The Lion King 3D: Diamond Edition

Disney takes pride in an animation that is truly a work of art in both 2D and 3D HD

Was there ever another Disney classic that’s had as much success as The Lion King? A box office sensation on its original cinema release in 1994, the film went on to set new sales records on VHS and DVD, before ushering in an award-winning Broadway musical adaptation and two further direct-to-DVD sequels. And all that before it smashed box office records again earlier this year during its limited 3D re-release in cinemas.

Given the above, it’s hardly surprising that many people consider The Lion King the absolute pinnacle of Disney’s animated features. And, while we at HCC find The Jungle Book to be an altogether more entertaining foray into similar territory, there’s no denying the captivating power and skilful storytelling at the heart of this remarkable film.

Picture: As expected, The Lion King looks nothing less than incredible on Blu-ray. The 2D AVC 1.78:1 1080p encode is a true work of art – bursting to life with eye-popping colours and a stunning sharpness that brings the best out of the character animation and backgrounds. Blacks are rock solid, detailing is impeccable and there’s no a trace of any digital anomalies to be found.

But what about the 3D version you ask? For the most part the same comments apply to the film’s MVC 1.78:1 1080p 3D incarnation. As always with stereoscopic material there’s a slight trade-off in vibrancy and sharpness, but there’s very little ghosting and none of the artefacting we’ve encountered on other 3D releases. Colour banding raises its head on a couple of occasions, but you’ll probably be too busy dodging charging wildebeest and pouncing lion cubs to care.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Both presentations of the film feature an identical DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 remix – and it’s an absolute joy from start to finish. The opening bars of music send a shiver down the spine, culminating in the rich tonal range of Circle of Life as Simba is presented to his subjects. While it’s the music that truly drives the mix, every other element, from dialogue to Foley effects, is equally impressive. And there’s some convincing use of the surrounds during more action-packed scenes such as the wildebeest stampede and the film’s fiery finale.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Unlike some other companies, Disney continues to include separate 2D and 3D platters in its stereoscopic Blu-ray releases. And it continues to save all of its bonus material for the 2D disc.

This Diamond Edition of The Lion King offers up a typically fan-pleasing collection of material including an audio commentary by co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, a 4min animated Bloopers and Outtakes reel, the wonderful new 38min retrospective documentary Pride of The Lion King, a 20min look back at the development of the film presented by producer Don Hahn, five deleted/alternate scenes with director introductions, a Sing-Along mode, The Morning Report musical number animated for the 2002 IMAX version of the film, an extensive interactive gallery containing more than 400 images and the usual Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa animated promo. Also on offer is a Digital Copy of the film itself.

The rest of the old DVD extras aren’t on the disc itself, but are available via the BD-Live enabled Disney’s Virtual Vault. Through this feature (unavailable at the time of writing), the studio promises that users with net-connected players should be able to access all of the absent extras, including additional deleted scenes, featurettes, storyboard-to-film comparisons and more.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: Disney’s latest Diamond Edition is the undisputed king of the animated Blu-ray jungle.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment, All-region BD, £30 approx, On sale now