Last year, over at 411mania.com, I hosted a Top 5 column and asked everyone their favorite Disney animated movies of all time. When I listed my favorites, The Lion King was the No. 1 movie without competition. Here is what I wrote at the time:
It was Beauty and the Beast that really took the world by storm and showed that Disney was back, but damn if The Lion King wasn’t the best of the batch when it comes to Disney’s new golden age. Aladdin, Little Mermaid, and Mulan were all good, but Lion King was exactly what a Disney movie really is. A tragic loss to lead the hero on his way, great characters as the hero learns his role in the world, and then a great character arc as he returns and takes his place. This movie is Disney and is, in my opinion, the best Disney movie of all time.
The Lion King is an animated retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the king Mustaffa (James Earl Jones) killed by his evil brother Scar (Jeremy Irons). He makes the king’s son Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) believe he did it, causing the young lion to run away in fear.
Scar proceeds to align with the hyenas and almost destroys the Pridelands while Simba grows up and makes new friends outside the Pridelands before returning and saving his Kingdom. The action is great, the movie has its heart in the right place, and everything just clicks, making this a return to form for Disney Animation after many years of lackluster product.
If you do not own The Lion King, you need to own this movie. This remains, in my opinion, the best Disney animated movie of all time.
If you do own a version of this, it might be a harder sell. Much like all Disney animated classics, there have been a ton of movies released concerning The Lion King and the question here is whether this one is worth the upgrade or not. It all comes down to the special features.
Lion King is the fifth Disney Animated movie that has received the new Signature Collection editions, following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, and Bambi.
The version I owned before this was The Lion King Diamond release from 2011. That was unfortunate because it only included some deleted scenes and bloopers and a 20-minute feature. On the other hand, the Platinum edition released in 2003 included audio commentary and behind-the-scenes features that could be accessed during the movie.
So, did The Lion King Circle of Life Signature edition fix the problem of the Diamond edition when it comes to a lack of special features?
Yes, it did.
The audio commentary is back with directors Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers and producer Don Hahn. There are also some nice features including “The Recording Sessions,” which sees footage of the actors working on the voice recordings for the movie. Speaking of the actors, Matthew Broderick (Adult Simba) and Nathan Lane (Timon) offer insights and discussion of the movie’s legacy and their work on it.
Other features include “Visualizing a Villain,” “Inside the Story Room,” “Music & More,” and five galleries. That alone makes it worth the upgrade.