Plot: What’s it about?
We all know the deal from The Lion King, right? Simba wins the Pride Lands for his people, and takes over the reigns as king of the circle of life. He banished Scar’s people to the Outlands, and everyone was happy as clams. Well, in The Lion King 2, we find out not everyone is so happy, at least not those banished anyway. Simba’s daughter, Kiara, is a stubborn tomboy, and never listens to Simba’s advice. Simba tries to prepare Kiara for when she takes over the Pride Lands, but she’s more worried about making friends and having fun to stress over the future. Simba sees the chance for her to get into danger, so he assigns the comedic duo of Timon and Pumbaa to look after her. Of course, she easily escapes their watchful eyes, and soon finds herself in the Outlands, where she meets Kovu. We later learn that Kovu was chosen to follow in Scar’s paw prints, and that doesn’t sit well with Simba. The longer they are around each other, the more Kovu and Kiara like each other, and the more bitter the rivalry between the Pride Lands and the Outlands gets. Can the two sides put aside their differences and create a world they can all live happily in? Or will world collide, and leave the feelings of Kiara and Kovu behind?
In 1994, Disney’s The Lion King was an animated tour de force, going on to be the most successful Disney animated feature of all time. With that type of success comes the temptation for a sequel, or even sequels. Such is the case with The Lion King, which spawned this film, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. Instead of releasing the picture theatrically, Disney opted to port this flick right to video, and now DVD. Now, this leads to issues such as animation quality, voice actors, and the like. While the animation in The Lion King 2 is not the same caliber as it’s prequel, it is good animation. The only things missing from this sequel are the details and the fluidity. The details in The Lion King are deep and complex, but this film’s animation seems flat and almost rushed. It also seems like frames were skipped, as the animation is not nearly as smooth as it’s prequel. The voice acting on the other hand is great, with several returning talents. Matthew Broderick is back as the voice of Simba, Robert Guillaume takes another turn as Rafiki, and of course, the original voices of Timon and Pumbaa, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, are back. The last two were key for this film, as those two characters needed to be there, with their original voice workers, because they work their characters so well and provide great comedic relief.
Now, if you have children who love this movie, by all means, pick it up. Your VHS tape will be worn out after six months, so you might as well invest the money so you have a copy that will last. But I don’t think you should buy this disc sight unseen, as it just doesn’t measure up to The Lion King. While the animation is decent, it’s not up to Disney’s reputation, and lacks the detail and smoothness of other features. Even the return of the original voice cast’s major stars can’t bring this film up to must have status. The storyline is not very good, it’s just too predictable. I know, most of Disney’s animated features are, but this seems like a rip off of The Lion King, not a sequel. But, all things said, if you’ve seen the movie and you enjoy it, or you just have to buy all the Disney discs, then this is a nice release. This new Special Edition delivers improved audiio and video, not to mention some decent supplements, so the previous edition is ancient history. The movie isn’t the best, but Disney’s new Special Edition is a solid treatment.
Video: How does it look?
Simba’s Pride is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a brand new visual treatment, one which is a welcome improvement over the previous release. If you’ve seen the prior release, then you know it looked solid, but the addition of anamorphic enhancement puts this new version over the top. The image has much more depth and refinement, which allows the visuals to be crisper and subtle detail is more evident. No complaints with colors either, as hues come across as bright and vivid throughout, while contrast produces stark and consistent black levels as well, so this movie looks excellent. As expected, the print is in superb condition and debris, grain, and other flaws never prove to be an issue. So kudos to Disney for refusing to recycle the old transfer, as this new edition is sure to delight fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
The overhaul wasn’t limited to the video either, as Disney has worked some magic with the soundtrack as well. The same Dolby Digital 5.1 track returns and sounds solid as ever, but a new DTS option has also been included here. I wasn’t all that impressed with the Dolby Digital option, then or now, but the DTS track adds some extra kick. Not enough to dazzle, but enough to make for a more immersive experience. The songs have the most depth, but now the action driven scenes have a little more punch and even reserved sequences have a better overall sound. So in this case, the inclusion of a DTS soundtrack was a very wise decision. This release also includes French and Spanish audio options, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is a Special Edition geared more children, so don’t expect much in terms of production information. The lone extra on the first disc is a special pop-up video style information track, which tells about some of the film’s animals. Not well designed or executed, this proves to be an almost total waste of disc space. On the second disc, we have a ten minute behind the scenes featurette, a quick look inside the world of lions, a strange instructional piece, a music video for Love Will Find a Way, an assortment of interactive games and activities for the kids, and One by One, an original animated short.