THE LION KING 1 1/2
Review by Michael Jacobson
Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Julie Kavner, Jerry Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg,
Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings, Robert Guilliame, Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 77 Minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2004
beyond what you see…”
*1/2 (what else?)
Rafiki (Guilliame) really meant his above quoted advice for we, the viewing
audience. If we don’t look beyond
what we see in The Lion King 1 ½, all we’re going to see is a rather
poor and substandard attempt at cashing in on a big name film .
Pixar has been looking toward the future, handling Disney’s most creative and
adventurous projects of recent years, Disney itself has been delving more and
more into the past. Let’s see,
there have been sequels to Peter Pan, Cinderella, Lilo & Stitch, The
Jungle Book…and of course, one already for The Lion King.
It makes you wonder if the old think tank at Disney is starting to
run about a quart low.
film tells the story of Timon (Lane) and Pumbaa (Sabella) from before the
beginning of the original picture. At
least, that’s the timeline. There’s
no real story here; merely a demonstration of how the accident prone meerkat and
the flatulent lonely warthog got together.
The running gag is the way the film demonstrates that the comedy
sidekicks were actually there for most of the big scenes of The Lion King, but
of course, we never knew that. Some
may find it amusing. Others may
suspect a lack of fresh ideas.
supposed to accept, for example, that the reason the animals start bowing to
young Simba is because of Pumbaa’s gas, or that they were lurking around
during the “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” number and started the collapse
of the animal pyramid, or there in the elephant graveyard, or just managing to
escape the wildebeest stampede (even though Simba and his father couldn’t), or
best of all, believing they had their own side adventure happening when Simba
finally battles Scar for the throne.
far as originality, the only amusing parts are watching Timon and Pumbaa become
sort of “parents” to young Simba as he grows up (since the first film did
kind of rush through all that). I
didn’t catch the name of the kid who played young Simba, but the similarity in
tone to Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ original performance is uncanny.
As an adult, of course, Matthew Broderick reprised his role.
best aspect of the film is the return of so many of the original stars, which
meant that Disney did spend a little money for this production.
In addition to those mentioned, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim
Cummings return as the hyenas, as well as Moira Kelly as Nala.
Add two new veteran comedy stars in Julie Kavner (as Timon’s mom) and
Jerry Stiller (as his uncle), and you’ve got some good voice casting.
They simply weren’t given worthy material.
are songs here, but no memorable ones. Bits
of “Circle of Life” are repeated so many times that I started growing tired
of a song I once loved. Despite the
comedy potential of Timon and Pumbaa, the laughs are in short supply (the best
gag involves them and Simba relaxing in a bubbling hot spring).
For a direct to video release, the animation is pretty good, but you can
tell the goal was never to completely reproduce the magic of the first film.
problem is an old and common one: when
you continue to tack on one substandard sequel after another, you begin to
diminish the power of the original. Being
that The Lion King is the most successful (traditionally) animated film
of all time, I guess the folks at Disney see more opportunity for quick cash
than for preserving a proud legacy. That’s
a shame…the great characters in The Lion King deserved better.
So did we, the paying audience.
film looks quite good on DVD…I like the fact that Disney opted for an
anamorphic widescreen presentation for a video-only release.
The color palates of their vision of Africa remain bright, vivid and
expressive. Tones are rich and well
contained throughout. I noticed no bleeding or compression interference.
It doesn’t quite have the punch of the original, which was a
spectacular looking DVD, but still plenty good.
DTS mix for a direct-to-video release? I’m
impressed. The action in this film
again doesn’t live up to the original, so the demands on your sound system are
a little less, but there’s still plenty of dynamic range, a few good uses of
the surround speakers, clear dialogue and good sounding music to make this a
pleasant listening experience.
double disc set is mostly filled with features for the kids, but I’m sure
they’ll enjoy them. Disc One has
a “Mickey Mouse Hunt” game, which pops Mickeys on the screen while you watch
the movie…I didn’t do it for very long, so I may have missed the point of
it. There are also 7 deleted scenes
and a preview for the second disc.
disc features a new version of Timon and Pumbaa’s virtual safari (those are
kind of cool), plus a Raven music video, two more interactive games, and a
“Behind the Legend” look at Timon. Grownups
might enjoy the making-of featurette.