The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

1998, Movie, NR, 81 mins

Review

LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE, THE
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Although of a slightly higher quality than Disney's previous made-for-video animated sequels, THE LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE comes nowhere near the level of its big-screen predecessor (which is the fourth-highest grossing film of all-time worldwide), either musically or artistically.

Kiara (voice of Neve Campbell), the daughter of Simba the Lion King (voice of Matthew Broderick) and his mate Nala (voice of Moira Kelly), is a free-spirit who is always wandering off in the African Pride Lands. Escaping her bumbling babysitters Timon (voice of Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (voice of Ernie Sabella), Kiara runs off to the forbidden Outlands. There, she befriends Kovu (voice of Jason Marsden), who's the son of Zira (voice of Suzanne Pleshette), an outcast lioness who was a friend of the late Scar, and who has been exiled by Simba. As Kovu grows, Zira plots to use his friendship with Kiara to destroy Simba, but Kovu's obedience to his vengeful mother begins to wane as he and Kiara fall in love. The betrayed Zira ambushes Simba and makes it look like Kovu set him up, but Simba escapes and exiles Kovu. Kiara runs after Kovu and brings him back, just in time to help break up an impending battle between Zira's and Simba's forces. When Zira's warriors turn on her, she tries to kill Kiara, but falls into a river and is killed, and Simba welcomes Kovu into his family.

After several substandard made-for-video animated sequels, Disney had a chance to finally get one right with a worthy follow-up to their 1994 classic, but they blew it by taking the cheap route once again, as THE LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE is just another undistinguished and formulaic marketing "product." Produced by Disney's television animation units in Australia and Canada, the artwork competently imitates the lush look of the original, but is rarely inspired and has a cut-rate appearance, as evidenced by the skimpy backgrounds and limited action. Aside from the poignant story about parent-child bonding, one of the reasons that THE LION KING was so good was because its Oscar-winning score was not only perfectly integrated into the story, but the superb songs by Elton John and Tim Rice could also stand on their own. By contrast, the new songs shoehorned here are totally unmemorable and all too obviously designed to sound like the original hits, notably the precredit "He Lives in You," which copies the "Circle of Life," and the jaunty "Upendi," which echoes the classic "Hakuna Matata." While the original story could be described as BAMBI-meets-Hamlet, this one borrows from the Bard's Romeo and Juliet for its cliched young-lovers-from-feuding-families plot, along with a simplistic "hate destroys" and "can't we all just get along" message. Though most of the original characters and their voices are back, they all sound bored, apart from the zesty addition of Suzanne Pleshette as the scheming Zira. The overall result is OK for kids, who will enjoy the low humor provided by the comical meerkat Timon and the flatulent warthog Pumbaa, but it could have been so much better. leave a comment

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