Saturday, August 31, 2013

Disney Sequelester - The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

Guys, I think I'm getting spoiled.

Let's not even play. The Lion King II: Simba's Pride is a good movie. Hell, even Roger Ebert liked it! So hardline criticism is a little ridiculous.

The thing about Simba's Pride is that it actually feels like a sequel, in a way that none of the other "sequels" do. While Pocahontas II and Aladdin III aren't bad movies, they don't feel like true sequels. Their tone and content is such a departure from the source material that they seem to be completely separate entities.

Simba's Pride is an honest-to-God sequel, to the point that it mirrors the original movie almost scene-for-scene. We have the same opening with the song that starts quietly and ends on this triumphant, bombastic finish with the cub being held up by Rafiki and adored by all the animals that it will one day eat.

It's very nice of them to trek all this way to see their
most feared predator!
We have the same shift to childhood that starts with the kid wanting to wake up and play. We have the same "kid does dangerous thing because they want an adventure", and the same lecture from the parental figure. We have the same shift to adulthood, and love interest from the past coming back into the main character's life. Etc. Even the songs all have mirrors, except for "One of Us", the song that accompanies Kovu's banishment, which is kind of unintentionally hilarious.

At times the extreme homages get a little "been there, done that", but on the other hand, it's pretty satisfying to actually get to see Simba all grown up. In movies like The Return of Jafar and The Little Mermaid II, the characters seem to have undergone some extreme personality transplant, in part because of poor writing and in part because the plot demands it.

"We have to keep Melody away from the water!"
Because this parenting method worked so well on you, Ariel. Good plan.
The Simba of this movie has grown and changed, but is still recognizable. He's a mix of himself and his father, in a believable way. He's overprotective of his daughter Kiara, but in a way that makes sense. And there's still flashes of the lovable, mischievous cub we saw in the first movie.

Part of the reason Simba's Pride is so good may be that it was the earliest movie to have a sequel considered for it: they were actually planning for this sequel before the movie even came out. Obviously it got put off, but you can tell that love and thought went into the making of this movie (if not so much money - there's definitely places where you can see the corners that got cut.) The music isn't at all bad - in particular, Kiara's theme is very memorable. Even the singing isn't bad! Also, Joss Whedon worked on it. For whatever that's worth.

The new characters are almost all engaging and interesting. Simba's daughter Kiara is so likable that the switch in main character is no loss at all. Kovu, her love interest, is basically the Jordan Catalano of lions.

Rafiki is a little less omniscient and a little more "yell at the wind that is Mufasa" in this one, but it's not distractingly bad. The new villain, Zira, is actually much more menacing than Scar, who was definitely on the "fabulous" end of the gene pool. Zira freaks me out.

She's Kovu's mother and the dictator of all the lions that have been banished from the Pride Lands to... a termite mound. What? IDK. Anyway they're really bitter about it, and want VENGEANCE for Scar's death. But Zira wasn't his mate, because the movie expressly tells us that Kovu wasn't Scar's son. Soooo... whose son is he, then? NEVER EXPLAINED! But Zira has plans for Kovu. Scary plans. Her big villain song is about... well, let me just quote an excerpt for you.
The sound of Simba's dying gasp
His daughter squealing in my grasp
His lionesses' mournful cry
That's my lullaby

This movie isn't truly on par with Disney's canon. The animation isn't fantastic, the movie jumps around a lot (partially in order to keep it in line with the first movie, and partially due to lesser screenwriting), and it just generally isn't as polished. But if you don't mind your movies a little rough around the edges, you'll probably enjoy Simba's Pride. I did. In spite of the blatant title pun. And in spite of the fact that "fanfiction" kept popping up after the title as a suggested Google search term, which freaks me out. I don't think the world needs lion fanfiction.

Wow, that's two decent movies in a row. I'm getting spoiled! I wonder if the next one...

Never mind.


  1. Adored by the animals it will one day eat. Lol!

    Um, Kovu looks exactly like Scar. Lol!

    Never saw this. Guess I was put off by the Lion King 1.5? I don't know. Seems worth a watch though.

    You're joking about the lion fanfiction, right?

    1. Unfortunately, I'm really really not joking about the lion fanfiction. Admittedly I didn't click on anything, but it's out there~~~~~~ waiting~~~~~~~