The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride Review

From the mid-90s to the early aughts, Disney opened its vaults, scanned its works that both audiences and critics lauded, and then decided to sequel them. Among the many victims was 1994’s The Lion King, which wasn’t just a great film, but the highest grossing traditionally animated film of all-time. Its sequel, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride does not live up to the original’s legacy. While it’s not the formulaic garbage that many of the other direct-to-video sequels are, when compared to the classic the musical numbers are flat, the animation seems visually cheaper, and the story makes little to no sense if you were paying attention to the first film. It may bring the original voice cast back, but that means nothing when put in the hands of Darrell Rooney, whose entire directing career was one of the driving forces behind Disney’s poor sequel choices.

After Simba (Matthew Broderick) won back the Pridelands from his treacherous uncle Scar, he and Nala (Moira Kelly) began their own family and soon had their daughter, Kiara (Neve Campbell). One day while she’s out exploring, Kiara slips away from Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) and meets Kovu (Jason Marsden), the son of Scar, whose mother then plots to retake the throne by having the two kids become friends with Kovu killing Simba unexpectedly. The plan to take down Simba doesn’t go exactly as hoped, and instead Kovu works hard to redeem his father’s legacy of deception and prove himself worthy of Kiara’s love in Simba’s eyes.

For now, let’s ignore the fact that in the real world an alpha male lion like Simba would have eaten Kovu as a cub the first time they met, especially given who his father was. What’s even more confusing though is why Kovu, his siblings, his mothers, or the other Scar-loyal lionesses weren’t present at Pride Rock at the end of The Lion King. If Scar had taken over Pride Rock for years before Simba came back and reclaimed his throne, why did he have a harem that he kept in the Badlands? It might seem like we’re thinking too hard, but the problem is the lack of thought that went into the story on Disney’s part. It’s as if the writer didn’t even watch The Lion King, they just applied the same reversal formula that they used in the other direct-to-video Disney movies, but blurred the lines a little because it didn’t fit the framework for The Lion King.

For adults who sit down and watch it with their kids, it will be obvious just how low the standard was in the animation and the music. The songs feel barebones with nowhere near the melodic or harmonic depths of the original’s, and there are moments when the visuals look like the animators didn’t bother to draw in the final details. Characters appear as blurry colored shapes.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

A couple of Timon & Pumbaa-centric extras prove to be amusing, more for the kids than the parents, and an animated short and music video will elicit a similar reaction from the audience. Finally a look at the creation of Simba’s pride is the last featurette on the disc.

"The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride" is on sale March 6, 2012 and is rated G. Adventure, Animation, Children & Family. Directed by Rob LaDuca, Darrell Rooney. Written by Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus. Starring Ernie Sabella, James Earl Jones, Jason Marsden, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Neve Campbell, Robert Guillaume.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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