The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride

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Rating: G

Starring:
Matthew Broderick as Simba (voice)
Moira Kelly as Nala (voice)
Neve Campbell as Adult Kiara (voice)
Michelle Horn as Young Kiara (voice)
Suzanne Pleshette as Zira (voice)
Andy Dick as Nuka (voice)
Ryan O’Donohue as Young Kovu (voice)
Jason Marsden as Adult Kovu (voice)
Lacey Chabert as Young Vitani (voice)
Jennifer Lien as Adult Vitani (voice)
Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa (voice)
Nathan Lane as Timon (voice)
Robert Guillaume as Rafiki (voice)
James Earl Jones as Mufasa (voice)
Edward Hibbert as Zazu (voice)

Special Features:
All New “One by One” Animated Short

Lion King’s Matter of Facts

Disney’s Song Selection

“Find Out Why” Shorts

Lots About Lions

Proud of Simba’s Pride

Timon & Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari 2.0

“Rafiki’s Challenge” Game

Pride Land Games

“Love Will Find A Way” Music Video

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.66:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
THX Certified
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French & Spanish Language Tracks
Running Time: 81 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released straight to video in 1998. It is returning now in this special edition.

Picking up immediately where The Lion King left off, we see that Simba and Nala have actually had a daughter named Kiara rather than a son. As she grows up, she ends up being just as mischievous and adventurous as her father was when he was a cub. This leads her into the Badlands where she meets Kovu. It turns out that Kovu is the cub of Zira, one of the lionesses banished from the Pride Lands after Scar was killed. Despite hitting it off with Kovu, Simba forbids Kiara from associating with the banished lions.

Years later, Zira continues to hate Simba. She has raised Kovu to get into the Pride Lands as a friend of Kiara’s and kill Simba. Kovu is successful in being accepted, but he soon finds himself caring for Kiara and her friends. Will he kill Simba or betray his mother and family?

The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride is rated G.

The Movie:
Unfortunately, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride isn’t as good as its predecessor. It’s not quite as funny. The songs aren’t as memorable. The plot isn’t terribly original either. While it doesn’t measure up to The Lion King on any front, it’s still decent entertainment for kids and it’s fun revisiting some of the characters that audiences have come to know and love.

The story is essentially the Lion King version of Romeo and Juliet. You have the two warring families fighting around our star crossed lovers. You have the forbidden romance between Kovu and Kiara. The only difference is that our heroes don’t commit suicide at the end. Instead we have the appropriate Disney ending to the cartoon. Unfortunately, this sequel lacks the humor and wit of the first film. You have a little comic relief from Timon and Pumbaa, but not to the extent that there was before. The story is also rather predictable. You can guess the ending in almost the first 10 minutes. While The Lion King was predictable as well, there was enough humor and entertainment on the side to make it enjoyable. This film also borrows too heavily from the original. You have an “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” type song. You have a musical number similar to Scar’s “Be Prepared”. You have another “Circle of Life” type scene. You even have a similar big battle at the end. There’s not a lot new here.

The songs are also only so-so. Since Elton John wasn’t involved on this round, you can’t expect them to measure up. “One Of Us” is about the best of the lot and is a stirring, uplifting song. The opening song “He Lives In You” by Lebo M. is also quite impressive. You may recognize it from the Rhythm of the Pride Lands CD or The Lion King play. They would have done well to snatch more songs from that CD, but instead they opt for the more mediocre ones found here.

The animation is a bit if a mixed bag. Some scenes look like they were prepared for the big screen. The motion of the characters is smooth and well animated. Other scenes look like they were made for TV since they are jumpy. It’s almost like they decided halfway through creating the film to go from a theatrical release to a straight t video release. At least that’s what the quality of the animation looks like.

One thing they did right was to get the original voice cast back together (except for Mr. Bean as Zazu). Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella return as Timon and Pumbaa. Matthew Broderick returns as Simba. Robert Guillaume is also back as Rafiki. New additions to the cast include Neve Campbell as Adult Kiara and Andy Dick as Nuka. They do their jobs well enough but their performances don’t really stand out. Suzanne Pleshette plays the evil Zira. Years of smoking have made Pleshette’s voice appropriately sinister sounding.

Overall, I think if you liked The Lion King then you’ll enjoy The Lion King 2. Kids will certainly love it. However, it doesn’t measure up to the original film. It’s just another example of how Disney follows up their hit films with weak sequels that go straight to video. Instead of trying to recapture the magic of the first film, it comes across as a half-hearted attempt to get your money. They did this with Cinderella 2, 101 Dalmatians 2, Beauty and the Beast sequels, and more. Only Toy Story 2 was saved from a second rate release and you can credit Pixar for that. All this being said, though, The Lion King 2 is still worth checking out for the kiddies.

The Extras:
There are quite a few extras included on this Special Edition DVD:

All New “One by One” Animated Short – This is a great new short film using another song from the Rhythm of the Pride Lands CD featuring Lebo M. It’s a slightly different rendition of “One By One”. In this film, young children from an African slum put together some kites, run out into a field, and fly them. It’s a beautiful piece of animation with some fanciful imagery and a rousing song. I would have loved to have seen this on the big screen. You’ll definitely enjoy it though there are no singing animals in it.

Lion King’s Matter of Facts – With this feature activated, windows with trivia will pop up as you view the film. It’s a fun extra to watch if you’ve seen Lion King 2 before.

Disney’s Song Selection – With this you can skip straight to the songs in the film and see the words for them appear at the bottom of the screen.

“Find Out Why” Shorts – These are a series of short videos featuring Timon and Pumbaa answering science questions like why there is lightning, why we sneeze, why pandas don’t live in the desert, why there is wind, and why and airplane flies. I believe these were shown on TV at one time for kiddies. They sound like the voices of Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, too. They are fun to check out though they are brief.

Lots About Lions – Timon and Pumbaa rattle off all sorts of trivia about lions as stock footage rolls in the background. Oddly, though, they show one scene of an American Mountain Lion despite the video being about African lions. I guess the editor wasn’t up on their animal trivia while putting this together.

Proud of Simba’s Pride – This is a “making of” feature discussing the new characters, the development of the story, the songs, and more.

Timon & Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari 2.0 – This is one of the more fun extras on the DVD. Like the Safari on the other Lion King DVDs, this features Timon and Pumbaa taking you on a virtual trip through Africa. Unfortunately, there are fewer choices to make in this video and the animation seems cruder, but it’s still amusing. Look for cameos by other Disney characters including Stitch.

“Rafiki’s Challenge” Game – This is a shell game featuring Rafiki.

Pride Land Games – In this game you do math games featuring Timon eating bugs.

“Love Will Find A Way” Music Video – This is a music video featuring Heather Headley and Kenny Lattimore singing the music from the credits. It’s not a very impressive song. They are also shown singing in front of clips from the movie and the large tree at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Bottom Line:
Kids will enjoy The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, but adults will probably enjoy going back and watching the first film more. The extras on this Special Edition are fun, though.

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