|The Lion King II: Simba's Pride|
Walt Disney Home Video
October 27, 1998
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (later re-titled The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride) is an American direct-to-video film produced by Walt Disney Television Animation/Disney Video Premiere and released by Walt Disney Home Video on October 27, 1998 as a sequel to The Lion King. It was later re-released as a special edition DVD (which altered the original title's "II" into "2") on August 31, 2004, and on Blu-ray, for a March 6, 2012 release. The film wasn't rated until the 2-disc Special Edition was released. It was then given a G rating by the MPAA.
While the original film's plot is inspired by William Shakespeare's Hamlet, this sequel's plot is similar to another Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet.
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride centers around Simba and Nala's daughter Kiara, who falls in love with Kovu, a male lion who was raised in a pride of Scar's followers, known as the Outsiders, who are Simba's enemies. Desperate to be together, they must overcome the two obstacles that are keeping them apart: the leader of the Outsiders, Kovu's mother Zira, and Simba's prejudice of the Outsiders.
The film starts where the previous film left off, with the presentation of King Simba and Queen Nala's newborn daughter Kiara, a ceremony which the ghost of Mufasa proudly watches over. Some time passes and the princess runs from her overprotective father and her suffocating babysitters Timon and Pumbaa and sneaks across the borders of King Simba's kingdom to the Outlands, where she encounters an "Outsider" cub named Kovu. The two soon get into trouble when they find themselves in a river surrounded by crocodiles. Luckily, Kovu distracts them long enough for he and Kiara to escape.
Kiara and Kovu become friends and Kiara tries to initiate a game of tag, only to find Kovu has no idea how to play. In a bid to relax him, she playfully growls, but when Kovu reciprocates, King Simba immediately appears out of nowhere. Kovu's mother Zira, who had been quietly watching from the bushes, also emerges. The two face off as Nala along with Timon, Pumbaa and two other lionesses, appears and they say each other's names with deep contempt. After introducing themselves, Timon orders Zira to get out of their Pride Lands. Zira reveals that the Outsiders were exiled by Simba for remaining loyal to Scar, and that Kovu was Scar's heir to the throne – and therefore a threat to Simba. However, Simba is unwilling to hurt a cub and orders the duo to leave, much to Kiara and Kovu's dismay. As they journey home, King Simba scolds his daughter for breaking the rules and endangering herself, reminding her that one day, she will be a queen.
Meanwhile, in the Outlands, Zira's teenage son Nuka complains to his younger sister Vitani about Kovu being the Chosen One, when as the "oldest, smartest, and strongest" (as he describes it), the honor should have be his. At that moment, Zira returns and scolds her two sons. She mocks Kovu's claim that he and Kiara could be friends. She then realizes that, by using Kiara, Kovu could get close enough to Simba to murder him and take the throne. Thus, he can avenge Scar's death. Alone in his tree, Rafiki communicates with Mufasa's spirit and voices his fear of Zira and mistrust of Kovu, brought up with hate in his heart. Mufasa, however, has his own plan: Kiara and Kovu will be together and unite the two prides.
Time passes and Kovu grows into an young adult. He is molded by Zira into the perfect assassin, with only one goal in mind: kill Simba. Kiara has also grown, and, keen to go on her first solo hunt, makes Simba promise he will let her do it alone. However, Simba sends Timon and Pumbaa after her to ensure her safety. Kiara is unable to catch anything, but is furious at her father when she finds he has lied and sent his friends to track her. Nuka and Vitani watch the events before lighting a series of fires (which they got from The Elephant Graveyard) around Kiara, trapping her. Kiara faints from the smoke as Kovu appears, as part of Zira's plan, and carries her back to the Pride Lands. Though angry at first that he has interfered, Kiara soon recognizes her old friend. However, Simba, drawn by the sight of smoke, appears, along with Nala. Kovu lies and claims that he has left the Outsiders to become a rogue and asks to join Simba's pride.
Simba is suspicious of Kovu's story and motives. However, he is forced to acknowledge that he owes Kovu a debt which must be paid according to Mufasa's law. He allows Kovu to stay at Pride Rock, but makes him sleep outside the den, separate from the pride. Despite this, Kiara thanks him for saving her and the two arrange for him to give her a hunting lesson the next morning. That night, Simba dreams his father's death in the stampede. In it, Scar holds Simba back to prevent him from reaching Mufasa, sinisterly telling Simba to trust him. As Mufasa falls to his death and Simba mourns for a brief moment and then gets angry at his uncle, a laughing Scar morphs into Kovu (which shocks Simba), who throws Simba from the cliff to his death. Immediately, Simba wakes up and is a bit scared, only to look around and realize it was just a dream and then he goes back to sleep.
