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The Lion King 2: Simba s Pride

The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride on DVD

by Johnny Bray

The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride takes everything you loved about the first Lion King and throws it in the garbage.

Upon initial inspection, it would appear to be the perfect sequel: the same characters, some brand new ones, the original voice cast (sans Rowan Atkinson, unfortunately), and a brand-new story.

You quickly learn, however, that it’s all just a sham. The story itself is pretty much the same, just shifted down a generation. This time it’s Simba’s daughter, Kiara (voiced by Neve Cambpell), that is the mischievous one, always disobeying her father and running off to find adventure on her own. And now that Scar is dead, his cronies are even more upset that those likable lions are running Pride Rock. Zira (Suzanne Pleshette) seems even less friendly than Scar, wanting nothing more than to kill Simba and every other lion who opposes them.

But sure enough, Zira’s son, Kovu (Jason Marsden) meets Kiara and the two hit it off. At that point the movie becomes a mixture of The Lion King and Romeo & Juliet, but if neither tale had any shred of entertainment value. The new characters are all pretty standard, none of them standing out. They do raise the question as to why Scar didn’t use all his lion friends to help him conquer Pride Rock in the first movie, rather than enlisting the help of his seemingly useless hyena buddies.

Unusual for a direct-to-video sequel, at least they managed to get the original voices back. But before you cheer, you should know that most of them not only have very little screen time, but most of them don’t even sound like the original voices. Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly, and even Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella all sound just a little bit off. And the aforementioned absence of Rowan Atkinson makes you wonder why they bothered to include Zazu at all if his voice was going to be so terrible this time around.

Oh yes, and the brand-new songs all pretty much suck. You can tell there was no collaboration with anyone who knows anything about writing songs, so they all just seem tacked on to continue the tradition.

On the other hand, even through all these complaints, The Lion King 2 is still a Disney animated feature and therefore watchable. There are plenty of bright colors and likeable (enough) characters and non-stop goings-on. If you’re easily charmed by the Disney fare, you’ll probably find enough in this sequel to keep you sufficiently entertained.

When The Lion King 2 was originally released to VHS in the late 90s, it became the biggest selling home video title of the year. Now, with its DVD release, it’s sure to become a massive hit again, even if the disc presentation is as standard as the movie.

Presented in “family-friendly” 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture sparkles. Colors are plentiful and very rich and sharp, and there is no dust or grain present anywhere on the screen. If they’d spent as much time on the movie as they did on the video, there would have been little to complain about.

Audio gives you the option of either Dolby Digital or dts 5.1 tracks, and both are pretty good. Surrounds are surprisingly timid considering all the action and singing and dancing in the film. Dialogue and most of the sound effects are separated nicely between the front channels, and while the rear speakers are working quite a bit, there’s just not the kind of volume or power you’d expect (or want).

It’s not hard to tell Disney is targeting the kiddies with the extras. Disc one features a fact track about lions and Africa and the like, and a song selection that lets you skip to any song in the movie (whoop-de-doo).

Disc two has plenty more, but most of it looks better than it is (and let’s just mention that this is yet another two-disc special edition that could easily have fit on one disc). First off is a brand-new animated short called “One by One,” and basically involves a kite flying while bad African music plays in the background. There are also some “Find Out Why” shorts in which Timon and Pumbaa give us some explanations for certain scientific phenomena like sneezing and wind. It’s kinda cute, but strictly for the wee ones. “Lots About Lions” is a short featurette about, well…lions. There’s also a short making-of featurette that’s pure fluff, a few interactive games, a music video, and another virtual safari with Timon and Pumbaa. Much like the first one, it’s a good idea and has promise, but it gets pretty old pretty fast.

Much like the movie, the DVD is much more likely to entertain kids than their parents. But if it’ll keep them occupied for a few minutes, it’s probably worth it.


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