The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (later retitled The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride) is a 1998 American animated direct-to-video romantic musical film and a sequel to Disney’s 1994 animated feature film, The Lion King. The story takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa and was influenced by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. According to Rooney, the final draft gradually became a variation of Romeo and Juliet.
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Australia and released on October 27, 1998, the film centers on Simba and Nala’s daughter Kiara, who falls in love with Kovu, a male rogue lion from a banished pride that was once loyal to Simba’s evil uncle, Scar. Separated by Simba’s prejudice against the banished pride and a vindictive plot planned by Kovu’s mother Zira, Kiara and Kovu struggle to unite their estranged prides and be together.
Most of the original cast returned to their roles from the first film, apart from Rowan Atkinson, who was replaced by Edward Hibbert as the voice of Zazu for this film and its prequel, The Lion King 1½ and Jeremy Irons, who was briefly replaced by Jim Cummings as the voice of Scar.
Yeah, the whole idea that Scar took in this rogue lion when there was never any indication that Scar had the time to do so in the first movie? That really sums up a lot of the problems with the film, some of the stuff that they set up from the past film don’t really connect and the script never does a good job of sticking with continuity with events in the first film.
But other than that, the movie is not too bad itself.
It’s kind of interesting that they got the majority of the voice cast back from the first film although to be honest, they don’t really breath a lot of new life to the project themselves, they’re kind of there to just be the same characters they were in the first movie, which isn’t a bad thing but now you’re working with a script that’s not as strong as the original movie is.
A lot of the new life breathed into this movie comes with the newer characters, Kiara, voiced by Neve Campbell, is an excellent new addition to the storyline and her and Kovu, voiced by Jason Marsden, Max from A Goofy Movie, share a really good chemistry together in the film. Zira, while a generic villain, is nicely played by Suzanne Pleshette, her voice just perfectly fits that role very well and Andy Dick is kind of the comedic relief for the bad guys as Zira’s son and he can get a couple of decent funny moments in there as well.
From an animation standpoint, it’s hard to top what was done in the original film but as far as a direct-to-video movie goes, the movie still looks pretty impressive proving that even half of the budget from the first movie can still look pretty impressive.
The story does a good job taking homages to Romeo & Juliet like the first film did with Hamlet and for the most part, the script is nicely handled.
The biggest surprise was the songs in this movie, there are actually some really nicely done songs written by a whole new group of people who didn’t write the songs for the first movie. He Lives In You is a surprisingly effective counterpart to the first film’s Circle Of Life that opens this movie up:
My favorite song is We Are One, which I remember they used to show as the preview for the video’s release when they replayed The Lion King on The Wonderful World Of Disney in time for the release of the film:
Still can’t believe that’s the voice of Leonardo and Rocksteady doing the singing voices for Simba in that song.
Of all the Disney direct-to-video sequels, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride is one of the better ones managing to keep a lot of the good things that made the first film a great movie and adding new elements to breathe new life to it. Definitely not as great as the first movie but a worthy follow-up that’s worth the watch.
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