81 Min. | Animation – Adventure – Family | October 1998
IMDB Rating: 6.4
Director: Darrell Rooney, Rob LaDuca
Staring: Matthew Broderick, Neve Campbell, Andy Dick
The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride Review: ‘The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride’ revolves around Kiara, Simba’s daughter. Simba, clearly affected by his own traumatic cubhood, is overly protective of her, and Kiara interprets this as a lack of trust. Which it kind of was, actually. Meanwhile, it turns out that the whole time Scar had a pride of emo-lions all of his own. We didn’t see in the first film because we didn’t, that’s why. Anyway, the short of it is that these lions are rather embittered at Simba killing Scar and exiling them to the outlands. Zira (who is presumably Scar’s sister or widow) spends all her time plotting to overthrow Simba. One thing leads to another and Kiara and Kovu (Scar’s chosen successor – not his son because that would be gross) fall in love. So if ‘The Lion King’ was ‘Hamlet’, then this is ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
The main problem with ‘The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride’ is that, like Simba, it’s trying far too hard to be like its predecessor. Zira is essentially a female Scar, and she even sings a plotting, scheming song a-la ‘Be Prepared’. Then there’s Nuka, a goofy, complain-a-lot lion in Zira’s pride who is basically a leonine Banzai. There are also numerous shots and moments that consciously echo the original. That’s not to say that every recurring element is bad. The returning characters are well handled and true to themselves – Simba is as clueless and well meaning as ever, and Timon and Pumbaa are back in top comic relief form. Best of all they’re all voiced by their original actors! Well, except for Zazu, and his replacement is truly awful. As for the new characters, the acting is more than prone to the occasional wobble. Though one must remember that this is a straight-to-video sequel.
Another side-effect of this straight-to-video-ness is the animation. As you might expect it’s not up to the standard of the original and, less excusably, it’s not even consistent in quality. However, the feature that arguably has the most living up to to do is the music. Well, this time the music is far from perfect and more than a little corny, but it’s fun. Hey, Rafiki sings a song – that’s got fun written all over it! On top of that, Rafiki and Zira aside, the singing voices don’t really match the speaking ones very well. Matthew Broderick might be back voicing Simba, but Joseph Williams isn’t singing for him. OK, so the animation and soundtrack and pretty much everything about ‘Simba’s Pride’ exemplify the principle of diminishing returns. Even so, one cannot deny that it’s still a good film, and a considerably better than some that Disney released cinematically in the late 90’s. The story is solid, the music is fun, and the characters are true to themselves. So ‘The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride’ is not as good as the original, but it stands on its own as worth seeing.