Lion King II
(By Gerry Wang)

Gerry Wang

_____For my birthday, since I really really really wanted it, my mom gave me Disney's LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE, which was released only on video tape. I was pumped up like hell. I mean, here was the sequel to one of my most favorite cartoons, as well as the highest-grossing animated picture in history. It had large footsteps to follow, and I watched it w/ unfairly high expectations. Another reason why I was biased in my viewing was....

_____Whereas I woulda paid my usual $5.00 AMC student discount ticket price to watch LION KING II had it been released in theaters, this was a videocassette that cost $14.99! Why are videos so damn expensive in the first place? The blanks cost like 15 bucks for a 10 pack. Damn capitalist bastards. How dare they charge you a nut and a half to buy a simple videotape?? If they put out good product, then perhaps this arrangement would be feasible.

_____So was LION KING II worth the $14.99? Yes. I watched it twice, and the second time around I can honestly say I enjoyed it more. Plus this is good to watch with girls because they love Disney's cute little creatures. But the best part is that you can shut little kids up by popping this baby in. Multiple times too. So in the end, LION KING II is ultimately worth the $14.99. Just don't buy it at $19.99 or anything. I am cheap. I know.

_____Was it better than the original? Nope. The original LION KING was a sprawling coming-of-age story with Hamletian simimlarities. Its music was more memorable, the plot line more tragic, the end more triumphant, and the animation more majestic. LION KING II is part ROMEO & JULIET, part FATHER OF THE BRIDE, and part THE OUTSIDERS. By itself, LION KING II is a very solid family feature. But compared to its predecessor, it is a satisfactory sequel.

_____For those of you w/ stones for hearts, who didn't watch the first LION KING, the plot line in this sequel might not make sense, as there is no effort to go back and re-establish the foundation of the previous conflict found in the first installment. So I will provide a general summary of LION KING I and a more in depth look at LION KING II.

_____The basic conflict which the first LION KING was primarily about was the rivalry between the Royal Family, consisting of Simba the prince and his father, the Lion King Mufasa versus the evil uncle Scar, who was jealous of Simba's priority to the ascension of the throne. W/o Simba there, Scar would have become king of Pride Rock. So he is pissed. He arranges for Mufasa to be killed, and makes Simba feel responsible, thus damaging the cub's psyche. Simba runs away, and Scar usurps the throne w/ his followers. Eventually, Simba comes back to avenge his father and kills Scar.

_____If you don't have a soul, then you wouldn't have felt sad at Mufasa's passing. It is one of the most traumatic animated moments since Bambi's mother got capped. Such a heart-wrenching event is absent in the sequel.

_____LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE picks up where the first one left off. Simba has assumed the throne, and banished Scar's minions to the Outlands. And participating in his role in the Circle of Life, Simba has a daughter named Kiara, who will eventually become Queen of Pride Rock. (Nevermind that that makes absolutely no sense. A female can never be at the head of a pride. It is a scientific fact. Obviously Disney had to tinker w/ reality again.)

_____Anyways, Kiara is a spunky lil tyke, frequently disobeying her pops and wandering off on her own. Reminiscent of Simba himself as a youth. One day, Kiara wanders into the forbidden Outlands, and meets a young male cub named Kovu. There is instant chemistry, but little does Kiara know, Kovu is the Chosen One, hand-picked by Scar to succeed him. He is Simba's worst enemy. Kovu is the lion that Scar's minions follow.

_____Simba discovers Kiara and Kovu together, along with Kovu's mom Xera, who is Scar's most devout follower. There is tension and hatred. Xera sees the killer of her lord. Simba sees a henchling of Scar, whose seed's destiny is to challenge his throne. But all the cubs see is just another playmate whom they are developing feelings towards. Kinda like ROMEO & JULIET and THE OUTSIDERS, you see?

_____Xera whisks her son away, to hone him into a killing machine, and Simba forbids Kiara to ever see Kovu. Xera fills Kovu w/ hatred for Simba, brainwashing him as he grows into adulthood. Kiara herself grows up into a lionness, ready to leave the pride and hunt on her own for the first time. Xera seizes this opportunity and sets up a fake rescuing of Kiara by Kovu, in order to gain access to Simba. It works.

