81 Min | Animation – Adventure – Family | October 1998
IMDB Rating: 6.4
Directors: Darrell Rooney, Rob LaDuca
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Neve Campbell, Andy Dick
The Lion King 2 Review: ‘The Lion King 2’ 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 spends all her time plotting to overthrow Simba. One thing leads to another and Kiara and Kovu fall in love. So if ‘The Lion King’ was ‘Hamlet’, then The Lion King 2 ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Sort of.
The main problem with ‘The Lion King 2’ 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. Not to mention ‘Upendi’ – a song that is clearly trying to fill an ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ shaped niche. There are also numerous shots and moments that consciously echo the original. To me this essentially highlights the fact that ‘The Lion King 2’ is walking in the shadow of a much better film. 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 The Lion King 2 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. OK, so the animation and soundtrack and pretty much everything about ‘The Lion King 2’ 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.