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Lion King 2: Simba's Pride
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Another made-for-video sequel to a Disney masterpiece. As with the Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas sequels, most of the recognizable vocal talents return, creating a worthwhile successor to the highest-grossing animated film ever. We pick up the story as the lion king, Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick), and Nala (Moira Kelly) have a new baby cub, a girl named Kiara (Neve Campbell). Like her father before, she seeks adventure and ends up outside the Pridelands, where lions loyal to the evil Scar (who died in the original) have lived with revenge in their hearts. The leader, Zira (a spunky turn from Suzanne Pleshette), schemes to use her son Kovu (Jason Marsden) to destroy Simba. As luck with have it, Kiara has bumped into Kovu and fallen in love.
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
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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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
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