Animating Halloween | Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (+ Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh) Review

Plot: It’s Lumpy’s first ever Halloween, but he’s finding the occasion much too scary to enjoy. When Pooh eats all of the candy in the Hundred Acre Wood, Roo and Lumpy head out on a quest to find the legendary Gabloon, who can supposedly grant their wish of mounds of candy or turn them into “jaggedy lanterns.”

Breakdown:

Disney: “Hey there, Twix!”

Oh….Uhmmm….Hi there…Disney….???

Disney: “We heard you recently finished watching and reviewing all of the Disquels!”

Yeah, I did….

Disney: “Do you want a BONUS Disquel experience!?”

….What are you implying by that?

Disney: “Here’s Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie!”

That title is very awkward. Also, again, what did you mean by that? This is a Winnie the Pooh movie. It can’t be a Disquel.

Disney: “Watch it and seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!”

*sigh* There’s something seriously wrong with that guy.

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

I get it.

So yeah, this isn’t a Disquel. It was a direct-to-video movie made in 2005 that was a sequel to another direct-to-video movie, Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, which I’ve never seen. It WAS made by DisneyToon Studios, who were notorious for making the Disquels, so make of that what you will.

Why am I comparing it to a Disquel otherwise? Before I answer that, let me ask you a question. Why do you think Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh is lumped (haha, puns) in on the title?

That’s right, you guessed it! They pulled a total Disquel move. This movie includes the ENTIRETY of that special played off like a flashback. There is only a little more than a half hour of new animation in this hour long movie.

I mean, it is a little better than having three episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (of which Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh is based from) stapled together with hardly any new animation, but still. Lazy, lazy, lazy pricks trying to get money for old rope while ripping off people who have already seen that special.

It’s really jarring, too. This movie came out in 2005 and has sharper animation as well as stronger lines and more saturated colors. Boo to You Too! came out in 1996 and has obviously lower quality than the movie we’re watching.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the fact that they shove in the entirety of Boo to You Too! as an example of how Lumpy can be brave and enjoy Halloween highlights the fact that….this entire movie is basically just a copy of that special….Like…nearly beat for beat.

Piglet/Lumpy is too scared to enjoy Halloween, which nearly causes him to ruin the holiday for everyone else. He’s encouraged by his best friend Pooh/Roo, but it takes Piglet/Lumpy mistakenly believing Pooh/Roo is in danger to get him to brave the scariness. Meanwhile, Pooh/Roo and friends mistakenly believe Piglet/Lumpy is in danger and try to save him. When Piglet/Lumpy believes he’s defeated the nonexistent threat, he finally enjoys Halloween with his friends by his side.

There’s another reason they would have been way better off if they had omitted the Boo to You Too! segment. I’ve never seen it, and I never would never have noticed it was a rip-off of that story if they hadn’t literally shoehorned it into this movie to force me to take notice of their plagiarism. Good job, DisneyToon. You never cease to disappoint.

On its own, it’s a pretty alright movie, same with Boo to You Too! Predictable, sure, but that’s pretty much to be expected with any Winnie the Pooh story. However, I can’t ignore how lazy and obtrusive it is to just chuck Boo to You Too! into this movie.

Give the TV Frankenstein’d Disquels some credit. At least they didn’t tend to ruin their entire movie’s structure by including stories from unaired or aired TV shows that had stories that were exactly the same as their new bookends. Imagine if, in The Little Mermaid 2, they had a scene where Ariel was talking to Melody in the middle of the movie and she went “This reminds me a lot of what I went through at your age.” and then they just played the entirety of The Little Mermaid before cutting back to the main movie.

I wouldn’t be AS bothered if it was just another random old Halloween special crammed in there. It’d still be intrusive and lazy, but it’d be adding some variety of content. Here, though, it’s very clear that this story is just a revamp of Boo to You Too! and they shove this fact in your face.

Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie is a perfectly fine Halloween watch, especially for little kids. It teaches good lessons, and by that I mean it teaches the same good lessons twice in a row, and there are some pretty entertaining and heartwarming moments. If you’ve seen Boo to You Too! though, it’s probably best to keep your finger on the fast forward button. Lumpy’s a very cute character, even if he is a bit too much like Piglet, and Roo was always one of my favorites.

The art and animation is pretty nice, especially for DisneyToon Studios. There was one moment that nearly made me barf though, and that was when they did a completely overly done slow motion cheer in the climax. Seriously, what the hell was that? Saving money by barely animating that part? The musical numbers are also pretty decent, although I can guarantee I’ll forget all of them by the time I’m done writing this review. I just really, really, REALLY wish they had chosen to make the entire movie original instead of putting in an old special to pad it out.

And as sad as it is to say this, I learned that this isn’t the only Winnie the Pooh movie they’ve done this with. They also did the exact same thing with A Very Merry Pooh Year by jamming in Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too in the middle of it…Guess I have something to look forward to this December….

Most of the same points can be said of Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh, barring the art and animation note, which takes a few hits because of the tighter budget and being nearly a decade older than our feature presentation, and, of course, the fact that it’s an entirely original story with nothing placed in the middle of it. It’s a cute Halloween story that people of all ages would enjoy this time of year.

Ratings:

Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh: 7/10

Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie: 4/10


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Animating Halloween | Mickey Mouse: Lonesome Ghosts (1937) Review

Plot: Mickey, Donald and Goofy have created a ghost-hunting business and their newest ‘clients’ happen to be a group of bored ghosts looking for some fun scares.

