Michael Scott

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Mia and the White Lion


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Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

I’ve noticed over the last several decades that family oriented films have really dropped off the face of the map. By that I don’t mean G and PG rated films that everyone can watch without filtering them for young ones, but rather movies that people of all ages in a family can enjoy together. Those types of films littered the 80s and 90s in droves, but it seems that segregation of the family members viewing habits has occurred over the last 20 years. We have movies made FOR adults, and then we have movies made for kids (which usually are animated and good babysitters, but very rarely a movie that the parents will enjoy watching as well). Very few are the movies that come out that appeal to multiple demographics in the family unit (outside of Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks), and even more so in the live action film world. Mia and the White Lion is kind of a return to form for the family film genre, as it is a fun animal adventure that people of all ages can sit down and enjoy. It’s never perfect, as is the case with most films that span multiple age demographics, but it is fun and heartwarming, and hits just the right notes for a family movie night.

Mia Owen (Daniah De Villiers) is a young girl who’s been supplanted from London and moved half way across the world down to South Africa, where her parents run a Lion conservation whose goal is to repopulate the diminishing lion population in Africa. Mia is NOT happy about the move, and desperately misses her friends back home, begrudging the giant beasts that tore her and her family away from their comfortable city lifestyle. Mia’s attitude changes, though, when a verifiable miracle is born into their life. A white lion, a one in a million aberration of nature, is born. This little guy not only will be the main attraction that will be the financial backbone of the conservation, but also becomes inseparable from Mia herself, subsequently changing the young girl’s attitude about being in South Africa.

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As the years pass, the intertwining of the white lion cub Charlie and Mia’s personalities is strained. The girl adores her wild friend, but Charlie is growing up into an adult lion and certain wild tendencies come out. Tendencies that can be particularly dangerous to a human when a lion doesn’t know it’s own strength. It doesn’t help that Mia’s “on the spectrum” brother Mick (Ryan Mac Lennon) takes a turn for the worse and Mia’s father John (Langley Kirkwood) falls in with a sleazy businessman. When Charlie nearly harms the family by accident, John sends the lion away against Mia’s better judgment. However, Mia then learns the terrible dark secret about the family business. For years she has been told that they were running a wildlife preserve to help conserve the lion population, but the reality of the situation is that they breed lions for “canned hunts” where high paying big game hunters can hunt a wild animal in a contained area of wild with a guide. Realizing that Charlie is about to be a big target, Mia sets out to save her best friend.

Mia and the White Lion does admirably at blending in an activist theme of anti sport hunting with a genuinely sweet family tale. It really doesn’t come off as preachy or overly annoying at all, mainly due to the fact that you have invested so much time watching Mia and Charlie bond over the years. Instead of demonizing the hunting community for doing what they do, they focus in on the highly controversial habit of sport hunting (the sport hunting that isn’t used to cull wild herds, or to get rid of animals that may weaken the unit as is the case with many sport hunts in South Africa) and breeding for the purpose of sport hunting. The main cringe worthy moments stem from some of the dialog as Mia bonds with Charlie, and some of the simplistic approaches to her attitude problems. The movie really thrives and does its best when they are displaying Charlie’s innate curiosity at the world around him and Mia’s interactions with him.




Rating:

Rated PG for thematic elements, peril and some language




Video: :4.5stars:
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Mia and the White Lion plays out in South Africa, and the sun drenched surroundings make for a simply lovely look on Blu-ray. Warm, bright and full of browns and earthy tones, the digitally shot film makes good use of the African terrain, and we can see all sorts of nuanced detail in the picture. The dusty little farm that Mia lives in with Thor is intricately detailed down the sand on the floor of their farmhouse. Facial details are warm and color filled, and just a hint on the ruddy side at that. Black levels are strong and show off good shadow detail and any major artifacting is left out completely, as this is a very sharp and precise film that only has 98 minutes or son on this BD-50 disc.








Audio: :4stars:
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As you could expect, Shout Factory puts on the obligatory 5.1 and 2.0 downmix in DTS-HD MA lossless, but also includes a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track in French as well. Both are solid mixes but I really like the English track, but neither track is wrong since this WAS a French Monaco production. Vocals are crisp and clear, with a majority of the mix being supported by said dialog. The surrounds are always active with the score, the rumbling of lions out in the desert, or other various ambient noises that seem to litter the sound scape. LFE is mild, but still there, and is mainly used to accentuate the score more than anything. It’s a solid mix, but a dramatic mix, meaning it does everything quite well without really stretching the limitations of the audio format.








Extras: :4stars:
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• Interview With Director Gilles de Maistre
• Interview With Actress Daniah De Villiers
• The Making Of Mia And The White Lion Featurette
• The Extraordinary Friendship Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Casting Footage
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery









Final Score: :4stars:


With such a dearth of family films in the last 20 years or so, it’s refreshing to see an honest and sincere film like Mia and the White Lion come to home video as a movie that people from all ages in the household can watch comfortably. It’s sweet and reminds me of many of the family movies of the 90s, with lots of emphasis on animal conservation and heartwarming interactions between human and animals. Shout Factory releases the Blu-ray with great video, good audio, and a REALLY impressive array of extras to enjoy. As is the case with many “catch all” family films, the movie has its good points and bad ones, but is generally a fun all ages watch for the whole family. Recommended.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Daniah De Villiers, Melanie Laurent, Langley Kirkwood, Ryan Mac Lennan, Lionel Newton, Lillian Dube, Brandon Auret
Directed by: Gilles de Maistre
Written by: Prune de Maistre, William Davies
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 2.0, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Shout Factory
Rated: PG
Runtime: 96 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
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Recommendation: Recommended

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Will have to check this out for family viewing. :)
 
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