The next morning, Kovu at first tries to sneak up and kill Simba, but is interrupted by Kiara and misses his chance. Kovu teaches Kiara to hunt properly, but they stumble on Timon and Pumbaa, whose favorite feeding ground has been taken over by birds. They enlist the help of the lions to scare the birds off, but it soon turns into a game. Kovu, who has never played or had any real fun in his life, is confused by this new "training", but quickly starts to enjoy himself. Whilst chasing the birds the group run into and are chased by a herd of rhinos but escape from them.
That night, as Kovu and Kiara stargaze, he questions whether Scar is considered one of the "Great Kings of the Past", and Kiara is visibly startled. He confesses that although Scar wasn't his real father, he was still a part of who he is, but Kiara tells him that part may be the darkness that made Scar evil. As Kiara and Kovu embrace, Simba watches unseen and asks Mufasa for guidance as he is lost. Nala tells him that although Simba wants to walk the path expected of him, Kovu may not and should be given a chance. As Simba leaves with Nala to ponder this, Kovu tries to pull away from Kiara, almost confessing his part in the plot against her father. Despite Kiara's pleas, he attempts to leave, but Rafiki stops him. The mandrill then leads Kiara and Kovu to a place called "Upendi", where he helps the two lions fall in love. After Kovu and Kiara return home that night, Simba proves himself by inviting Kovu to sleep inside with the rest of the pride. Vitani watches Kovu give up a prime opportunity to murder Simba and reports back to Zira. Angered, Zira states that Kovu cannot betray them and moves onto another plan.
The next day, Kovu resolves to confess his true intentions to Kiara; however, he is unsure if she will believe him, but has to try anyway. Before he can do so, King Simba shows up and tells Kiara he doesn't want her talking with Kovu because he wants to talk with him, which makes Kiara brighten up. Winking at his daughter, Simba takes Kovu aside for a private conversation, with Kiara happily watching from a distance. Later, Simba and Kovu walk into the area that had been burned in the earlier bushfire from Scar's reign, and Simba tells Kovu the true story of Scar and how he could not let go of his hate. Kovu finally realizes that he has been lied to, but Simba reassures him that, like the green grass springing through the ash, what is "left behind can grow better than the generation before – if given the chance." Suddenly, Zira decides to take matters into her own paws and she and her pride surround Simba and Kovu and she teasingly asks Simba what he is doing out in the area "so alone". Then Zira congratulates Kovu for bringing Simba with him, "just like they've always planned." Believing Zira's words, Simba angrily turns on Kovu as he thinks Kovu tricked him and was behind the plan; in response, a scared Kovu truthfully denies this, but Simba won't listen to him.
Zira orders her pride to attack Simba, and Kovu immediately butts in to try and rescue Simba, only for Vitani to kick him out of the way into a rock, knocking him out. Zira then organizes an ambush against Simba in a desperate attempt to finish him. The Outsiders chase King Simba into a gorge, where he begins to scale a wall of logs to escape. Having woken up, Kovu rushes to Simba's aide and tries to help him, ignoring Zira's orders to get Simba. After Kovu runs off, Nuka, in an attempt to prove himself, impress his mother, and humiliate and degrade his brother, tries to follow and finish Simba off for Zira. He manages to grab hold of Simba's left heel, causing him pain. Nuka is overjoyed as this is now his "moment of glory"; however, he slips and is crushed by the logs. Kovu, who had watched the scene from above, tries to dig him out, but is shoved roughly aside by his mother. Zira lifts up a log to see her eldest son barely alive. He apologizes for failing her before dying. Zira blames Kovu for Nuka's death and slashes him across the face, scarring Kovu in an identical manner to Scar. Kovu defies his mother for the first time and runs back to the Pride Lands. Zira tells the other Outsiders that Simba has turned Kovu against them and declares war, laughing evilly.
Meanwhile, Simba has escaped, but is badly injured. Luckily, Kiara, Timon, and Pumbaa find him and take him back to Pride Rock. Kiara refuses to believe that Kovu could be behind the attack, but she is the only one. Kovu returns and begs forgiveness. Simba refuses and exiles him, and the other animals drive him out. Simba forbids Kiara to leave Pride Rock without an escorted and says that he knows that Kovu is following in Scar's paw prints and that he must follow in his own father's. Kiara tells her father that he will never be Mufasa before fleeing Pride Rock and goes searching for Kovu. As she is about to give up, Kovu appears and the two are reunited. Kiara realizes they have to go back and stop the fighting, telling a dismayed Kovu that if they run away, the two prides will be divided forever. The Outsiders march on the Pride Lands. King Simba leads his lionesses to meet them, and the two prides fight. As the fighting grow intense, Zira steps in to finish Simba off herself.
