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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Lion King 1 1/2
Lion King 1 1/2
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG // February 10, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 30, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Promoed heavily in the months before its release, "Lion King 1 1/2" is another direct-to-video follow-up to the original 1994 animated hit. Taking place before the events of the first film, this picture focuses on the backstory of Timon (once again voiced by Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (once again voiced by Ernie Sabella), the Meerkat and Warthog who served as sidekicks in the original.

As the film opens, we join Timon as he's with his family, trying (and failing) to dig tunnels to keep the rest of his group away from the hyenas and other predators who tend to view the little creatures as a snack. When he fails at digging, his uncle and mother (Jerry Stiller and Julie Kavner - both hilarious, although I'll never stop thinking of Marge Simpson whenever I hear Kavner) suggest having him stand guard outside the den. You can guess how that works out.

Timon then heads out into the jungle to try and find his purpose in life, as he's clearly not working out with the rest of his pack. He then runs into Pumbaa, and the two have adventures that show how they were "behind-the-scenes", causing many of the events that happened in the original film. Occasionally throughout the picture, Timon and Pumbaa stop the "tape" to comment on the events of the film. These brief pauses are rather irritating, but thankfully never last more than a moment.

Despite being a direct-to-video release, the picture is definitely an improvement on most of Disney's prior direct-to-video efforts. The animation isn't up to the level of the original feature, but for a smaller budget effort, it's certainly quite passable. Aside from Lane and Sabella, other members (including Matthew Brodrick, Whoopi Goldberg, Moira Kelly, Robert Guillaume and Cheech Marin) of the original film's voice cast also return. The screenplay, by Tom Rogers (along with "additional screenplay material" from the writers of the original "Lion King"), is very good, with clever lines for the main duo and even a bathroom joke in reference to a scene in the original picture that was quite amusing. The film's occasional tunes aren't terribly catchy or memorable, but they're not too bad, either.

Overall, I quite liked this film. There's some very funny moments, inspired redos of scenes from the first film (only from Timon and Pumbaa's persective) and good animation/voice work. Recommended.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Lion King 1 1/2" is presented by Disney in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although the animation isn't quite to the level of the original film's, this sequel's bold, vibrant color palette remained beautifully rendered, with rich tones and vivid, well-saturated colors that never appeared smeared or otherwise problematic. Black level also remained strong throughout.

The presentation maintained excellent sharpness throughout, with no major flaws. I noticed a couple of slight hints of compression artifacts, but they certainly weren't distracting and remained hardly even noticable. Edge enhancement was not seen, while the print remained spotless. Overall, this was an excellent presentation.

SOUND: "Lion King 1 1/2" is presented by Disney in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The film's soundtrack is fairly conservative, as most of the film is dialogue-driven, with only the occasional drama or action. Surrounds are used a couple of times for some minor ambience or a sound effect, but largely, this is a front-heavy soundtrack. Score, dialogue and sound effects remained clearly recorded.

EXTRAS: Aside from the usual round of "sneak peek" trailers, the first disc offers 7 deleted scenes and an interactive "Mickey Hunt", which highlights the hidden Mickey Mouse illustrations in the film.

The set's second disc includes more supplements, such as the short featurettes, "Timon: Behind The Legend" (4 minutes) and the longer "making of" doc, "Before the Beginning - Making of Lion King 1 1/2" (15 minutes). Rounding out the second disc is a music video from Raven, along with three interactive games.

Final Thoughts: I really liked "Lion King 1 1/2". It's no classic, but it contains its share of entertaining moments and a good mix of humor for both kids and adult audiences. Disney's DVD edition provides excellent video, very good audio and a few minor supplements. Recommended.

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