie, on your second devise.
Disney is the master of creating demand for their older products by constantly putting them in the Disney vault, hence why I don't have The Lion King on DVD - I somehow missed my opportunity. So I can't say if this is a step up from the DVD as far as the extras go. There are definitely some on here that I know were on the DVD (the extra song 'The Morning Report' for instance). If you don't own this on DVD then you have to buy it now because as the recent theatrical release proved, there is an entire new generation of kids that will love it. I plan on buying copies for a couple of people, including my little nephew even though he's only 6-weeks old and won't watch this for a few years. But as soon as he's old enough, I want him to be able to enjoy the movie like I have for the last 17 years. This is simply one of those movies that you have to own.