However, before the two can strike, Kiara and Kovu leap in between them. Kiara pleads with her father to stop the feud and tells him that a wise king once told her "we are one," and that there is no 'they' or 'us,' but "they are us." Zira orders Vitani to attack, but she refuses, telling her that Kiara is right about this, and switches sides. In response, Zira furiously replies that if she will not fight, she will die alongside the Pridelanders. In extreme shock and disgust at Zira's true horrid nature, the other Outsiders immediately change sides, which surprises and confuses Zira, who orders her former pride to come back. While Simba is momentarily distracted by the sound of the river dam cracking, Zira tries to attack, but Kiara interferes, sending them both over the cliff. Kiara lands on a jutting rock, but Zira continues to slide down towards the raging river. Nala warns Simba about the river as he is trying to save Kiara from Zira. Kiara extends her paw to try and pull Zira up, but the bitter lioness, like Scar, is unable to let go of her hate and falls to her death.
Finally, Simba announces that he was wrong about Kovu and invites the Outsiders back home. All the animals in the kingdom gather as King Simba, Queen Nala, Princess Kiara, and Prince Kovu roar proudly on top of Pride Rock, with the lionesses following suit. Soon, Mufasa's ghost congratulates Simba and his actions from the heavens and tells him that they are one.
- Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick), the titular tritagonist. He is the reigning king of the Pride Lands, the mate of Nala, the father of Kiara, later, the father-in-law of Kovu, and the son of Mufasa. He is extremely overprotective of his daughter and forbids her from meeting Kovu in fear of losing her and later, even forbids any more hunts from Kiara. Later, when Simba banishes Kovu and Kiara convinces him to give Kovu a chance as they and the Outsiders are all one, Simba finally realizes his errors, forgives Kovu and admits he was wrong to think he was against him, and allows him, Vitani, and the other Outsiders to join his pride, and is later congratulated by Mufasa's ghost when Kiara marries Kovu, who becomes the new prince of the Pride Lands. Cam Clarke provides his singing voice.
- Nala (voiced by Moira Kelly), the secondary tritagonist. She is the reigning queen of the Pride Lands, the mate of Simba, the mother of Kiara, and later, the mother-in-law of Kovu. She is less protective over her daughter and suggests to Simba not to constantly send Timon and Pumbaa to watch Kiara and to give Kovu a chance, only for her mate to ignore her (as well as everyone else) and stick to his own decisions. Later, when Simba finally admits that he was wrong about Kovu, Nala is very grateful of this, forgives Simba for his previous thoughts, and accepts Kovu into the pride.
- Kiara (voiced by Neve Campbell as a young adult and by Michelle Horn as a cub), the main protagonist. She is the daughter of Simba and Nala and later, the mate of Kovu. Unlike her father, Kiara has no excitement of becoming queen. She falls for Kovu and tries to reunite the feuding prides. Later, before Simba and Zira can begin their fight, Kiara finally manages to convince her father to end this and accept the Outsiders as they are one. Charity Sanoy provides her cub singing voice while Liz Callaway provides her young adult singing voice.
- Kovu (voiced by Jason Marsden as a young adult and by Ryan O'Donohue as a cub), the deuteragonist. He is Zira's son, Nuka and Vitani's younger brother, Scar's adoptive son and hand-chosen heir, and later, the mate of Kiara. He was trained by Zira to kill Simba. Gene Miller provides his young adult singing voice.
- Zira (voiced by Suzanne Pleshette), the main antagonist. She is Nuka, Vitani, and Kovu's mother, the loyal follower of Scar, and the former leader of the Outsiders. She uses Kovu to fulfill Scar's dying wish for him to become his heir, but fails when her son turns on her and joins Simba's pride. Later, after failing to kill Simba and being overthrown by Kiara, she falls into the waterfall below to her death.
- Nuka (voiced by Andy Dick), the secondary antagonist. He is Vitani and Kovu's older brother and Zira's son. He serves as Zira's henchman in her plans. Nuka is jealous over his mother's full attentions towards Kovu and tries to prove himself to his mother. Later, Nuka is killed by falling logs after trying to kill Simba.
- Vitani (voiced by Jennifer Lien as a young adult and by Lacey Chabert as a cub), the (former) tertiary antagonist. She is Nuka and Kovu's sister and Zira's daughter. She is an active supporter of her mother's plans for Kovu. Later, she reforms and changes sides after Zira reveals her true, evil nature that she'd even kill her own children if they didn't follow her orders. Crysta Macalush provides her singing voice as a cub.
