DVD Review: The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar

By , Contributor
It was something of a children's-oriented broadcast TV event: The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on the Disney Channel. Of course, the original 1994 The Lion King remains one of the most cherished of all Walt Disney Animated Classics. That blockbuster has spawned a pair of direct-to-video sequels (The Lion King II: Simba's Pride in '98 and The Lion King 1 1/2 in '04). News broke last year that a Disney Channel series based on the film, The Lion Guard, was forthcoming. The November 22, 2015 airing of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar was the event that kicked things off. The Lion Guard series began airing in January 2016.

Now you can snag a copy of the TV special Return of the Roar on DVD for your Disney animation collection, complete with a bonus "Here Comes the Lion Guard" (the series' ending theme) music video by Beau Black. The DVD (no Blu-ray edition available) also includes a Digital HD copy and an exclusive "talking backpack clip" (which is tucked inside the case). As directed by Howy Parkins (Jake and the Never Land Pirates), the 44-minute special plays absolutely fine for young kids—perfect, because that's the intended demographic. Parents, older siblings, or just adult Disney animation buffs in general will likely have their patience tested somewhat.

I don't imagine I can convey the plot any more succinctly than Disney does in their official synopsis, so I'll leave it to them: "Meet Kion (voiced by Max Charles), second-born cub of Simba (Rob Lowe) and Nala (Gabrielle Union), as he assumes the role of leader of 'The Lion Guard,' an elite team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. Follow him as he assembles a group of unlikely heroes: Bunga the honey badger, Fuli the cheetah, Beshte the hippo and Ono the egret. Join them on a thrilling adventure as they use their unique abilities to defend the Pride Lands from predators and maintain balance within the Circle of Life." 

lion king return of the roar DVD (273x380).jpg Yes it's lazy to quote press materials, but if you're interested in the story—that's it, in a nutshell. Quality-wise, the animation is just okay; fine for TV, not Disney-feature standards by any means. The voice talent often sounds like they're phoning it in, including a cameo by Mufasa himself, James Earl Jones. Original Pumbaa Ernie Sabella is back, too. There's lots of callbacks to the original film, with lots of references to things like "Hakuna Matata" and the "circle of life," etc. The songs are fluffy and forgettable, but catchy enough to get the target audience singing along.

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is a decently-produced time passer for undiscerning younger viewers. At 44 minutes it's a pretty short time passer, at that. But it's peppy enough that youngsters will likely just start it up all over again... and again... and again (until you, the parent or guardian, has the songs memorized too).

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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