Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Lion King, Diamond Edition on Blu-ray

Over the years there have been a handful of animated movies that have moved from family fare to classic film. Many of those come from the Disney Library and the new release of The Lion King on Blu-ray DVD on the tails of the recent rerelease of theatrical release and a #1 weekly box office rating shows this film is a timeless classic for a reason; it resonates and endures, not just for a little while, but a lifetime.

Seeing The Lion King in theaters back when it was originally released was a memory I will likely never forget. It was 1994 and I took my young daughter and then very young son to see the movie. My daughter, while older was entertained, and my son, who was around 3 years of age, was also glued to the screen, on top of all of that was the family experience, my wife and I also enjoyed the movie. It had great animation for the children, along with memorable characters but it also had an enjoyable story line for the adults.

It is hard to imagine that animation technology and CGI have evolved as much as it has since the release of the film in 1994. At the time, The Lion King presented state of the art animation, possibly equaled by none. The reality of that quality is no better displayed than how the animation holds up today, especially with the Blu-ray format. The images are crisp, clear, and bright. Another benefit is the high quality of sound on the Blu-ray format. The voice acting of the actors playing their respective parts such as Matthew Broderick (adult Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Nathan Lane (Timon) and Jeremy Irons as Scar, just to name a few, still stands out. Some of the voice acting and animation to match the characters is among the best Disney has ever offered. On top of all of this is the score and story which is still outstanding.

The premise of the film is one that most people likely already know. The story takes place in Africa where a pride of lions and the animal kingdom is led by Mufasa. Musfasa has a jealous brother named Scar. Scar is deceitful and seeks to inherit the kingdom by any means necessary. As fate has it, Mufasa has a son, named Simba who will inherit the kingdom. Simba in his innocence listens to his uncle and this unfortunately leads to the death of Mufasa. Scar talks Simba into going into the dark lands where he will escape the punishment of the animal kingdom for what he thinks is his own role in his father’s death. While there, he comes across two friends, a warthog named Pumba and a meerkat named Timon, (Ernie Sabella.) These three embark on a journey of growing up and in the process learning to do what is right.

In the journey of Simba, we see him grow up and become a lion worthy to be king. He recognizes the need to make things right and to follow his call in life. One of the unique attributes of a Disney film is that while targeting children, with animation and fun characters, there is a willingness to not only show the good, but to also show the dark side of life, including revenge, difficulty, and even ultimately, death. It is in their willingness to show these things that the adult viewer can relate to the characters and story. Simba is memorable for a reason; we grow with him and ultimately understand his journey into adulthood. There are difficulties in life, but there is also a need to overcome.

There is a reason The Lion King is the best selling home entertainment release of all time, it delivers with a story that is eternal. The story is based in part on stories from the Bible, including Moses and Joseph, we see the concepts of being outcast, and then the return where justice is served and leadership qualities are developed. In real life my faith tells me to persevere. It is a concept Simba eventually learns, he recognizes the reality of a higher power in his life and the need to submit to the calling on his life. While there has been tragedy, it is through the concept of perseverance that strength is developed and things of value accomplished. The need to hear these themes, to be reminded of them is a likely reason parents took their children to see it in theaters to the extent they did during its recent release. We recognize that in a hopeless world, we need leaders who persevere. These characters were created with some of the stories from the Bible in mind. It hopefully will have some going back to the original stories to learn about characters like Moses, Joseph, and even Jesus, who all persevered to the point of doing something of value not just for their families, but the world around them. In those lessons of discovering our gifts and talents, we can be inspired to find the hope we need to persevere in our own lives.

I loved The Lion King in 1994 when it was released, I still love it. The transfer quality onto Blu-ray is outstanding and Disney again provides so many quality special features they can’t all be mentioned. For the film buff like me, one will be very satisfied with the product. The only drawback I can think of is this product is going to only be available for a limited time. For those who have followed Disney, they know that when Disney says a limited time, they mean it. I suspect it will be hard to find this product during the Holidays, but I could be wrong. If a fan of the movie, and wanting to give it as a gift this year, I wouldn’t take the chance, Buy it right away, it is worth every penny it costs. I reviewed the Diamond Edition which includes not only the Blu-ray version but also a regular DVD. There are a variety of packages available, all worth the cost.

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