Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase! Now thatThe Lion King: Diamond Edition is out on Blu-ray and DVD, you will probably be singing the classic film’s delightful tunes in the shower all over again. And if the first time around was any indication, the Disney merchandising mills and t-shirt printing presses will be primed and ready to ride the second wave of Lion King madness! Originally released in 1994, Disney’s The Lion King was met with enormous praise both critically and commercially. During its initial run and its subsequent re-releases, the film has made a whopping total of over $800 million worldwide. It is the highest grossing hand-drawn animated film of all time and its legacy is still being honored through a very successful show on Broadway, two sequels, piles of merchandise and a TV spinoff. It is obvious that The Lion King’s influence is strong and a recent 3D reissue coinciding with the release of the Blu-ray/DVD Diamond Edition reinforces that fact.
The story, which borrows heavily from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is about the power struggle between two anthropomorphic lions in a heavily animal-populated part of Africa known as Pride Rock. Lion king Mufasa rules the land and is respected and loved by all except by his envious brother Scar. Simba, Mufasa’s son and new heir to the throne has just been born and poses a major problem to Scar who, up until Simba was born was next in line to be ruler. After a series of unfortunate events, Simba runs away from home and his problems only to return years later as an adult to confront his past and make things right in Pride Rock.
There are so many truly amazing things one can discuss when talking about The Lion King. One of those amazing things is of course the music. The fun and catchy songs were written by Elton John and Tim Rice who would work together again in 1998’s musical Aida and again in 2000‘s animated feature The Road to El Dorado. Composer Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) wrote a lush and beautiful score which perfectly captures the spirit of Africa as well as the touching father-son dynamic. Lebo M helped arrange the African music and choir. Elton John and Tim Rice won an Academy Award for their tender love song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and Hans Zimmer won a well-deserved Oscar for his wonderful African-infused score.
Released during the Disney Renaissance of the late 1980s through the late 1990s, The Lion King is one of the last great hand-drawn animated feature films. The animation is stunning and the voice acting helps bring the characters to life. The heavy bass-voiced James Earl Jones (the Star Wars films) provides the voice of lion king Mufasa and I can’t think of a better actor to voice the role. Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement) and Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) voice child and adult Simba respectively and do fine jobs as well. Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) adds a touch of class to the film as the villainous Scar and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) and Ernie Sabella (Saved by the Bell) are a riot as Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and warthog duo who befriend Simba and help him deal with his issues.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 17 years, you’ve probably seen this landmark film. It is a cultural phenomenon and among the greatest animated films of all time. The Broadway musical along with the film’s soundtrack continue to generate revenue. TheDiamond Edition of The Lion King is now out in a terrific Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, so do yourself and your children or your future children a favor and pick up this classic film. It is an absolute treasure and will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for The Lion King: Diamond Edition, like all other special edition Disney sets are nothing short of spectacular. There are four never-before-seen deleted scenes, never-before-seen bloopers, a deleted song and The Morning Report: extended scene. There are also two featurettes: Pride of The Lion King and The Lion King: A Memoir – Don Hahn. There is a fun Disney sing along mode, an interactive Blu-ray gallery and lastly, there are classic DVD features.