Lion King 3, The: Hakuna Matata (2004)

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Released 12-May-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Game-Hidden Mickey Hunt
Deleted Scenes-7 (11:43)
Featurette-Timon: Behind The Legend (4:05)
Featurette-Making Of-Before The Beginning: The Making Of Lion King 3 (14:51)
Music Video-'Grazing In The Grass' Performed By Raven (3:12)
Game-Timon And Pumbaa's Virtual Safari
Game-Rafiki's Challenge
Game-Find The Face
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 73:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (21:41)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Bradley Raymond
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Matthew Broderick
Ernie Sabella
Nathan Lane
Matt Weinberg
Julie Kavner
Jerry Stiller
Robert Guillaume
Moira Kelly
Whoopi Goldberg
Jim Cummings
Edward Hibbert
Cheech Marin
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Don Harper


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Icelandic Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Swedish
Finnish
Icelandic
Estonian
English Titling
Swedish Titling
Finnish Titling
Icelandic Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Given how much money The Lion King raked in for the Disney empire, direct from the film as well as via copious quantities of merchandising, it is hardly surprising that they have gone to a third film in the franchise. What is a tad surprising is that it is a direct-to-video effort and that the production values are as good as the original theatrical film.

    So where does The Lion King 3 sit in terms of the franchise? Well, it certainly is not a sequel like The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. It is certainly not really a prequel either as it barely touches on any characters other than the meerkat and the warthog. What it is is a side story that details how Timon and Pumbaa came to be pals and how they came to be a part of The Lion King story. That is probably why the film goes by the name of The Lion King 1˝ in the United States.

    Unfortunately to offer up much in the way of a plot synopsis will probably give too much of the story away. Suffice it to say that we now find out the reason why a social animal such as a meerkat, in the form of Timon, is wandering the Serengeti alone. We also meet some of his family. How he came to meet up with Pumbaa is present but why Pumbaa is alone is told briefly - I smell a fourth film in the franchise that covers Pumbaa's story in more detail? How they both came to be involved with Simba is also covered. All of this is done from a slightly different perspective than in The Lion King obviously, so it ends up being a little funnier.

    Not that much funnier however. Whilst I am definitely not in the majority here, it is a little depressing that the funniest moments here are firmly based in the toilet humour that traditionally Disney have avoided. Yep, fart jokes might not exactly abound but they are here. The presentation of the film itself is no doubt meant to be funny too. Timon and Pumbaa are seen in front of the film in relief at times, adding comments here and there as deemed necessary, but also pushing the pause button on the remote to pause playback for some interjections. Some of this stuff is funny but it starts to grate after a while. Where the film does score is the way the stories from the original film and this film are intertwined in a coherent way. In that respect the crew did a very good job - and that was also a reason why the production values here had to be high. For the connection to work, it needed to be seamless and that could only be achieved by appropriate production values that made the new film look as if it belongs alongside the original film.

    I fear that once again I am way out of the demographic to which this film is directed. From a technical point of view, the film is very much better than expected. The story itself is only marginally better than expected. Were it not for the style of the presentation, things might have been a lot better but as it is the presentation is where the film loses me. Still, if you have worn out The Lion King then this might well be worthwhile checking out.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Whilst this is a made-for-video effort, it is like no other such effort we have previously seen from Disney. The production values are amazingly high all things considered and certainly this is no tossed out effort. The home of the mouse has even recognised that televisions are not always 4:3 and given us a widescreen presentation in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. It seems that this direct-to-video effort is definitely starting out on the right foot.

    It continues too with an excellent transfer that is very much in the vein of The Lion King. Detail is very good, definition is excellent, the transfer is very clear and there is barely a hint of grain to be seen. This really ranks right up there with some of the best work that we have seen from Disney - a quite staggering surprise for a direct-to-video film.

    The excellent news continues with some really wonderful colours, highlighted by some very nice vibrancy at times. The tones are deep, even and very consistent. There is not a hint of oversaturation and colour bleed is definitely absent. Blacks are well handled. Again, definitely not like your average direct-to-video release.

    There are no obvious MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The slight resolution issue on some camera pans would seem to be inherent in the source material and not introduced in the compression process. Film-to-video artefacts are confined to some minor outline aliasing that is quite ignorable after a short time. There are no film artefacts to be found here, not unexpectedly so in a brand new film.

    This is apparently an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 21:41, although I did not note any layer change during play back.

    There are six subtitle options on the DVD. The English efforts are pretty good with little in the way of dialogue being chopped to keep the subtitles up with the dialogue - which as you can guess moves at a fairly rapid pace at times.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on this DVD, being Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic. The English soundtrack is at the full bitrate of 448 Kb/s, whilst the others are at 384 Kb/s.

    The dialogue comes up well in the soundtrack and is easy to understand. Since it is animation and not even Disney are perfect, we have the usual animation sync issues.

    The music comes from Don Harper and it is not a bad effort within the confines of what it has to do, namely keep some faith with The Lion King and support at least one new song from Elton John and Tim Rice. It is certainly better than your average Disney made-for-video effort.

