A battle for survival in the jungle and some super-sleuthing are featured in top DVD and Blu-ray releases for Oct. 22.
"The Lion King"; 3 stars: Most of what director Jon Favreau learned making "The Jungle Book" was used to make the live-action version of "The Lion King" based on the Oscar-winning 1994 Disney animated film. This "Lion King" features the same stunning visual effects, and the slight human touches given to the animals are enough to help express emotion, but not to the point of making the creatures seemed mutated.
Once again, the young lion Simba (voiced both by JD McCrary and Donald Glover), finds himself in the "Hamlet"-inspired story of royal treachery as his uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) will go to deadly extremes to take over as the king of the pride. When tragedy strikes, Simba must find a way to live up to the teachings of his wise father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones).
The question with past live-action interpretations of animated works continues: Do we really need another version? The animated version was as close to perfection as possible with story, music, visuals and voice casting. The live-action version has equally strong elements, but even if they reach the high standards of the original offering, that doesn't qualify as a reason to make the same film again.
"Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season"; 3 stars: You can't keep a great mystery-solver quiet for long. Fans remained so loyal after three seasons of "Veronica Mars" that a film was made featuring the sleuth and her friends. And the show got a third life when Hulu ordered eight episodes for what is being called the first season. It's really Season 4, but that's only a number.
The show continues to work because of the snappy writing and the never-aging Kristen Bell as Mars. She plays the role with a feisty attitude, especially in scenes with her father (Enrico Colantoni). They get to trade jabs while trying to figure out who is behind a series of bombings in their town.
No matter the season, "Veronica Mars" remains one of the best detective shows to air on TV.
ALSO NEW ON DVD AND BLU-RAY OCT. 22
"Satanic Panic": Pizza delivery driver becomes the target of a group of Satanists looking for someone to sacrifice. Rebecca Romijn stars.
"Bakugan: Origin of Species": Dan Kouzo and his best friends defend the mysterious Bakugan race.