It's worth remembering that The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride was originally released during an era when Disney was spitting out direct-to-video sequels to practically everything in their library. Few of their cherished classics were spared the rubberstamp treatment, with most destined for the bargain bins of history (or worse, the 'Disney Vault'). If we're being honest, they weren't all bad, and the continuation of The Lion King (then the highest-grossing animated film of all-time) is perhaps the crowning achievement of the bunch. While not nearly as grand or epic as its theatrical predecessor, this sequel that respects the original and is an enjoyable romp through the pride lands that will have families entertained with songs, drama and action, and just maybe have them roaring with laughter.
Taking place not long after the events in the original film, we find parents Simba and Nala busy raising Kiara, their female cub who's just as feisty and adventurous as her father. After disobeying her parents and straying away from Pride Rock to go exploring, she meets another lion cub named Kovu, who is the son of Zira, Scar’s former queen and leader of a pride outside of the Pride Lands. Of course, this brings all sorts of drama when Zira plans to use the cubs’ friendship to get revenge on Simba, and when Simba finds out about Kovu and quickly separates him from his daughter, much to her dismay.
Throw in all of your favorite characters from the first movie such as Timon and Pumbaa, nice voice acting by the likes of Matthew Broderick returning as Simba, Moira Kelly as Nala, and Neve Campbell stepping in for Kiara when she’s older, and you've got yourself a sequel that doesn't just live up to the lofty standards of the original, but is actually an enjoyable adventure on its own.
And for a 1998 release, the video transfer to Blu-ray is exceptionally well done here. All of the colors and detail, as well as the near-theatrical quality animation, show up quite nicely. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio also roars in perfectly, making sure that every song number and piece of dialogue is heard with clarity.
Clawing its way onto the Blu-ray disc are a few special features that folks are bound to enjoy after the movie ends. “Timon and Pumbaa’s Insectapedia” is a fun and educational feature that has our two favorite animated buddies showing off real footage of tasty insects while sharing detailed information on some of the varities of bugs out in the wild. The “Love Will Find a Way” music video is a nice ending song to the film performed by Kenny Lattimore and Heather Headley, and “One by One” is a welcome five-minute animated short that stars a group of young friends in an African village trying to fly kites.
Lastly, there’s more educational fun in “Timon and Pumbaa Find Out Why”, which is a nice collection of shorts in which the guys talk about various scientific things that people may wonder about, such as what causes thunder and lightning, etc.
While nowhere as spectacular as the original blockbuster film, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride is the best of the Disney sequels nobody was asking for and a pretty good follow-up on its own. The transfer of the 1998 direct-to-video film looks great in high-definition, with a den of bonus features help keep the fun going long after the credits roll by. Longtime fans and newcomers alike are bound to enjoy the songs, comedy, drama and action presented here as the adventures of some of Disney's most beloved characters are treated with respect. Those looking for a roaring good time on family night are sure to find it here, as this is one Blu-ray you’ll want to add to your pride.
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Walt Disney Video