Lion King, The 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 246, December 2019

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Jon Favreau
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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In "The Lion King," after the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Director Jon Favreau, the documentary "The Journey To The Lion King" (HD 53:25), the featurette "More To Be Scene" (HD 10:31), the "Beyoncé "Spirit" music video (HD 04:28), Elton John's "Never Too Late" music video (HD 04:08), the song selection, "Protect The Pride" (HD 03:02, upfront previews and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using Arri Alexa Mini and Arri Alexa IMAX camera systems at 6.5K and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. This is an effects-heavy presentation that is absolutely remarkable in its realism. The wide color gamut presents an absolutely realistic natural earthy African terrain in which the wild animals live. Animal hues exhibit wonderful color fidelity, as do the sun and fires with their intense orange tone. The earthy color palette includes spectacular and vivid forest greens and browns along with the segments of decay and fire with fiery orange flames and embers. Throughout, the distinction between what is real and what is digitally rendered is virtually indistinguishable. Animal fur is impressively realistic in subtle variations of hue. HDR contrast is superb and incredibly dynamic. Bright elements are intense, such as the sun and raging fires. Shadows that characterize formations of rocks, trees, grasses and other terrain elements are vividly natural. Black levels are deep and in one screen brilliantly contrasted with millions of stars in the blackish blue sky. Nighttime settings are bold and dramatic. Resolution also is exceptional with fine detail throughout, including fine threads of animal hair and distinctive whiskers and fine granules of sand blowing in the wind.

WOW! segments are from 02:04 to 04:42, 21:22 to 23:20, 24:28 to 28:36, 37:00 to 42:20, 56:14 to 58:20, 18:00 to 01:20:50, 01:24:18 to 01:28:22, 01:28:56 to 01:31:45, 01:35:06 to 01:38:18, 01:40:58 to 01:43:37 and 01:46:42 to 01:47:41.

The picture, which in all respects, realism is king, is exemplary of real world photography and digital construction. The presentation is absolutely compelling, true classic, exhibiting excellence throughout. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack requires the volume turned up to reference level to be fully enjoyable and for appreciating a wider dynamic range. Hans Zimmer's orchestral/choral score is expansive, as it completely occupies the soundstage and extends to the surrounds with directionalized instrumentation that is dynamic sounding throughout. African vocal and chorus segments deliver original songs by Tim Rice and Elton John. The singing is wonderful, as are the songs sung. Animal sounds are realistic, with the adult lion roars sounding authoritative. The sound of a waterfall and the rush through a narrow mountain passage of bulls are powerful. Thunder and lighting also are powerful sounding with deep sub-25 Hz .1 LFE bass extension. While the music envelops the soundfield, surround energy with respect to atmospherics and sound effects tend not to be aggressively extended to the surrounds. Animal voicing is intelligible and natural sounding throughout, though, their ADR characteristics can be wanting in better spatial integration.

The Immersive Sound element is primarily comprised of an extension of the orchestral score with brief sound effects, such as a flock of birds stirred off a rhinoceros and rocks, a flying talking bird, howling wind, subtle jungle animal and insect sounds, a reverberating baboon voice, swish sounds through the jungle, the voice of Simba's father spirit, clapping thunder, fiery intense wind during a clash with Scar, and other minor sounds. While effective when engaged, far more could have transpired to create a greater feel of environmental immersion and spacial definition. (Gary Reber)