Matt Hough

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Matt Hough

The Lion King: Signature Collection Blu-ray Review



Even after more than two decades since its initial release, The Lion King is still the highest grossing hand-drawn animation movie in film history, a beautifully rendered and wonderfully entertaining story of good versus evil set in one particular animal kingdom in Africa.

[review]
 

Jake Lipson

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Thanks for this review. This is one of my favorite films of all time, so the new bonus features are going to push me over the edge into double-dip territory, even tough I already have the Diamond Edition. It's good to know what's new on here, and while it doesn't seem to be quite as much as advertised, for this film I want everything.

It sounds like the Matthew Broderck and Nathan Lane conversation was recorded around the time of the previous Blu-ray release (and excerpted in the documentary on that disc) but not included before. Seems like Disney deliberately excluded it in order to get us to buy the movie again later. Unfortunately, it will work.

Is the commentary the same one as provided on previous releases? If so, it dates back to the 1995 laserdisc release and has also been included on the 2003 DVD and 2011 Blu-ray editions. It's very good, but given the time passed since making the film, it might have been nice to get a new retrospective commentary as well, although I'd be pleasantly surprised if Disney bothered to record a new one.
 
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Lord Dalek

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Sounds like I'm fine sticking with my old bluray then.
 

Nailwraps

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One important thing to note; the clouds missing from the Diamond Edition have been restored for this release!:
http://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?p=13997923#post13997923
 

Jake Lipson

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I got this last night and watched all of the new bonus material right away.

What is here in terms of new content is very good, but there doesn't seem to be any reason at all that most of it could not have been included on the previous release. The recording sessions featurette and the story room pitches (which are great) date from 1994, so obviously they had that in 2011. The "Nathan and Matthew extended conversation" even says at the front of it that it was filmed in 2011 for use in the documentary on the Diamond Edition, so certainly that could have been included before but wasn't. And, it's only 8 minutes; I'm sure their entire lunch conversation was longer than 8 minutes, and there are clips in the old documentary that aren't here. Why is it so hard to just give us the complete feature?

I feel like, if you were to combine all of the bonus material from the Platinum Edition (2003) and the Diamond Edition (2011) and this one into a single set -- and then add the 1994 TV making-of documentary, which sadly hasn't turned up on any format since the laserdisc - you would get pretty close to a definitive edition of this film. But, they didn't do that, as most of the good content from previous releases are left off. (Yeah, yeah, a some of it is bundled with the digital copy, but that doesn't really count, and there's really no reason it couldn't have been on the disc too.) Since they did not carry over previous extras, you've got to have all three disc versions from the last 14 years in order to get everything, which is unfortunate. Given Disney's usually stellar track record with these animated releases, it is a little surprising that every time The Lion King's number comes up for re-release, it gets a half-baked supplement package, even though it is the crown Jewel of the '90s Disney period.

The new disc even lacks a general making-of-the-film featurette. Yeah, I have that content already, but it would be ideal for everything to be in one place. Also, the D23 reunion panel which was done in July to promote this release (and is available on YouTube) was more well-rounded as a making-of-the-whole-film picture than anything on the disc. It's a shame that couldn't have been included here as well, but I suspect these discs were probably authored, pressed and ready to go by the time that panel happened.

If this were almost any other film, I would be annoyed at paying $19.99 to upgrade this without being able to unload the previous editions. It is extremely rare for me to upgrade solely on the basis of bonus features anymore anyway, but last year when I bought Boyhood and Pan's Labyrinth in their Criterion editions, I gave the previous Blu-rays to a friend who doesn't care about extras, which made double dipping easier to justify because I was also gifting the films, in a way. As usual with Disney, can't do that here. Since it's The Lion King, which is one of the iconic films of my childhood and my #2 favorite of all time, I did it, and am happy to have the new archival bonus, but still feel like there was more to be done for this release, to make something comprehensive and definitive for one of Disney's most significant and important works.
 
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