Directors: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Voice actors: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Cummings, Whoopi Goldberg
Synopsis: Widely acknowledged as a pinnacle of quality for Disney in the realm of traditional 2D animation, the Lion King is a simple but inspirational tale of a lion cub Simba, running away from home mistakenly believing himself to be responsible for the death of his father, Mustafa, the king of Pride Rock. This leaves the door open for his evil uncle Scar to take the throne and lead the realm to ruin…
This is the second time that I have watched a traditional 2D animated film on BluRay, the other being Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. That first occasion shocked me, in the sense that the image to me seemed almost to crisp and bright, almost to the point of initially hurting the eyes a little bit. In a sense, I had been used to seeing these images as somewhat less clear, and it defined my perception of what a hand-animated film should be. It is far from a criticism, but it had me unsure whether there was any real need to upgrade these films to HD.
Perhaps I am used to seeing the HD now, or perhaps the upgrade I saw of Beauty and the Beast was poor, but in watching the Lion King on Bluray, my breath was absolutely taken away. The African landscape, which is almost a central character itself, is eye-popping;y beautiful and lovingly detailed. In addition, the more ambitious animations, such as a certain ghostly creature in the evening sky, remind you of part of the reason why The Lion King was such a classic film, almost from the moment of its release.
The story is just as memorable, at times uplifting, at times heartbreaking, as the audience would remember from the cinema. I have grown up since it was first released, so some of the elements, with a particular reference to the humour, that were directed at smaller children can grate a little bit. But the story in place here would not be out-of-place in classic Greek or Shakespearian theatre. A young prince believes himself responsible for his father’s death, so he flees the kingdom, learning a self-indulgent lifestyle in the process. However, the fault lay with his Uncle Scar all along, whose only desire was the throne. Our hero must learn who he is inside before he can face his demons. Put like that the Lion King is quite a universal story, and that for me is why the movie appeals to all audiences to this day.
Even if seeing it in high-definition is your only excuse, isn’t it time that you watched The Lion King again???
4 stars out of 5