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Blu-ray Review: The Lion King (2019)

October 24, 2019

By John Corrado

It’s already made over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, and currently ranks as the second highest grossing movie of the year after Avengers: Endgame. Now Disney’s remake of The Lion King is available to own on Blu-ray as of this week.

While I did enjoy this updated retelling of The Lion King when I saw it in theatres, it also feels mostly like a direct copy of the original film. Yes, this remake features stunning, photorealistic visuals and an excellent, all-star voice cast, but it also doesn’t quite live up to its traditionally animated 1994 counterpart. For more on the film itself, you can read my full review right here.

The Blu-ray comes with a good selection of bonus features, starting with a commentary track featuring director Jon Favreau and a short introduction by him that you have the option of watching before the film, in which he talks about the one live action shot in the entire movie. This is followed by the three-part feature The Journey to The Lion King, which is close to an hour in total and offers an engaging and surprisingly in-depth look at various aspects of the film’s production.

The first segment, The Music, focuses on how original composer Hans Zimmer worked closely with executive music producer Pharrell Williams and the new cast, which includes established singers like Donald Glover and Beyoncé as well as non-singers like Seth Rogen, to update Elton John’s iconic songs from the original film. The second segment, The Magic, focuses on the actual making of the film itself, from filming the actors interacting with each other on sound stages while recording their lines, to the use of virtual reality headsets and physical camera rigs to set up the shots, allowing the framing and digital camerawork to appear more like that of a live action movie. And the third segment, The Timeless Tale, looks at how they updated the original film for this modern retelling.

Next up, under the tab labelled More To Be Scene, we get nicely edited progression reels of three key song sequences (“Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and “Hakuna Matata”), showing the various stages of evolution that each scene went through from storyboard to finished film. Last but not least, the disc includes music videos for Beyoncé’s “Spirit” and Elton John’s “Never Too Late,” the pair of new songs that were written for the film.

For those who are so inclined, there is also an option to watch the film in sing-along mode. While I don’t think this version of The Lion King will have the same replay value as its superior 1994 counterpart, the film is spectacular on a visual level, and the various behind the scenes footage included on this disc does an excellent job of showing the amount of work that went into it.

The Lion King is a Walt Disney Home Entertainment release. It’s 118 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: October 22nd, 2019

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