_____The rest of the movie is about Kovu's struggle to do what he thinks is right. On one hand, he wants to please his mother by killing Simba, but on the other hand he is in love w/ Kiara, and doesn't want to devastate her by murdering her father. In fact, he doesn't want any part of this feud in the first place.

_____All the characters from the first movie are present, with the lovable Timon & Pumbaa bringing comic relief as usual. Timon, the frenetic meekrat is as neurotic as ever, and Pumbaa the odorous warthog is as flatulent as ever. However, they have a lesser amount of screen time in the sequel compared to the first LION KING. I woulda liked to see more about these two. They are a queer duo.

_____LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE has more of an Aesop's fable feel to it, because the moral message is more obvious. But the morality has many layers. The most important lesson we learn is one that pertains to real life. We see it in the conflict in Bosnia. We see it in the African genocides. Hell, we see it in the gang wars here at home. The lesson we must learn is that we are all one. We are all human beings. Why kill your own kind? It's stupid.

_____However, another theme is that we must all bury the past. We cannot alter the past, so why linger over it? Revenge is sweet, but ephemeral. It is best to forgive and forget. For adults, the message of letting your kids grow up is quite ubiquitous. Simba's one of those possessive fathers, and is reluctant to let Kiara grow up and fall in love. This is what I meant when I said it was part FATHER OF THE BRIDE.

_____Wow, how the hell did I get all this from a cartoon..........Oh well, let us ignore my immature fixation with cartoons and move on to the music!

_____The best song in LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE is "We Are One," which is just as endearing as "Hakuna Matata" or "Can You Feel The Tonight" or "Circle of Life," all found on the soundtrack to the first LION KING. You will find yourself humming along to it because it is very catchy, and it summarizes the movie's entire moral message. However, the other songs in LION KING II are not as memorable.

_____There is "Upendi", meaning "love" in Swahili or some other gibberish language, which is a rip off of "Kiss The Girl" in LITTLE MERMAID. Another song is "Love Will Find A Way" which is only appealing, but unworthy of being made into the obligatory contemporary-pop single, in this case sung by Kenny Lattimore and some bald African-American chick. They shoulda made "We Are One" into a single. It is a good song.

_____Overall, I found myself enjoying LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE the second time I watched it. The first time, I was kinda disappointed at how it didn't measure to the first LION KING. But the second time, I was able to appreciate the fine storytelling and decent music. And the fire sequence is just as good as anything you will find in the original. Looks real. Looks like the savannah is on fire. You know what is weird? The first time around, I never liked Kovu at all. He looks like a younger, more robust Scar. I hated Scar. I was appalled that Disney would try to pass off Kovu as a good guy. But after watching it again, that little bugger grew on me, and I accepted him as part of Simba's family. Strange huh? I'm such a freak........

_____So, in the end, I didn't unfairly criticize LION KING II: SIMBA'S PRIDE because I was able to watch it more than once. How was I able to watch it more than once? Because I had to video! So now we see the benefits in the straight-to-video system. Go buy this one. Ignore the pornos. (I dare you to censor that line, Rice!!!!)

* Editor's note: You know I'll do it, Gerry!!! Haha... =)


NOTE: This review marks the brand new institution of the Babe-o-meter, which replaces the old Chick-o-meter. The latter rated the movie on its accessibility to the female gender. We all know it is freakin impossible to understand girls these days, so now we have the Babe-o-meter, which measures the girls actually in the movie. Keep in mind this is a brain-child of Rice, so credit must go to him. =) The scale is as follows:

* 4-- Greek Goddesses (Highest)- Some nice, delicious honeys, changed from "Wet Dream Time" at Rice's request; i.e. Jenny McCarthy
* 3-- Lovely- Pretty girls, but not knockouts; i.e. Jennifer Lopez
* 2-- Semi Do-able- Middle of the road type of girls; i.e. Jennie Garth
* 1-- I am limp (Lowest)- Butt ugly banshees; i.e. my sis Jennifer Wang =)

LION KING II's Babe-o-meter: 1- I am limp (It's a G-rated cartoon. Too bad, you Hentai lovers)