The Lion King – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

The Lion King

Now that The Lion King has graced screens a few months ago, people have a lot of opinions on the film. A lot of the criticism comes from the fact that people didn’t like how it was almost a shot for shot remake of the original. However, it’s perfectly alright that this remake is a shot for shot remake. There will always be people who criticize a remake. People were critical of Aladdin because it was different from the original. But with The Lion King, it pushes the envelope of how films are made (more on that in the special features section). It’s the same film with a fresh coat of paint. It’s something made with modern audiences in mind. I liked it in my initial review and upon a second viewing, I still like it.

Sure, the new scenes in the remake don’t add anything significant to the film. It’s not like Aladdin where much of the film is different. The scenes here are more like scenes that connect places together than actual additions. The film did, however, improve upon the roles of the lionesses by giving them more to do.

That being said, characters lack the same emotional impact as the original. That’s due to the fact that the eyes of these animals are lifeless. It’s so realistic that the animals have no eyebrow muscles (or eyebrow hair) to showcase all of the emotions of the character. All of the emotions are found through the mouth, eye blinking, and head movement. It’s a little weird but the characters are not totally devoid of emotion. It’s just not enough to have the same impact as the original.

The same goes for the actor’s line delivery as well. Certain emotional scenes lack any impact because there is no emotional weight behind the line delivery. When the lines are similar to the classic, you have expectations as to what the dialogue is supposed to sound like. Because the actors are trying to be different than the original actors, their performance suffers a bit. After all, how can you change perfection but still be perfect?

It’s almost impossible but some actors were able to pull it off. Donald Glover, Billy Eichner, and Seth Rogen were able to improve on the performances by Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella. Their friendship seems more natural than the original trio.

Overall, The Lion King is a technical marvel that pushes the boundaries of the way films are made. Yes, the live-action part is a bit tricky. Nevertheless, The Lion King still honors the strong core themes of the original that resonated with fans for twenty-five years.

Movie Rating: 4/5 atoms

Video

The Lion King - Chiwetel Ejiofor and James Earl Jones

The Lion King hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Much like the film itself, this is easily Disney’s most beautiful 4K release yet. The brightness is vibrant and the bright areas gleam off the screen. The black levels have some range to them as well. It ranges from a dark gray to an obsidian black. However, the black levels are consistent throughout. The dark grays occur during the night while then obsidian black happens during the daytime.

The colors are rich and natural-looking. It’s not vivid but the colors don’t look dull either. But the best thing about the video is the amount of clarity in the details. All the animal fur and jungle environments are clear right from the get-go. It’s also apparent in the desert scenes where the sand, rocks, and dust particles are clear. The best is that there is no softness around the edges. Everything is crisp. Overall, this is a fantastic video transfer.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio

The Lion King - Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen

The Lion King hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect The Lion King‘s Dolby Atmos track. Similar to the video, the audio mix is stellar. Now, there isn’t a lot of movement across the soundstage. However, the sound becomes dynamic when the scene calls for it. The same can be said about the overhead effects too. It only shows up when needed and when it shows up it’s distinct and audible.

Nevertheless, the film is still immersive. Right from the get-go, you can hear how immersive this mix is. The various jungle atmospherics livens up the entire soundstage. Not to mention, the sound object placement is accurate which leads to some immersive moments. The subwoofer adds weight to the overall mix.

When it comes to the film’s iconic music, Hans Zimmer’s score never sounded so alive. The various orchestral instruments dynamically play across each speaker channel. Unfortunately, the musical songs themselves aren’t as dynamic as Zimmer’s score. Overall, this is Disney’s best Atmos mix yet.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features

The Lion King - Beyoncé and Donald Glover

The Lion King‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc doesn’t have any special features on it. However, you can find the following special features on the Bonus Features Blu-ray disc:

  • The Journey to The Lion King
    • The Music
    • The Magic
    • The Timeless Tale
  • More to Be Scene
    • “Circle of Life”
    • “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”
    • “Hakuna Matata”
  • Music Videos
    • “Spirit” performed by Beyoncé
    • “Never Too Late” by Elton John
  • Song Selection
    • “Circle of Life”
    • “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”
    • “Be Prepared”
    • “Hakuna Matata”
    • “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
    • “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”
    • “Spirit”
    • “Never Too Late”
  • Protect the Pride

“The Journey to The Lion King” is one amazing in-depth featurette where you’ll be able to learn everything that you wanted to know about the making of the film. “The Music” takes an in-depth look at the history of the music from the original while also taking a look at the new renditions. Not only do you see a lot of the behind-the-scenes work but you’ll also learn a lot about the production as well.

The most important featurette in this series is “The Magic”. “The Magic” gives us an inside look at all of the CG work done for the film. It also lets us see where the live-action aspect comes into play too. It’s definitely interesting to see how Favreau and his team brought this world to life–especially in the way Favreau and his team marries shooting with live-action techniques with modern VR technology. Yes, VR.

“The Timeless Tale” is a love fest type of featurette. Not only does everyone talk about their love for the original and their love for the cast. At the same time, Favreau gives insight as to why he cast the actors for each role.

“More to Be Scene” is a fun and dynamic way to see the various stages in the creation of a scene. From storyboards to animatics to the recording sessions, the feature cuts through each stage in a playful manner. Also, you get to fully hear the songs which aren’t bad either.

Needless to say, Music Videos and Song Selection are self-explanatory. “Protect the Pride” is an important feature that highlights the vital conservation of the lion population. If you want to learn more about the conservation of lions, go to lionrecoveryfund.org.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms


Overall, The Lion King is a technical marvel that keeps the core themes intact while giving the original a brand new paint job. The video and audio mix are the best Disney’s ever put out there is an Ultra HD release. At the same time, the special features are both fun and informative.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

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