Disney Junior’s animated series The Lion Guard now has its first DVD. It’s the series’ origin story called Return of the Roar.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the series yet, here’s the rundown. The lead character is a male lion cub named Kion. He is the second-born of Simba and Nala (his big sister is Kiara, who we first met in Disney’s 1998 direct-to-video “cheapquel” The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride). Kion gets selected by the deceased lion kings in the sky to re-establish the elite “Lion Guard,” a team that is tasked with preserving the Pride Lands (according to the series’ new mythology, evil uncle Scar was the last lion to run the Lion Guard before he destroyed it through his selfish ways).
Instead of assembling only lions, Kion (voiced by Max Charles) brings together some of his other savannah friends to join the Lion Guard team: Bunga the honey badger (voiced by Joshua Rush), Fuli the cheetah (voiced by Diamond White), Beshte the hippo (voiced by Dusan Brown), and Ono the egret (voiced by Atticus Shaffer).
Also along for the ride are some returning Lion King favorites, including Simba (voiced this time by Rob Lowe), Nala (voiced by Gabrielle Union), Mufasa (voiced again by the one and only James Earl Jones), Timon (voiced by Kevin Schon), Pumbaa (voiced once again by Ernie Sabella), Rafiki (voiced by Khary Payton), Zazu (voiced by Jeff Bennett), and Kion’s big sister Kiara (voiced Eden Riegel).
In the 45-minute film, Kion and his team must learn to work together to fight the still-rotten hyenas as well as convince Simba and Nala that they are up to this important and honorable task.
This was my first exposure to the series. Character designs are fresh and appropriate for TV animation yet still on model, especially for the returning characters. I can’t say that I was just crazy about the music (it seemed a bit derivative to me), but I am not the target audience. Storywise, I think Disney is doing a much better job of trying to respect the source material but move it forward in a fresh way.
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is available on DVD+Digital HD today. And check out this music video with Beau Black singing The Lion Guard title track, too (which is also a bonus feature on the DVD).
About the DVD
Animation Studio: Disney Television Animation
Exec. Producer: Ford Riley (“Special Agent Oso”)
Director: Howy Parkins (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates”)
Packaging: DVD + Digital Copy and Free Talking Backpack Clip
Bonus: “Here Comes the Lion Guard” Music Video performed by Beau Black
Ratings: TV-Y (US)
Feature Run Time: Approx. 44 mins.
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen (Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions)
Audio: 2.0 Dolby Digital
Languages: English & French Audio; English, French & Spanish Subtitle