This 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray is about as good as it gets. On it's picture and audio alone, it's one of the must-own Blu-rays of the year. From the first moment when the sun rises over the savanna, the richness of color is impressive. Black levels are solid as well. Details really make the artistry of the animation stand out. During the wildebeest stampede, nothing gets lost in the chaos as dust swirls around the air. The fires at the end with their striking reds, yellows and oranges make a powerful impact. The presentation is clean from both dust and digital anomalies.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is equally as impressive. Everything is balanced nicely and powerfully. You feel the command of Mufasa when his roar rocks the LFE track. The aforementioned wildebeest stampede is a highlight of the entire sound field and directionality. You feel like you are Simba in the middle of the mayhem. Hans Zimmer's score is crystal clear and makes an impact right from the first note of the African chant that starts the film. One particular element that stuck out was the dialogue balance that really fit the character and the moment.
For the special features, the audio commentary presents producer Don Hahn and directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. They are a lively bunch and one can tell the passion they still have for the film. Fans get not only a behind-the-scenes look at the artistic approach, but also a historical perspective. One thing to note that is different from other Blu-rays is that the commentary track is not under the special features menu, but accessed via the Play Movie menu.
"Pride of THE LION KING" is a great making-of doc that explores even more elements of the production and really serves as a look back at the production by bringing back so many of the animators, actors and even execs that worked on the picture. It also delves into how the legacy of the film was continued with the award-winning theatrical production.
"THE LION KING: A Memoir" is a more historical making of telling the story of the production. Hahn leads us through the story using current interviews and archival interviews from the time of the film's release in 1994. To think this was the movie no one had faith in. Now POCAHONTAS that one was going to be the classic.
Allers and Minkoff give introductions to the deleted and alternative scenes. "Zazu Flatters Mufasa" shows a cut joke that Mufasa tells. Mufasa is no comedian. "King of the Wild" was Mufasa's song that was cut because it never quite fit. "Scar Wants Nala As His Queen" was cut because it was deemed too creepy. "Simba and Nala Reunited" is an extended version of the scene in the film and "Zazu Flatters Scar" is simply a few extra lines where Zazu tries to flatter Scar without lying.
For the release, the animation team was also brought back together to create a new scene based around the popular song, "The Morning Report," from the stage show.
The disc also includes: animated bloopers and outtakes; an interactive art gallery; sing-along mode; Disney Second Screen, which links the film with additional content via an iPad; and access to past DVD features via the Disney Blu-ray Live enabled Virtual Vault.