J.D. Lafrance
The Lion King Special Edition DVD Review

The Lion King Special Edition

May 20, 2003

Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff,
Starring: Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Matthew Broderick, Jason Weaver, Joseph Williams, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Moira Kelly, Sally Dworsky, Niketa Calame, Laura Williams, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Robert Guillaume, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

At last, after just over 10 years since it’s worldwide release at the cinema, Disney’s The Lion King comes to dvd. One of the most successful Disney feature-length films of all time has been released on a special 2-disc edition dvd. And it’s jam-packed full of extra features, behind-the-scenes, commentaries, games and music videos. A DVD for all ages, The Lion King special edition dvd offers sections of the film in different languages plus deleted scenes and concepts that were abandoned at a later date.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, The Lion King starts off with a young lion cub (Simba) being crowned as the King’s son. All the animals from around the Serengeti come to see this happen. And so the film follows the story of young’s Simba’s rise to become King. It’s not all plain sailing as along the way, several events happen that make Simba’s path to be the rightful King all the more difficult. As a young cub he is faced with the loss of someone very close to him, and is forced on the run by his evil Uncle. He runs until he collapses from exhaustion and dehydration and is found by two fun-loving characters called Timon and Pumbaa who provide the comedic relief for the film. They teach Simba the key phrase to their freedom, “Hakuna Matata”, which means no worries. As a trio they learn from each other and become close friends, living in the jungle. Simba grows into a strong, adult lion and is happy until confronted by a blast from his past. A former friend from his childhood (Nala) has come looking for help because Simba’s evil Uncle has taken over as King of the Pridelands and has caused death and devastation. Most animals have been driven away, and those that chose to stay are dying of starvation. Simba refuses to go back until confronted by a wise old monkey (Rafiki) who teaches him the value of courage, loyalty and hope. Simba realises he must go back and take his rightful place as King. And he does so, ensuing in a huge battle between good and evil which results in one lion becoming triumphant and finally taking charge of the Pridelands.

As with all Disney films, music plays a huge role in this one. With music written by Tim Rice and Elton John, you just have to listen to the musical score in any of the scenes to realise how strongly the music links with the film as a whole. Disney has incorporated a new song into the film also. “The morning report” is a song that was cut for the cinematic release 10 years ago. But they have put it back in for the special edition dvd. Being a fan from the original film, I find the new song out of place and it does spoil the effect of the film for me. But for new audiences who haven’t seen the film before, it is another shining example of the work that has gone into making this magical film.

Special Features

As if watching the film wasn’t enchanting enough for audiences, there are also all the extra features on the dvd to watch. There is an in-depth documentary on the making of the film, explaining how Disney used the most sophisticated techniques in computer graphics (CGI) and animation to create this masterpiece. There is a whole feature on the music, explaining how they tried to use traditional African music in a way that would appeal to everybody. For the younger viewers there are games, the personality quiz is great fun. Just answering a few simple questions can give you the personality of any Lion King character. Another big feature is the documentary on the theatre version of this fantastic film. How they adapted it from screen to stage, the costume design, and the set design is all-fascinating and, for anyone who hasn’t seen the stage show, it will make you want to see it.

Overall, The Lion King special edition DVD is definitely worth buying whether you’re a Lion King fan or not. Especially if you are a Disney fan in general. The film is magnificent and is backed up with lots of special features. So often you see fantastic films come out on dvd, but skimping on the extras. Not so with The Lion King, you could almost spend a whole day just watching the two discs. I know I did! A brilliant film with stunning special features. The Lion King special edition dvd is definitely worth the money.


J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 95%



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