(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride)
Doug (vo): When I started telling people I was doing the direct-to-DVD sequels, a lot of people were saying that Lion King II actually was okay. And...yeah, I see what they're talking about. It's probably the best way to describe it: okay. Is it the first film? No. But is it Belle's Magical World? No. It's not good, it's not bad, it's not incredible, but it's not awful either. It's a perfect middle-of-the-road film that you would probably expect.
Doug (vo): Simba and Nala have given birth to a bouncing baby girl named Kiara, voiced by Neve Campbell. Simba shows her the ropes, just like his father did, but it turns out there's a dark, shadowy place that they need to stay away from. No, not the hyenas. Now it's the Outsiders, a group of lions that liked the leadership of Scar and vowed to get the land back. Their leader, named Zira, is training a lion cub named Kovu to be a cold-blooded killer who grows up, kills Simba, and ultimately takes control. Why him? Well, apparently, he's a...not-descendant from Scar. Yeah, it's a little confusing. He's not his son, but Scar took him in as his own, even though there was...never anything in the last movie that showed that he did. It's...pretty forced and stupid, but...d'oh, it makes the message in the end so much stronger! Kiara, of course, befriends Kovu, but they're told that they're gonna grow up to be natural enemies. A few years pass, and, seemingly, it looks like Kovu wants to leave his pack, having saved Kiara's life and using that as leverage to join Simba. What they don't know is that Kovu is actually planning to kill Simba when he has the chance. Wouldn't you know it, the two [Kiara and Kovu] just happen to get along, and, of course, fall in love, and that makes things really complicated. Will love prevail and the two warring sides see their faults? Is this as clear metaphor for Romeo and Juliet as the first one was for Hamlet? Personally, I think it's clever that they're taking from Shakespeare's second-biggest play after his first-biggest play. Apart from a few other things, but...that's another story.
(A poster for the anime series, Kimba the White Lion, is shown)
Doug (vo): The old characters like Simba, Timon, Pumbaa and Zazu all feel kind of recycled, even with the original voice actors coming back. But the new characters and their voice actors seem to breathe this very likeable life into them. I really like the people they got to play the new parts, where the original actors, while not all bad, just kind of feel like they're doing their usual shtick. Rafiki has a song that doesn't really add much. Simba has a cool dream sequence, but outside of that, he's just kind of the mean father. Nala's practically pointless, Timon and Pumbaa...well, I didn't even like that much in the first film, so now in the sequel, we get the table scraps of that comedy. But everyone else really seems to care about this story, even if it doesn't always make sense.
(Several scenes are shown, mostly to describe the film's animation. Some scenes from the first movie are shown as well)
Doug (vo): It's almost cruel to compare the animation of this one to the original, as the original was one of the biggest animated movies ever made. It's just huge. It's one of the few films where if they re-release it, I go to see it on the big screen every time. Now we have that animation budget cut in half, and what do you expect? It's direct-to-video. And as direct-to-video goes, it's...not bad. They still have some of that nice line work and try to work in some good backgrounds, but, yeah. You're always going to be comparing it to how good the first one looked, and that's always gonna be a little distracting. But honestly, for what it is, it's pretty decent.
(Several song sequences are shown)
Doug (vo): The songs, I surprisingly kind of like. I even found myself humming some of them after the movie was done. "We Are One" is a nice melody, "In Upendi", while pointless, is still a nice rhythm, and even the song "He Lives in You". I think that's in the Broadway version, isn't it? So you know that's got to be pretty solid.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): In many respects, the film doesn't need to exist. The first Lion King truly was a spectacle to look at, and when you do a direct-to-DVD movie that's trying to capture something similar, you know you're not gonna get it, so it almost seems pointless. But, if I was forced to make a direct-to-video sequel on The Lion King, this is probably what I would turn in, too. There is a lot of effort in what I'm sure is not a lot of time and not a lot of money...at least, by Disney feature film standards. Is it awkward at times? Yeah. But it does have enough character to it that, even though I felt like I knew what was gonna happen, I still wanted to see it happen. If it was a feature film, I'd probably be a little harder on it. But since it's a direct-to-video movie, I think it's okay. It gave me exactly what I expected and nothing really more, but I wasn't expecting more. If anything, I was expecting less. If you want to see something on par with the first Lion King, you're definitely not gonna get that here, but honestly, I don't know anyone who thinks they're gonna get that. If you want to see sort of a TV sequel with better-than-TV animation, I think this one's fine. Kind of a middle-of-the-road review, but it's kind of a middle-of-the-road movie. Pop it in and judge for yourself.
(The film's final scene, showing Simba, Nala, Kiara and Kovu all standing together at the top of Pride Rock, is shown)