Hi everyone, Bryan here….
I remember when this came out in the cinema. I was totally and utterly infatuated with this film. I loved everything about ‘The Lion King’. I loved the characters, the animation, the music, and the story. It was unbelievable when I first saw it at the age of 13. Now I am almost 36, and the film still makes me feel like I did when I first saw it. I am still completely in awe of ‘The Lion King’. Six years after the big Diamond Edition of the Blu-ray, which included 3D, we now have the Signature Collection of the film, which has some new bonus features, along with some older ones. The audio and video presentations seem to be the same transfers.
This award winning film is excellent on all levels. It’s a story of good vs. evil, love, death, betrayal, friendship, responsibility, and innocence. The story flows smooth and the music is out of this world. I still sing constantly the music from this film. The more adult themes and heavier moments of the film have great emotional impact all the while being appropriate and understanding for all ages. And it is executed to perfection. I know people who are in their 30’s who still have not seen this movie and to that I say ‘You are a cinematic idiot and I feel sorry for you.” But for the rest of us, we all know by now the story of ‘The Lion King’.
A baby lion is destined to be king of the land, but his evil uncle Scar, prevents that with betrayal and murder. And baby Simba is forced to leave his home an never return. From here he has to grow and realize what he is destined to be. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when little Simba is in trouble with his father from exploring a place he was strictly told not to go venture off to. Simba follows behind his father Mufasa and little Simba steps into his father’s giant paw print. Simba looks at how small in comparison his paw is to his father’s and looks up at him as to say “I will never be the king you will be and I’m so far off from that”.
That single moment still chokes me up. What brilliant animation and storytelling in that single few seconds. WOW. The voice casting alone on the film is superb. I mean Nathan Lane as Timon is brilliant. That character might be one of the best sidekicks in cinema history. And of course James Earl Jones as Mufasa was mighty. He voiced that character so well. He was powerful and intimidating, but at the same time he was loving and your best friend. Jeremy Irons as Scar was so hauntingly epic and scary and conniving. Literally, everything about this film from the animation to the themes to the music is perfect. I love this film so much.
The Video: The Lion King comes with a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is pretty much the exact same transfer as the Diamond Edition, sans the 3D availability, which is completely fine with me. 2D animation is almost an extinct art form. Everything is in that 3D computer animated style now like Pixar, but before Toy Story, everything was in 2D animation, which just looks amazing here. Colors are bright, bold, and simply pop off screen. The delicious oranges, browns, greens, purples, and blues as the film opens with Simba’s ceremony is just takes your breath away.
Every color is well balanced and nuanced to give a realistic look to it. Colors are also boastful during the Hakuna Matata song with all the different colors of bugs that the three friends eat. During the nighttime sequences, there are varying shades of blues and blacks that look perfect as well. Detail in the animation is great with fantastic lines and layered art that makes the backgrounds look luscious and real. Black levels are deep and every bit of animation is fluid. The film looks incredible after all these years.
The Audio: This release comes with the same lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix as the Diamond edition, which means it’s amazing. The sound effects and ambient noises of all the animals walking around and making sounds engulf the surrounds and fully immerses you into the jungle. When bigger action beats hit, there is a great low end with deep bass. Mufasa’s roar and James Earl Jones’ deep voice pack the bass very well.
The songs are all classics and sound wonderful with each instrument and vocal coming through nicely, along with the relevant sound effects. Dialogue is always clear and easy to follow, with zero pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills. The atmospheric sounds are loud and robust with every dynamic noise of the environments sounding magnificent. What a wonderful audio presentation still.
New Extras for the Signature Edition:
Visualizing a Villain (HD, 3 Mins.) – Here’s a weird extra that has performance art and interpretive dance to Scar’s big song in the film.
The Recording Sessions (HD, 5 Mins.) – I enjoyed this extra, because we got to see the old vintage footage of all the actor’s doing their dialogue for the film.
Inside the Story Room (HD, 24 Mins.) – Here we have a neat look at how the animators and filmmakers used the storyboards to perfectly capture the animation and filmmaking of the movie.
Nathan and Matthew: The Extended Lion King Conversation (HD, 7 Mins.) – Made in 2011, this has Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Tom Schumacher talking about the film and what it means to them after all these years.
Old Extras Imported from other Releases:
Audio Commentary – Filmmakers Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers, and Don Hahn all talk about making the film, the cast, animating the movie, the story, and songs. A great listen.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (HD, 13 Mins.) – With filmmaker introductions, there is a number of deleted and alternate scenes that were scrapped.
The Morning Report (HD, 3 Mins.) – An animated sequence and song from the stage version of the movie.
Bloopers and Outtakes (HD, 4 Mins) – Animated bloopers of characters laughing and flubbing lines.
Song Selection – You can skip to any song of the film and watch it.
Sing-Along-Mode – The same as watching the movie, but subtitles come up with each song so you can, you know, sing along.
Classic Bonus Preview (HD, 1 Min.) – This tells you that if you download the Digital Copy from this release, you can access all of the other bonus content from other releases, which is over 3 hours.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
This Signature Edition of the Lion King is quite good. The video and audio presentations look to be the same as the Diamond Edition from 2011, but there are several new extras, as well as some vintage bonus features. In addition, there is a digital copy that comes with every bonus feature on every past release, which is over 3 hours of extras. The film itself is as always, phenomenal, and one of the best films ever made. This is worth the double-dip or triple dip, due to all the extras you receive.