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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rob LaDuca and Darrell Rooney
Cast:
Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly, Neve Campbell, Liz Callaway, Michelle Horn, Ashley Edner, Charity Sanoy, Suzanne Pleshette, Andy Dick
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Cuba, Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus, Mark McCorkle, Bill Motz, Gregory Poirier, Bob Roth, Robert Schooley, Linda Voorhees, Jenny Wingfield

Tagline:
The Circle of Life Continues ...

Synopsis:
All the power and majesty of The Lion King return in this final volume of The Lion King trilogy! This Special Edition features an all-new vibrant picture presentation from the digital master.

Meet Kiara, Simba's headstrong daughter and heir to the Pride Lands. While on the prowl for adventure, she encounters the mischievous Kovu, a young member of the banished Outland Pride chosen to walk in Scar's paw prints. As they seek their proper places in the "Circle Of Life," Kiara and Kovu find that they may be the only hope for healing the rift between their prides!

The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride - Special Edition includes original cast members, stunning Disney animation, and six spectacular songs. Complete your family's Lion King collection with this enchanting film!

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.66:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 8/31/2004

Bonus:
Disc One
• “Lion King’s Matter-Of-Facts” Subtitle Track
• Disney’s Song Selection
Disc Two
• “One By One” Short
• “Find Out Why” Shorts
• “Lots About Lions” Featurette
• “Proud of Simba’s Pride” Featurette
• Timon and Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari 2.0
• “Rafiki’s Challenge” Game
• Pride Land Games
• “Love Will Find a Way” Music Video


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride (Special Edition) (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 31, 2004)

Although I'm a big fan of Disney's animated films, I'd never tried one of their "direct-to-video" (DTV) efforts before I originally got the DVD of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride in 1999. Perhaps this was video snobbery in action, since I assumed that the efforts would likely be substandard. Disney's release practices apparently demonstrated that with the theatrical appearance of Toy Story 2; that picture originally was slated as an DTV title but the execs changed their mind when they saw how good it turned out to be.

That fact indirectly damns the other sequels that were DTV, since it made it clear that Disney'd be more than happy to shove the films out to theaters if they were worth the effort. The fact I'd never heard much positive about Disney's DTV movies didn't help, either, but I thought I'd try to be open-minded and give Pride a shot.

While I'd like to say that my fears were unfounded, I cannot, but I can't say that Pride is a complete loss, either. It's a pleasant, fairly professional and watchable little effort that provides almost none of the pleasures I normally associate with Disney films. The movie seems competent but nothing more than that.

Pride really offers a remake of the first film. The first half of Pride rather closely duplicates the corresponding section of Lion King, and the rest ain't that different either, except the sequel becomes Romeo and Juliet while the original went for Hamlet. This obvious attempt to recapture the magic of Lion King backfires, however, because it only serves to remind us how inferior the sequel is; the original offered better music, better animation, a better script, and better acting.

That latter issue is almost surprising because so many of the original actors return for Pride. Of the principals, only Rowan Atkinson (Zazu) fails to appear. Among the new talents, a few name actors enter the mix; Neve Campbell, Suzanne Pleshette, and Andy Dick all turn up for the film. Actually, the only no-name with a major part is Jason Marsden as Kovu. (Campbell's Party of Five costar Lacey Chabert also provides some work, but only in a small capacity, I guess; she doesn't receive much of a billing.)

Despite this talent, the rehashed plot and weak script doom the film to mediocrity. The actors don't do a poor job, but they definitely don't sound as inspired as they did during the original. And can you blame them? Everything about this project screams "second rate."

The music especially falters. No Elton John and Tim Rice this time; we get a weak score from Nick Glennie-Smith. The actual songs in the movie come from a variety of sources, unlike the consistent John/Rice team in the first one. All participants try desperately to duplicate the sound of the first film's tunes; all participants fail to make music that sounds like anything other than pathetic attempts to capture magic.

Lion King II: Simba's Pride is exactly the kind of film Disney's critics have long accused them of making. It's flat, uninspired and by-the-numbers. While it's perfectly competent and professional, it almost completely lacks any spark and fails to entertain even a big Lion King fan like myself.


The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus C

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride appears in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although I didn't expect much from it, since it would seem to be a lower-budget effort, I was very pleasantly surprised by the terrific quality of the picture.

Pride offered a fine example of how great animation can look on DVD. Sharpness appeared consistently fine and crisp. Virtually no instances of softness crept into this tight and concise presentation. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, as was edge enhancement. Print quality appeared terrific, with no flaws of any kind to be found.

Colors looked absolutely fantastic throughout the film. They seemed consistently bright and bold with no evidence of smearing or other problems. The film used a palette oriented toward natural earthy tones, and the DVD reproduced them nicely. Black levels appeared nearly ideal, with good depth and darkness, while shadow detail looked appropriate and nicely translucent. I found Lion King II to provide a very satisfying visual experience.

Whereas the original DVD of Lion King II only included a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the new special edition added a DTS 5.1 mix. That and three dollars will get you a cup of coffee. The DTS and Dolby tracks sounded identical to me.

The audio generated a strong soundfield, with a forward emphasis but also with a nice surround effect. Sound from the front channels was well-defined and nicely placed but avoided seeming too localized, and audio panned cleanly across the speakers. A nice complement of effects and music came from the rears, and this audio helped round out the image to provide a very effective mix.

Audio quality seemed very good. Dialogue always came across as smooth and concise, with no edginess or issues connected to intelligibility. Effects sounded bold and dynamic, with nice support from the lower end. Music also was full-bodied and rich and they present no distortion.

When I went to compare this version of Lion King II with the original 1999 release, I couldn’t do so directly because I no longer own the old DVD and I couldn’t find a copy for rent. Based on my prior review, I’d say that the pair present similar picture and audio. I had no complaints about the visuals of the old one and gave it an excellent rating. I surmise that I’d prefer the new one due to its anamorphic enhancement, but I doubt that the old one would look significantly inferior. Both discs should offer virtually identical audio quality.

While the original Lion King II DVD included almost no supplements, this new two-DVD special edition tosses in more materials. On DVD One, we start with Lion King’s Matter-of-Facts, a subtitle trivia track. This presents information about the different animals we see in the flick. It’s meant for kids, so it’s pretty basic, but it offers a cute little feature.

Disc One also provides Disney’s Song Selection. This basically acts as an alternate form of chapter menu. It lets you jump to any of the film’s six song performances, and it also allows you to show on-screen lyrics.

As DVD One starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Aladdin, and Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. These also appear in the disc’s Sneak Peeks domain along with promos for Mulan, Home on the Range, the Disney Princess line of products, and the stage version of The Lion King.

DVD One features the THX Optimizer. Also found on many other DVDs, this purports to help you set up your system for the best reproduction of both picture and sound, ala stand-alone programs such as Video Essentials. I’ve never tried the Optimizer since I’m happy with my settings, but if you don’t own something such as Essentials, the Optimizer may help you improve picture and audio quality.

Now we go to DVD Two where the extras divide into a variety of areas. Under “Music & More”, all we get is a music video for “Love Will Find a Way” by Kenny Lattimore and Heather Headley. (Why call it “Music & More” with only one component?) It’s little more than the usual lip-synch/movie snippet blandness, though it emphasizes the singers’ emoting more than the shots from the flick.

Within “Games & Activities” we locate three subdomains. Timon and Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari 2.0 offers a sequel to a similar feature on the Lion King and Lion King 1.5 DVDs. This lets you ride through the jungle along with our favorite warthog and meerkat combo. Like the movie itself, “Safari 2.0” wasn’t as interesting as the first two iterations; it lacked the spark and flair of those pieces. Oddly, though the first two used both the original voice actors for Timon and Pumbaa, only Ernie Sabella reappears here; we get a stand-in for Nathan Lane, and not a very good one at that.

In Pride Land Games, we go through some more activities with Timon and Pumbaa. These require you to identify geometric shapes, add simple digits, and match shapes and numbers. These are very simplistic and meant only for little ones. They come with no reward for completion.

Finally, “Games & Activities” ends with Rafiki’s Challenge. This just offers a jungle take on the Shell Game that requires you to follow an object hidden and moved. It’s not much fun.

Next we head to “Backstage Disney” and three different domains. Find Out Why presents five short featurettes to explain the facts behind certain concepts. Each one goes for 90 seconds as they cover topics like how airplanes fly and why pandas don’t live in the desert. Timon and Pumbaa explain things. These are fun and informative pieces for kids. (Note that Nathan Lane appears here instead of the Timon imposter.)

More facts show up in Lots About Lions. This two-minute and 52-second piece brings back Timon (the fake one) and Pumbaa to offer basic facts about lions. It’s not as much fun as “Find Out Why”, but it provides decent basics for kids.

“Backstage” ends with a featurette called Proud of Simba’s Pride. It runs six minutes and 49 seconds as we get notes from director Darrell Rooney, executive in charge of production Sharon Morrill, producer Jeannine Roussel, and actors Sabella, Lane, Neve Campbell, Matthew Broderick, Suzanne Pleshette, and Jason Marsden. It goes through basic production notes like the story, challenges of following the original, themes, and the visual look. It’s a very basic piece without depth, so while it seems mildly entertaining, it doesn’t tell us much.

The extras end with an original short called One By One. This five-minute and 40-second cartoon gets the deluxe treatment with anamorphic 1.66:1 visuals and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The short itself - about African children who make homemade kites - is visually attractive but not very interesting.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride offers a rather blah semi-remake of the original and should provide little interest in the long run. Of the three Lion King films to date, it’s the least compelling, as I much preferred the original flick as well as the wacky Lion King 1 1/2. As for the DVD, picture and sound seemed excellent, but the new two-disc special edition failed to present many good extras.

For new viewers, I can’t recommend Lion King II. It’s a mediocre movie at best. If you already own the old disc and wonder if you should upgrade, I’d say no. The original looked and sounded quite good, and this one doesn’t add supplements that make it worth a repurchase. Lion King fans can do better than this dull sequel.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2708 Stars Number of Votes: 48
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