Blu-ray Review: Mia & The White Lion

There was a time when every few months a movie would show up in the theaters about a kid with an amazing exotic pet. As a kid who went to these movies, it was amazing to think about having a monkey, bear or tiger as a companion instead of a dog or cat. Of course the movies never truly dealt with the realities of such a pet like cleaning up their poop. Mia and the White Lion is a throwback to these films and yet it speaks to the situation of today.

Mia Owen (Daniah De Villiers) isn’t happy when her father decides to uproot the family from London to head to South Africa. He’s in for a big career change in that he’s running a nature preserve that focuses on raising lions. Mia would rather be back in England and following her beloved Manchester United soccer team and near friends. Things change a bit when a lion cub named Charlie comes inside the home. She eventually takes a liking to the lion. The two bond hard as they play around the cages and the house. Although over three years Charlie gets a little too big to be inside. Mia’s father doesn’t want her around the lion since it is a wild animal and not a trained pet. But she can’t say good bye to her huge feline friend. Things get hairy when Mia discovers that her father isn’t selling their lions to zoos around the world. She isn’t going to let her dad sell Charlie to his main client. But can she fully go against her family?

Mia and the White Lion is the Boyhood of nature films. Director Gilles de Maistre wanted absolute realism and took three years to shoot the movie so that his actress could grow up with the various lions that played Charlie. These aren’t a bunch of CGI felines that populate the screen in the upcoming The Lion King. The time difference also allows the actress who played Mia to grow up on screen.

Skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know her father’s big secret. The movie deals with how rich people fly over to Africa to “hunt” big game by shooting captive and “friendly” predators in the barely wild. These are the people who get shamed on social media when they show off their big capture. While some people might be upset that the rich people who pay to shoot leashed animals don’t have their say in the film, who cares?

Mia and the White Lion is a fun film with a serious message. There’s a feeling of tension and danger on the screen from multiple sources as Mia tries to save Charlie. But it’s not too scary so it’ll frighten grade school kids. The real lions on the screen are impressive. Although I don’t want one for a pet.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The resolution allows you to enjoy the details in the lions as they grown up. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Surround. There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD Mix so the growls only come from the front of the house. The French dub is 5.1 DTS-HD. The movie is subtitled in English.

Interview with director Gilles de Maistre (7:25) talks about how it was started when he did a piece on children with wild animals. He met a kid living in a lion farm and turns out the parents weren’t selling them to zoo. So it’s based on a true story.

DVD with the film and bonus features.

Interview with Daniah De Villiers (3:32) includes her talking about working with lions.

The Making of Mia and the White Lion (2:56) shows off the animals. They made the film over the time so that the actors could get used to lions. They really did start production with the lions as cubs so they grew up with the actors in their life.

The Extraordinary Friendship (2:15) is about lion whispering.

Deleted Scenes (5:25) shows there’s a lot of wildness in the remote house.

Casting Footage (5:56) has Daniah De Villiers with a stuffed co-star.

Theatrical Trailer (1:38) is about the incredible animals including the white lion.

Still Gallery (1:55) has production pics.

Shout! Factory presents Mia and the White Lion. Directed by: Gilles de Maistre. Screenplay by: Prune de Maistre & William Davies. Starring: Daniah De Villiers, Mélanie Laurent, Langley Kirkwood & Ryan Mac Lennan. Rated: Unrated. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: July 2, 2019.

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