BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Lion King 2 and 1 1/2
A pair of hi-def home videos expands on the tale of Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa...
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There's no doubt Disney's 1994 release The Lion King was an instant classic and remains one of the most praised, enjoyable, and engaging animated films to be released. The story is timeless, the characters enthralling, the setting unique, and the conflict all too real. So it's to no one's surprise Disney released a direct-to-video sequel in 1998, The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, as well as a unique retelling of the original story told from the perspective of two of fandom's favorite characters - Timon and Pumbaa - in 2004's direct-to-video The Lion King 1 1/2. Each of these unique tales attempts to expand on the already luscious original, while at the same remaining new and unique. While neither of these films is new, Disney recently released both on blu-ray hi-def and DVD in "Special Edition" formats which are sure to attract the attention of a new generation of children as well as rekindle a love for the original in older fans.
1998's Lion King 2: Simba's Pride picks up where the original leaves off; Simba has taken over Pride Lands and must now contend with his own daughter, Kiara, and her misadventures. Kiara is just as strong-willed and independent as her father was, which of course leads her into plenty of fun and trouble. The circle of life continues to work as Kiara runs into Kovu, a young cub from a rival pride who's being groomed for leadership. Simba is still at odds with the "Outlanders," so Kiara and Kovu's adventures - and budding romance - poses quite an problem to the land's leader...and Kiara's father. Of course, adventure, excitement, betrayals, and redemption follow, with - of course - good overcoming evil in the end.
While parallelling the original in almost every way but in every way not as good, The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride will still keep fan's attention as it's engaging, exciting, and filled with fun and adventure. The original voice cast returns (which is a major bonus) and the new characters are fun and add plenty to the story.
The 2-disc blu-ray/DVD release features a number of special features and bonus material, including "Timon & Pumbaa's Insectapedia," which explores the pair's favorite snacks; "Timon & Pumbaa: Find Out Why," with the pair chatting up random facts; the fun "One by One Animated Short," which tells a unique tale of children flying kites; the music video for "Love Will Find a Way," and finally a short "Proud of Simba's Pride," which is essentially a "making of" featurette.
Overall, The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, falls short of its predecessor...but rightfully so; it's nearly impossible to live up to the awesomeness of the original The Lion King. That said, for those who're fans of Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and the original film, you'll no doubt enjoy the fun, adventure, and excitment that is The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride.
The second film in the trilogy released recently to blu-ray hi-def is The Lion King 1 1/2, a film that for all intents purposely shadows the original tale and explores the original film's story from the perspective of Timon and Pumbaa, two fan-favorite characters who cause plenty of laughs throughout. This film compliments the original well and, unlike the previously mentioned Simba's Pride, explores the original's content in a whole new way that a "next generation" film never could. For those who really love Timon and Pumbaa - and let's be honest, who doesn't? - The Lion King 1 1/2 is a great film that's a great way to re-watch The Lion King without having to actually rewatch The Lion King.
The 2-disc blu-ray/DVD set includes a number of special features and bonus material, including "Timon and Pumbaa's Vacation Safari," which follows the pair on an adventurous trip; "Timon: Behind the Legend," which features Peter Graves narrating Timon's life story; a making of featurette entitled "Before the Beginning: The Making of The Lion King 1 1/2;" the music video for "Grazing In the Grass;" and a number of deleted scenes.
For fans of the original, it doesn't get much better than The Lion King 1 1/2. With an engaging story that compliments the original as well as gives fans plenty of background info on two fan-favorite characters, The Lion King 1 1/2 is a great addition to any hi-def home video collection.
Both The Lion King 2 and The Lion King 1 1/2 are available now on blu-ray/DVD 2-disc special edition sets wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley