The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
|The Lion King II: Simba's Pride|
North American VHS cover
|Directed by||Darrell Rooney|
|Produced by||Jeannine Roussel|
|Screenplay by||Flip Kobler
|Music by||Nick Glennie-Smith|
|Edited by||Peter Lonsdale|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Home Video|
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Australia and released on October 27, 1998, the film centers around Simba and Nala's daughter Kiara, who falls in love with Kovu, a male rogue lion from a banished pride that was once loyal to Simba's evil uncle, Scar. Separated by Simba's prejudice against the banished pride and a vindictive plot planned by Kovu's resentful mother, Kiara and Kovu struggle to unite their estranged prides and be together.
Most of the original cast returned to their roles from the first film, apart from Rowan Atkinson, who was replaced by Edward Hibbert as the voice of Zazu for this film and its prequel, The Lion King 1½. Madge Sinclair, the voice of Simba's mother Sarabi, died after the first film's release, and her character is consequently written out of this sequel.
The animals of the Pridelands gather to witness the celebration of the newborn cub, Kiara, daughter of King Simba and Queen Nala. Simba's father, Mufasa, proudly watches over the ceremony from the Heavens above. As she grows older, Kiara becomes annoyed with her father's overprotective parenting. Simba assigns Timon and Pumbaa to watch her. Kiara ignores her father's warning and the duo's attention and enters the "Outlands," where she meets Kovu, a cub who was chosen by Simba's uncle Scar to be his heir. When Kovu retaliates to Kiara's playing, Simba confronts the young cub just as Zira, Kovu's mother, confronts him. Zira reminds Simba of how he exiled her and the other Outsiders, and she informs him that Kovu was hand-chosen to be Scar's successor. After returning to the Pride Lands, Simba sends Nala and the rest of the pride back to Pride Rock while he scolds Kiara about the danger posed by the Outsiders. Simba then tells her that they are a part of each other. Meanwhile in the Outlands, Zira reminds Kovu that Simba killed Scar and was the one who exiled the lions who respect him. Kovu explains that he does not think it is so bad to have Kiara as his good friend, but Zira realizes she can use Kovu's friendship with Kiara to seek revenge on Simba.
Many years later, Kiara, now a young adult, heads out for her first solo hunt. Despite promising Kiara that she could hunt alone, Simba gets Timon and Pumba to keep an eye on her. In the middle of her hunting expedition, Kiara encounters Pumba and Timon, causing her to run off and hunt away from the Pride Lands. As part of Zira's plan, Kovu's siblings Nuka and Vitani trap Kiara in a fire, allowing Kovu to rescue her. Unable to thank the young rogue, Simba is forced to accept Kovu's asylum now that Kovu saved his daughter. Later that night, Simba has a nightmare about attempting to save Mufasa from falling into the stampede but is stopped by Scar who then morphs into Kovu and throws Simba off the cliff into the stampede to his death. The next day, Kovu contemplates attacking Simba as he was instructed to, but he goes out to teach Kiara how to hunt instead and eventually realizes his feelings for her. Kovu attempts to confess his mission to Kiara, but Rafiki interrupts and leads them to the jungle, where he introduces them to "upendi" (which means love in Swahili), and the two lions ultimately fall in love. That night, Simba allows Kovu to sleep inside Pride Rock with the rest of the pride, unaware that they are being watched by Vitani who reports to Zira about Kovu's failure to kill Simba.
The next day, Kovu's guilt drives him to confess his mission to Kiara. Before he can do so, Simba takes him around the Pride Lands and tells him the real story of Scar, which Kovu had never heard. They fall into an ambush set up by Zira, who orders an attack on Simba, the pride of outlander attack Simba. Kovu attempts to help protect Simba, but is pushed off by one of the lionesses and hits his head off a rock, knocking him out. Nuka tries to capture and kill Simba, but Simba escapes and Nuka is lethally crushed by logs in a nearby dam. Blaming Kovu for his brother's death, Zira scratches him across his eye, leaving a scar and causing Kovu to turn on her. Kovu attempts to return to the Pride Lands and pleads Simba for his forgiveness, but is promptly exiled. Kiara makes Simba realize that he will never be like Mufasa, before fleeing to find Kovu. The two lions later find each other and confess their love. Kovu wishes to run away and start a pride with Kiara, but she convinces him to come back with her to The Pride Lands to reunite their prides.
The Outsiders and Pridelanders clash. Zira and Simba battle each other, but Kovu and Kiara intervene and tell them to stop their hostilities. Vitani and the Outsiders side with the Pridelanders. Zira attempts to kill Simba, but Kiara pushes her over a cliff, dangling over a storm-swollen river. Kiara offers Zira her help, but Zira refuses and falls into the river. Simba helps Kiara back up the cliff, and they, along with Nala, allow the Outsiders and Kovu to rejoin the Pridelands at Pride Rock. Simba accepts Kovu as his son-in-law and the future king and Kiara the future queen. Simba looks up at the sky to hear the approval of his father, who says he is proud of him.
- Matthew Broderick as Simba, the King of the Pride Lands, son of Mufasa, mate of Nala and father of Kiara. Cam Clarke provides his singing voice. Ian Harrowell served as the supervising animator for Simba.
- Moira Kelly as Nala, the Queen of the Pride Lands, mate of Simba and mother of Kiara. Ian Harrowell served as the supervising animator for Nala.
- Neve Campbell as Kiara, Simba and Nala's daughter. As a cub, she is voiced by Michelle Horn, with Charity Sanoy providing her child singing voice as a cub, Ashley Edner providing her lion growls as a cub and Liz Callaway providing her adult singing voice. Lianne Hughes served as the supervising animator for Kiara.
- Suzanne Pleshette as Zira, the leader of the Outsiders and Scar's most loyal follower and the mother of Nuka, Vitani and Kovu. Kevin Peaty served as the supervising animator for Zira.
- Jason Marsden as Kovu, Zira's son and Nuka and Vitani's younger brother. Gene Miller provides Kovu's singing voice. As a cub, he is voiced by Ryan O'Donohue. Andrew Collins served as the supervising animator for Kovu.
- Andy Dick as Nuka, Zira's son, Vitani and Kovu's older brother and the oldest male of Zira's family. Ian Harrowell served as the supervising animator for Nuka.
- Nathan Lane as Timon, Simba's meerkat best friend, royal adviser and Kiara's guardian. Bob Baxter served as the supervising animator for Timon.
- Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa, Simba's warthog best friend, royal adviser and Kiara's guardian. Bob Baxter served as the supervising animator for Pumbaa.
- Robert Guillaume as Rafiki, the mandrill shaman of The Pride Lands. Bob Baxter served as the supervising animator for Rafiki.
- Jennifer Lien as Vitani, Zira's daughter and Nuka and Kovu's sister. As a cub, she is voiced by Lacey Chabert, with Crysta Macalush providing her singing voice. Kevin Peaty served as the supervising animator for Vitani.
- Edward Hibbert as Zazu (replacing Rowan Atkinson), Simba's hornbill adviser and childhood guardian. Bob Baxter served as the supervising animator for Zazu.
- James Earl Jones as Mufasa, the spirit of Simba's late father, the older brother of Scar, Kiara's grandfather, and the previous King of the Pride Lands.
- Jim Cummings as Scar (replacing Jeremy Irons), Mufasa's younger brother, Simba's evil uncle and Kiara's great uncle. Though Scar does not actually appear in the main body of the movie itself (due to him being eaten alive by the hyenas in the first film), he appears briefly in Simba's nightmare and also makes a brief cameo appearance when Kovu (right after being exiled by Simba) looks in a pool of water and watches his reflection change into Scar's.
Discussion began about the possibility of a sequel to The Lion King before the first film even hit theaters. In January 1995, it was reported that a Lion King sequel was to be released "in the next twelve months". However, it was delayed, and then it was reported in May 1996 that it would be released in "early next year" of 1997. By 1996, producer Jeannine Roussel and director Darrell Rooney signed on board to produce and direct the sequel. In December 1996, Matthew Broderick was confirmed to be returning as Simba while his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Jennifer Aniston were in talks to voice Aisha, Simba's daughter. Andy Dick was also confirmed to have signed on to voice Nunka, the son of Scar, who attempts to romance Aisha. Ultimately, the character was renamed Kiara, and voiced by Neve Campbell. Nunka was renamed Kovu, and voiced by Jason Marsden. Then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner urged for Kovu's relationship to Scar to be changed during production as being Scar's son would make him Kiara's second cousin. According to Rooney, the final draft gradually became a variation of Romeo and Juliet. "It's the biggest love story we have," he explained. "The difference is that you understand the position of the parents in this film in a way you never did in the Shakespeare play." Because none of the original animators were involved in the production, the majority of the animation was done by Walt Disney Television Animation's studio in Sydney, Australia. However, all storyboarding and pre-production work was done at the Feature Animation studio in Burbank, California. By March 1998, Disney confirmed the sequel would be released on October 27, 1998.
Coincided with its direct-to-video release, Simba's Pride was accompanied with a promotional campaign which included tie-ins with McDonald's, Mattel, and Lever 2000. Unlike the North American release, Simba's Pride was theatrically released in European and Latin American countries in spring 1999.
The film was first released on VHS in the United States on October 27, 1998 and on DVD as a limited issue on November 23, 1999. The DVD release featured the film in a letterboxed 1.66:1 aspect ratio, the trailer for the movie, and a music video of "Love Will Find A Way" performed by Heather Headley and Kenny Lattimore. In 1998, Disney believed that The Lion King II: Simba's Pride would be so popular that it shipped 13 million copies to stores for the October 27 release date. In March 2001, it was reported that in its first three day, 3.5 million VHS copies were sold, and ultimately about thirteen million copies were sold. In September 2001, it was reported that Simba's Pride had sold more than 15 million copies. Overall, consumer spending on The Lion King II: Simba's Pride accumulated about $300 million — roughly the same figure of its predecessor's theatrical release at that time, and continues to be one of the top-selling direct-to-video release of all time, with $464.5 million worldwide in sales and rentals.
On August 31, 2004, the film was re-released on VHS and a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. The DVD edition featured optional pop-up informational commentary, interactive games (the "Virtual Safari") featuring Timon and Pumbaa and Rafiki, five humorous "Find Out Why" shorts, an animated short based on Lebo M's "One By One", and a "Proud of Simba's Pride" featurette. The Special Edition version featured changes made to the film such as Kovu in the water being inexplicably re-animated as well as other alterations. A DVD boxed set of the three The Lion King films (in two-disc Special Edition formats) was released on December 6, 2004. In January 2005, the film, along with the sequels, went back into moratorium.
On October 4, 2011, Simba's Pride was included in an eight-disc box set trilogy set with the other two films. The Blu-ray edition for the film was released as a separate version on March 6, 2012. The Blu-ray edition has three different versions, a 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, a 1-disc edition, and a digital download. The Blu-ray edition has also been attached with a new Timon & Pumbaa short, in which the two friends gaze at the night sky as the star constellations resemble their favorite meal, insects. The Blu-ray edition of The Lion King II, along with the other two films in the series, was placed into moratorium on April 30, 2013.
Siskel & Ebert gave the film a "two-thumbs up" and said it was a "satisfactory sequel to one of the most popular films of all time, The Lion King". However, they also said it was best that it went to video, citing that the music was lacking and not remotely equal to the original's soundtrack. TV Guide gave the film 2½ stars out of four, claiming that, despite being of slightly higher quality than Disney's previous direct-to-video animated sequels, "comes nowhere near the level of its big-screen predecessor", either musically or artistically. The review later went on to say that "Though most of the original characters and their voices are back, they all sound bored, apart from the zesty addition of Suzanne Pleshette as the scheming Zira. The overall result is OK for kids, who will enjoy the low humor provided by the comical meerkat Timon and the flatulent warthog Pumbaa, but it could have been so much better." Writing for Variety, Joe Leydon commented in his review "In marked contrast to most of the studio's small screen sequels to bigscreen animated hits, the new pic isn't merely kids' stuff. Not unlike its predecessor, Lion King II has enough across-the-board appeal to entertain viewers of all ages." Caryn James of The New York Times concluded her review with "It's the rare sequel that matches the creative flair of an original, of course. The Lion King II may be derivative, but it is also winning on its own." Entertainment Weekly critic Stephen Witty, who graded the sequel a C+, wrote, "Despite its drawbacks, The Lion King II could make a decent rental for undemanding under-7 fans of the original, who won't be overburdened by the psychodrama. For true believers who've already watched and rewound their copies to shreds, it might even make a good buy. And for them, hey, hakuna matata. But for the rest of us, caveat emptor might be a better motto." James Plath of Movie Metropolis gave the film 6/10, saying that, "Simply put, we've seen it all before." Felix Vasquez Jr. of Cinema Crazed derided, "the sequel is as predictable a sequel as can be. It takes from The Fox and the Hound with shades of Romeo and Juliet and side steps the interesting Simba in favor of his bland daughter Kiara, and Timon and Pumba [sic]."
- "He Lives in You" – Sung by Lebo M and his African choir. This song represents Kiara's birth and is the equivalent of "Circle of Life". The song is a direct reference to when Rafiki told Simba in the first film that Mufasa "lives" in him. Also appears in the Broadway version of the first film. The end title is performed by Tina Turner.
- "We Are One" – Sung by Cam Clarke and Charity Sanoy. Following Kiara's encounter with Kovu and Zira in which she endangers herself, Simba explains how important she is to the pride and that the pride is one. It can be seen as the musical equivalent to the first film's talk about the Great Kings of the Past with Mufasa and Simba.
- "My Lullaby" – Sung by Suzanne Pleshette, Andy Dick, and Crysta Macalush. Zira's lullaby to Kovu, which outlines her plot for him to kill Simba and how proud it would make her. The equivalent to "Be Prepared" as both songs detail the murder plots of the two villains. There are several allusions to the first film, including the similarities in the ending sequences of both songs and Zira's treatment of Nuka during the song, which resembles Scar's abuse of Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.
- "Upendi" (Swahili for "love") – Sung by Robert Guillaume, Liz Callaway, Gene Miller, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Rafiki's song to Kiara and Kovu about love, friendship, and happiness. Sung by Rafiki and his animal friends. Also the equivalent to "Hakuna Matata", from the first film, as well as "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" visually.
- "One of Us" – Sung following Kovu being exiled by Simba after he wrongfully accuses Kovu of betraying him. This was the first time the animals other than lions outside of the main characters (excluding Lion King 1½) have been seen talking. This is the only song to not have an equivalent to the first film, but may lyrically reflect on Mufasa's or Scar's death.
- "Love Will Find a Way" – Sung by Liz Callaway and Gene Miller. A romantic love song that includes of Kiara and Kovu's first encounter following Kovu's banishment. The pair concludes that their mutual feelings for each other are too strong and true for their differences to keep them apart. Similar to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight". The end title version is performed by R&B artists Kenny Lattimore and Heather Headley.
An audio CD entitled Return to Pride Rock: Songs Inspired by Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was released on September 8, 1998. Although not promoted as a soundtrack to the film, it contained all the songs from the film and some additional songs inspired by it by Lebo M.
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The studio is so confident in the sequel's success, it already is considering a direct-to-video sequel to The Lion King – which doesn't arrive in theaters until June.
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- Official website
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride at AllMovie
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride at the Internet Movie Database
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride at Rotten Tomatoes