Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday animation: The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride


The animated film randomly selected for review today is the sequel to the immensely popular Disney film, The Lion King.  This film came out right at the beginning of Disney's sequel phase when they were churning out sequel after sequel after sequel.  I actually don't hate the Disney sequels at all.  I don't have anything against them.  But...I do recognize that they were made for the wrong reason: to make money rather than to make art.

Admittedly, it's been a very long time since I've seen this movie.  I only saw it once, and since I'm not a fan of The Lion King (shocking for a Disney fan, I know), I never cared to see it again.  So, I'm having to rewatch some of it in order to write a decent review.

Let's get on with it, then.

It pretty much begins exactly where the first movie left off.
Overview: The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride (Previously known as The Lion King II: Simba's Pride) is a direct-to-video sequel to The Lion King released by Disney in 1998.  The film was met with mixed reviews.

Art: It's...not terrible, but it's definitely not great.  It's just...decent.  Vibrant and colorful, but it lacks that artistic element that makes a movie look cinematic.  It ends up look more like a very well-done cartoon, but since this is meant to be a feature-length movie, I have to be more critical than that.  There are very few scenes that I could call pretty in the film, and even those scenes are not very impressive or attractive.  It is certainly fluid, and I can tell that a lot of effort was put into it on the part of the artists, but they obviously had to work within their means.  The design is very similar to the first movie.  The recurring characters look on-model for the most part, and the new characters fit the mold.  I did not like the use of CGI in some scenes.  It stuck out way too much, even more so than earlier Disney films.  It just didn't look good.  The coloring also seems kind of flat.  It doesn't add a lot of dimension.  Yes, there are lots of colors, but there seems to be a lack of shading.  It gives the film a very dull, boring look.

This CG fire looks terrible!  I guess they were trying to make it look realistic, but perhaps they forgot that this is meant to be a hand-drawn animated film that doesn't need to look realistic?
Sound: High-quality sound, crisp and clear.  I also liked the music, especially "He Lives in You."  Most of the voice actors from the original reprise their roles in this film, and they all do a decent job in both acting and singing.  I don't think they were nearly as good as they were in the first one besides Matthew Broderick as Simba who is always good.  I just really love his voice, so smooth and youthful and kind but also authoritative.

Story: It's a Romeo and Juliet-type story with the daughter of Simba and Nala, Kiara, falling in love with Scar's heir, Kovu (he's not his son, though), and vice versa.  There's an uprising plot that Kiara and Kovu are able to stop, and then the two groups, Scar's followers and Simba's followers, decide to live together in peace.  It's not nearly as powerful as the original movie.  It's actually kind of clichéd and predictable.  The recurring characters are mostly the same as before, but I can't say that the new characters, specifically Kiara, Kovu, and Zira, were memorable.  The most memorable was probably Zira who had a real vicious bite to her, but Kiara and Kovu were pretty flat.  At times, the film really tries to have a character-driven plot, but the characters are interesting enough to really drive it anywhere.  Not anywhere we really care about, anyway.

Personal appeal: Well, I don't love the first movie, so I definitely didn't really care for this sequel.  I found it to be pretty boring, and the art is very lacking.  The best part, I think, is the music, and even that isn't that great.  I wouldn't be against watching this again if someone insisted on watching it with me, but I definitely wouldn't choose to watch it again.

Overall, I give this film one and a half peridots.  It's just barely decent.