The original Lion King is by far one of the best animated classics to come out of the house of Walt for the last decade. It's grand depiction of the African jungle and the circle of life that ensues gave us the story of Simba, the lion exciled from the Pride Lands after being blamed for his fathers death only to return and defeat the evil Scar and reclaim the throne as the Lion King.
It was no surprise that Disney created a 'long awaited' sequel given the success of the original. In Simba's Pride, all our favorite characters return including Simba (Matthew Broderick), Nala (Moira Kelly), Timon (Nathan Lane), Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), Rafiki (Robert Guillaume, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and introducing Kiara (Neve Campbell) and Kovu (Jason Marsden).
Kiara, daughter of Simba, has a playful exuberance that seems to defy her fathers wishes for her to be disciplined the in the ways of the Pride Lands. One day, she leaves the Pride Lands and finds herself in the Outlands where she meets Kovu, son of Zira (Suzanne Pleshette) and the late Scar.
Kiara and Kovu grow up together and fall in love, going against the wishes of their respective parents and when Zira drives her son into fighting for the throne do we see how love overcomes all obstacles and brings their two lands together.
Excellent. If this is how good a 4x3 made for video title looks then I dread to think what we could expect from an anamorphic transfer of the original will look like.
What strikes you first is the color. I have yet to see vibrant animation on dvd and this literally blew me away. Check out some of the screenshots for a sample. Color saturation is high and it makes the picture all the more enjoyable.
The detail and sharpness offered in dvd is proven here as you can make out sketch lines within each frame of certain scenes. I thought I was seeing artifacts but was infact seeing excellent resolution and detail. There is no edge enhancement of any kind which makes the image look much more natural. Black level is perfect, there is no noise in the image and fast moving scenes seem artificial given the nature of a high bit-rate encoding - which is a benefit.
I'm afraid the soundtrack has to take a backseat to the video. While not as grand in score and sound effects as the first movie, this still holds up well. Stampedes are on a much smaller scale in both numbers and dynamic range which means your subwoofer will have an easier experience second time around.
Dialogue is always clear and surrounds are used throughout which does give you an open soundstage but I think that being a direct to video creation, the sound wasn't a high priority as vhs can only offer dolby surround as a maximum.
Not the greatest of sequels but good enough to keep the kids happy. I did enjoy it but the first one was, as I already stated, on a much grander scale and this one has that tired feel to it.
You will appreciate what animation can look like on dvd and will start to crave for Disney's biggest hits to appear real soon.