    It might not be the most dynamic soundtrack you will ever hear but it is at least discernibly six channel, which is more than we seem to generally get from these sorts of made-for-video efforts. The surround channels have some decent encoding at times, with a fair deal of wallop that is most un-Disney like. Clearly they have realised that they need to get up-to-date with the realities of modern life where children ain't going to suffer plain old stereo. Some of the directional effects are very nicely done (such as the wildebeest stampede). There really was not a whole lot wrong with what was presented here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Considering that there are two discs in this set, the total contents are pretty poor in both quantity and quality. Indeed, with more filler than you will find at the Spakfilla factory, this two disc set barely runs to enough data to actually require two discs. Take out the really rubbish stuff and it would all fit onto one disc. The almost-tossed together nature of the discs extend to the fact that the language selections for the menus on the first disc are different to the selections on the second disc. I don't actually recall having seen that before...

Menu

    With the main menu having a decent introduction, the main menu itself has some reasonable animation. Indeed, modest animation can be found throughout the menus, as well as audio enhancement. Well presented.

Disc One:

Game - Hidden Mickey Hunt

    This gives you the option of watching the movie and chasing the hidden Mickeys, of which there are apparently twenty. To be blunt, I found it dead boring and gave up even attempting to go seeking the Mickeys after about Mickey #3, so I cannot really tell you what exactly the purpose of the game is and what the reward might be. If you want to rank the filler in the set, this comes close to the top of the list. Agonising stuff indeed.

Deleted Scenes - 7 (11:43)

    With introductions from George Mendoza (Producer) and Bradley Raymond (Director) for each scene, as well as a wrap up at the end of the presentation that briefly describes why the scenes were dropped, this is a reasonably interesting albeit short collection. All are actually presented in storyboard fashion as they never even progressed it seems to the actual animation process. The presentation is Full Frame that is not 16x9 enhanced, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound where required. The storyboards are actually letterboxed within the Full Frame at a ratio of about 1.78:1. Technically there is nothing really wrong here other than the video is occasionally a bit grainy. The actual scenes are:

Disc Two:

Bonus Material:

Featurette - Timon: Behind The Legend (4:05)

    Hosted by Peter Graves, this is I guess supposed to be a funny piece but as far as I am concerned it falls flat on its face. You can sort of guess what it is supposed to be about and of course... Technically it is not the best looking thing I have ever seen. The material with Peter Graves is very, very soft looking and is very different to the animated stuff involving Timon and others. It is presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - Before The Beginning: The Making Of Lion King 3 (14:51)

    Hosted by George Mendoza and Bradley Raymond, this is pretty much a bog-standard look at the gestation of the film - glossing over the topics in order to keep everything moving and keep the whole thing under the magic fifteen minutes. It is presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Technically there is nothing much wrong here. Overall, a bit boring.

Music Video - Grazing In The Grass: Raven (3:12)

    The song is pretty average but Raven is well worth watching. As far as music videos go this is pretty good and features a storming Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Pretty impressive surround encoding without too much in the way of bass in the low frequency effects channel to destroy proceedings. About two minutes in there is some moiré artefacting but that is the extent of the technical issues here. Otherwise this Full Frame presentation is very good. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

Games and Activities:

Game - Timon And Pumbaa's Virtual Safari

    Not really a game per se but literally a ride around a ride that, at least for those who might have visited one of the four Disney theme parks around the world, has a lot of harking to the rides to be enjoyed at those theme parks. Of course it has a Timon and Pumbaa wildlife slant to it. About the only input required from the viewer is to select left or right at one point in the trip. Reasonable enough I suppose but definitely more suited to the younger ones.

Game - Rafiki's Challenge

    Just the old find the (insert the hidden item here) in the coconut halves game. Rafiki unfortunately moves the three nut halves at such a poor pace that it is so easy to keep track of which nut is hiding the gemstone it is not funny. This is probably number two on the list of pointless filler. This is definitely for the (very) younger set only.

Game - Find The Face

    As all the guests turn up for the presentation of the film, you get to see them in silhouette as they take their seats. You get to identify them from the three pictures offered up by the usher. This is probably number three on the list of pointless filler. This is again definitely for the (very) younger set only.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From the reviews of the Region 1 release (the film is known as The Lion King 1˝) it would seem that there are some differences in the contents. Aside from language and subtitle options, the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 release misses out on the Find The Face game. The Region 2 releases appear to be the same as the Region 4 in most respects. Unfortunately the presence of the dts soundtrack makes the Region 1 release the winner by a long way. Given the amount of space available on the Region 4 discs, it does make one wonder why we did not get the dts soundtrack.

Summary

    I am going to be in disagreement with most reviewers over the merits of this direct-to-video release. Whilst there is certainly nothing direct-to-video in the technical quality of the presentation (a testament to the predominantly Down Under crew who made the film), the film itself tries to be too funny in the way it is presented and for me destroys whatever good things there might be about the film. The fact that the best jokes in the film are all toilet humour efforts shows that even Disney is bowing to the reality of modern life. As a two disc set this is completely underwhelming and the obvious filler could have been well and truly dispensed with to leave a much tighter one disc effort. Still, with an obvious target audience well younger than the demographic I reside in, this might have some worth to those who have already worn out The Lion King on DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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