This all sounds familiar since all of Disney's straight-to-video sequels have played it very safe, nearly repeating the originals' story, tone, and pace. Perhaps there were too many cooks for this production. Besides the two screenplay credits, there are eight other writers credited for additional written material. The look of the film has none of the surprise of the original but is far superior to other animated videos. In fact, the film played in European theaters.
For kids, the sequel will be a favorite. The comic antics of Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumba (Ernie Sabella) are enjoyable, as is Andy Dick as Nuka, the mixed-up older son of Zira. And there's plenty of action. The best element is the music. Relying on more African-influenced music, the five songs featured are far superior to those in Disney's other sequels. Zira's song of revenge, "My Lullaby," was cowritten by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon. The standout opening number, "He Lives in You," was created for the Lion King Broadway smash and now finds a whole new audience. --Doug Thomas
Perhaps it was because of the films major success as the highest grossing animated film of all time, but somehow when it came time to make Simba's Pride, the producers put a little extra effort into it.
The animation is close to the original's quality. Crisp beautiful colors saturate the African landscape and much of the fire is computer animated. It's obvious the animators took their time to make it a beautiful looking film.
Also, it avoided another common fall of the direct-to-video market: almost all of the voice talent returns. Even James Earl Jones supplies a few lines as Mufasa.
The story, though very similar to the original, is fitting and has enough twists to seem fresh. This is the story of Simba's daughter, not Simba. Sure this is definitely an unnecessary sequel, but as far as unnecessary sequels, this one holds its own.
If there was one major failing of this film, it's that the new songs are pretty pathetic. Compared to the original songs by Elton John and company, these ones lack their emotion and catchiness. The opening song is beautiful, but it is lifted from a "songs inspired by the Lion King" album released just after the original film came out. Fortunately, the film manages not to re-use songs from the original film, which always feels like a cop-out.
Also, there are just a few times in the film where the pacing feels rushed. Compared to other direct-to-video films, this is much better in the pacing department, but there are still a few minor problems. Mostly nit-picks.
Overall, this one is the exception to the Disney video sequel rule. Unfortunately the songs still left a bad taste in my mouth, bad enough to give it only 3 stars. But it's a high 3 stars!
And it was. In 1998, Disney got most of the principal voice-over actors back from the original---Matthew Broderick as Simba, Moira Kelly as Nala, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella as Timon & Pumbaa, respectively, and of course, Robert Guillaume as the hilarious Rafiki---and made THE LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE, which follows our favorite Lion hero (and King) & family as they pick up from where they left off in the first film. Now Simba is the King and his young offspring is a lioness cub named Kiara; he's the worried dad in this one, always fearing for the safety of the young precocious girl, but they're nevertheless a happy family just the same. Of course, danger lurks in the shadows, as Zira (Suzanne Pleshette---yes, *that* Suzanne Pleshette), the villainous ex-mate of Scar, is training her young son Kovu to grow up to avenge Scar's death by killing Simba. However, Rafiki, the silly-acting but nevertheless wise monkey, finds out to his horrified amazement that Kiara and Kovu are destined for each other. Sure enough, Kiara and Kovu meet each other as cubs and take an immediate strong liking to each other. Can true love overcome true evil?
This film, by itself, is very well-written and acted, with excellent production values for the fact that it is a direct-to-video sequel. It has really no flaws of its own, just one obvious inconsistency between it and the first film: Scar's 'ex-mate' Zira (and, by extension, Kovu) simply did not exist in the original THE LION KING! She was obviously made up just to have a sequel. However, this is the only major thing to overlook, and if you can forgive this movie for it, then you should be able to easily enjoy yourself. As I said, this is a good animated movie, and I recommend it for any fan of the original. This sequel isn't quite as dark; however, I still would not recommend showing it to very young kids. Suzanne Pleshette does a surprisingly good job as the evil, scheming, vengeful Zira (basically a female versdion of old Scar himself). Neve Campbell does a solid job as the voice of the adult Kiara, and Jason Marsden does excellently as the conflicted Kovu, who wants to do good, but...he made a promise to his mother...didn't he?!
Listen, THE LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE is not the masterpiece that THE LION KING is...however, it is much better than it perhaps should be. Fans of the original should definitely own it.
RECOMMENDED, AGES 8 & UP
The concept was nice enough, I suppose. But I found the move to be lacking in so many ways. Read more