Disney has a strong track record of making direct to video sequels to their big box office feature animated film titles. This time though they have gone and done a prequel of sorts to one of their features. I guess that is somewhat different. What we get here is a The Lion King 1 ½ which gives us a glimpse of life before some of the events in The Lion King which came out back in 1994.
The Lion King 1 ½ is a prequel of sorts to the first film with emphasis on the backstory of Timon (voice by Nathan Lane again) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella). The film opens with Timon working his pack and trying to fit in. He fails at doing his appointed tasks (such as digging and guard duty) and eventually heads to the jungle for some adventure and well to get a sense of purpose. Here he meets Pumbaa and the two have a few adventures and well get into some trouble.
The Lion King 1 ½ is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The animation and quality isn't quite up to par with one of Disney's big screen releases but the quality is still very good and works well on DVD. Colors are bright and vivid with strong tones and hues. No smearing, bleed, or shimmer issues were noticed. Black level is good and contrast settings seem fine. The print was very clean too.
Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio tracks are included on this release. The mix is mostly dialogue with some effects which means this one is front channel oriented. Some light surround effects plus some ambient sounds are most of what goes to the surrounds. Add in the score and some music numbers to give the rears a bit more to do at times. Balance seems good when there is a lot going on. Dialogue was clear throughout.
A few extras are included on the first disc with more on the second. You get the sneak peeks trailers, 7 deleted scenes, and the Mickey Hunt which lets you find hidden Mickey illustrations in the film.
Disc 2 has featurettes. Before the Beginning: Making of Lion King 1 ½ covers the basics with a 15 minute run time. Timon: Behind the Legend is a shorter featurette that gives a shorter quick glance over the prosecution. Also on this disc you will find a music video from Raven plus some interactive games.
Disney once again has provided a very nice DVD release of what I assume is a straight to video production. Good audio, video and extras make it a solid DVD that is a few steps up from their usual direct to video animations. Those are pretty good to in terms of quality but this one just seems to have had a bit more care and attention. Kids will probably find a lot to like here but grown up fans of The Lion King might want to rent this as the show itself is not all that great.
Read DVD Reviews & Much More at the Digital Bits!