- Timon and Pumbaa (voiced by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella) are the comical meerkat and warthog duo who serve as Simba's royal advisers. Simba repeatedly assigns both of them to watch over his daughter under his strict orders.
- Zazu (voiced by Edward Hibbert) is a hornbill who serves as Simba's majordomo.
- Rafiki (voiced by Robert Guillaume) is a wise, elderly mandrill who tries to get Kovu and Kiara to fall in love with each other through Upendi.
- Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones) is Simba's father and the grandfather of Kiara, who was killed in the first film by Scar. He tells his friend Rafiki through the wind to get Kovu and Kiara to fall in love with each other.
- Scar (voiced by Jim Cummings) is the uncle of Simba, the younger brother of Mufasa, the great-uncle of Kiara and the adoptive father of Kovu. He killed Mufasa (and attempted murderer of Simba) in order to gain the throne before his defeat at the claws of Simba, and his death at the jaws of his own minions, the hyenas. He appears in Simba's nightmare and is later seen in Kovu's reflection when he flees from the Pride Lands after being banished by Simba.
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 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. Initially, the sequel was titled The Lion King: Simba's Pride before the II was added in the finalized version of the film.
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 15 million copies to stores for the October 27 release date. In March 2001, it was reported that in its first three days, 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.
Based on 7 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 62% from critics with an average score of 5.6/10.
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 that "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."
Awards and nominations
- Annie Awards
- 1999 - Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Home Video Production. (Won)
- 1999 - Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production - Tom Snow, Marty Panzer, and Jack Feldman (for "We Are One"). (Nominated)
- 1999 - Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production - Joss Whedon (for "My Lullaby"). (Nominated)
- 1999 - Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production - Suzanne Pleshette (for playing Zira). (Nominated)
- Vancouver Effects and Animation Festival
- 1999 - Animated Feature Film. (Won)
- DVD Exclusive Awards
- 2001 - Robert Chapek. (Won)
The musical score of the film was composed by Nick Glennie-Smith, who had co-composed music and conducted the orchestra for the first film. None of the CD releases of the soundtrack contain the orchestral score in the film.
Unlike the original film's songs, which were written by only two composers, several composers compose the film's songs. Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, and Lebo M wrote "He Lives In You" while Tom Snow and Jack Feldman wrote the other songs besides "Upendi", which were composed by Kevin Quinn with Randy Petersen, and "My Lullaby" which was written by Scott Warrender with Joss Whedon.
These are the musical numbers of the film, listed in order of appearance:
- "He Lives In You", is sung off-screen by Lebo M with his African choir. This song is played during the ceremony of the newborn Kiara when presented to the animals of the Pride Lands as Mufasa's spirit lives on despite his death. It was originally sung by Mufasa in the first half and later by Rafiki with Simba and Chorus in the second half of the Broadway musical of The Lion King.
- "We Are One", a song sung by Simba with Kiara teaching her that she is important to her pride and as well as their pride are united as one. The song is reprised instrumentally when Kiara is about to go hunt and at the end of the film.
- "My Lullaby" is sung by Zira, Nuka, and Vitani. It is sung as Zira's wish for Kovu to mature so he can kill Simba. Also, it is very equivalent to "Be Prepared" in which Zira abuses Nuka similar to Scar abusing the hyenas while singing the song. As well, both songs end with the villains along with their followers standing on a landform.
- "Upendi" is sung by Rafiki the baboon as he transports Kiara and Kovu into a paradise so they can fall in love. The word, upendi, originates from the word "penda" meaning love in Swahili. It is equivalent to "Hakuna Matata" and "I Just Can't Wait to be King".
- "One of Us" is a song sung by the African animals as they are driving Kovu out of the Pride Lands after being exiled by Simba. This also marks the first time the African animals have spoken outside the usual cast consisting of lions.
- "Love Will Find a Way" is sung by Kiara and Kovu as they feel love will find a way for them to love each other despite their differences and their families' feud with each other.
- Main article: Return to Pride Rock
On September 8, 1998, Walt Disney Records released a soundtrack inspired by the film titled Return to Pride Rock. It contains the songs in the film as well as new songs composed by Lebo M. The CD was re-released as "enhanced soundtrack" in August 2004.
- The story is meant to be a modern take on William Shakespeare's theatrical play Romeo and Juliet, only without Romeo and Juliet dying.
- The scene where Timon and Pumbaa follow Kiara on her first hunt contains several references to the Timon & Pumbaa episode "Bumble in the Jungle".
- In the Season 3 premiere of The Lion Guard, "Battle for the Pride Lands", the Lion Guard and Makini leave the Pride Lands to find the Tree of Life, which explains Kion’s absence in the sequel.
- The series finale, "Return to the Pride Lands", serves as a sequel to Simba's Pride.