Breakdown: Ghostbusters 50 years before Ghostbusters. Instead of proton packs, they used a shotgun, a butterfly net and an axe. And instead of “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” they said;

Goofy: “I’m brave!….but careful.”

This short is pretty entertaining, I smiled a few times and even laughed out loud a couple of times, particularly at Goofy. Not their best work, but it’s a nice watch for Halloween. I sometimes get nostalgic for Mickey’s old ‘dot eyes’ design.

I will say that the sound design on the ghosts is terrible. I get that this is the 1930s and they were going for a ghostly echoing voice, but it really just sounds like they recorded their lines in an airplane hangar on their lunch break.

Not much else to say about this short. It’s fun, it’s Halloweeny, it has some great animation, and I still don’t understand how you can fight ghosts with an axe. Supernatural has taught me that the shotgun might be loaded with salt rounds, and Fairly Odd Parents taught me that butterfly nets can catch supernatural beings, but the axe is just silly.


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CSBS | Fillmore! Episode 8 – Ingrid Third Public Enemy #1

CSBS - FILLMORE EPISODE 8

Plot: This episode explores the backstory of how Ingrid and Fillmore became partners in the Safety Patrol. Fillmore, having just lost his best friend and previous partner, Wayne, after he moved to Tennessee, tries to go solo on a case to clear the new kid, Ingrid, of a crime she didn’t commit.

Breakdown: As much as I hate to say this, this was a massively disappointing episode.

I’ve been really looking forward to rewatching the backstory episode because I didn’t remember it, and now I know why I didn’t remember it.

I feel like this episode needed to be a two-parter because it required more time to do the following.

– Flesh out Wayne.

We know he was very important to Fillmore and, maybe, the Safety Patroller who saved Fillmore from his troublemaking ways, but that’s about it. In order to really feel for their connection or care that he’s gone, we needed more time to learn about him and connect with him. He seems like a really nice guy, so it’s a shame he barely misses getting glossed over.

– A little more development on Ingrid and Fillmore’s meeting and relationship.

For someone who supposedly is super pissed that his BFF left and is gunning for the ‘lone wolf’ cop lifestyle, he sure takes a shine to Ingrid quickly and vice versa.

Ingrid was set on writing off this whole school from one day, even admitting to a crime she didn’t commit for the sake of getting expelled, but just knowing that Fillmore had a piece of irrefutable evidence that convinced him that she didn’t do it is enough to make them friends.

Both of them had very bull-headed attitudes that were extinguished way too easily. I liked how they started working together to clear Ingrid’s name, especially utilizing her skills in ‘forensics,’ but they needed more time to work on their relationship from the starting point. Maybe have Fillmore be skeptical purely because he’s salty about Wayne leaving, and then have him be kinda cold to her in interrogation or something, but then slowly realize she’s innocent and make amends.

– Make the case more complex.

The case was WAY too easy. I knew from the second I saw Parnassus that he was the culprit, and the instant someone said he was the smartest kid in school, I knew the motive. It was way too easy, even for a kid’s show. Fillmore!’s usually more clever than this. I was looking for them to subvert my expectations because it’s usually not the first suspect, but they didn’t include any other suspect and he was constantly coming up with new evidence and pointing at Ingrid as a criminal.

We know it’s not Ingrid, because this is a flashback so of course she’s not, and we’ve never seen Parnassus in the previous episodes, so all signs point to him. The insanely bright neon signs…..set on fire….with sirens blaring ‘PARNASSUS DID IT.’

Another odd thing about this episode was the incredibly bad light they put X middle school in. I have stated in the past that X is such a batshit crazy yet awesome school that I would’ve loved to have gone there when I was a kid, but this episode makes it look terrible.

It especially makes Fulsom look like a total bitch. New kid in school? Have a big assembly to not only introduce her, but also embarrass her by proclaiming she’s the smartest kid in school.

Think she’s blissfully unaware of the position this puts Ingrid in? No. This assembly is called for another reason. She knows that new kids are always the targets of abuse just because they’re new and different, so, just to get all the abuse out of the way, she allows the students to pelt the new kid with foam balls for two minutes.

What the fuck? So, instead of stopping the abuse, the school just has it’s own kid version of The Purge by letting them abuse the new kid by throwing balls at them? And the faculty AND Safety Patrol just sit there? They’re ‘harmless foam rubber balls’ but who cares? That’s still terrible.

Who’s to say this even works? The kid is still new and strange to them, they’ll still either ignore or pick on them either way.

I didn’t much like that Ingrid also has a sordid past. Come on, that’s Fillmore’s thing. They can’t both be the reformed criminal. That’s just lazy. And why is this just coming up now? Why has Fillmore been called out for his ‘criminal’ past a few times before but everyone ignores Ingrid’s troublemaking days? Just because she didn’t go to the same school when that stuff happened?

Minor thing, but I also didn’t like that Lemmy, Parnassus’ ‘friend,’ took the heat for Parnassus’ crimes. He seems like a nice guy overall. After Ingrid helped save him in the tire fort, he grabbed her and saved her from the stink bomb in return. Fillmore and Ingrid have plenty of evidence to clear his name but Fulsom won’t hear of it because Parnassus is a massive suck-up.

They actually failed for a change, and that’s just depressing. I know Lemmy helped Parnassus in the crimes, but he just seems like he does everything Parnassus tells him to, seeing him as his only friend.

He didn’t just throw him under the bus, either. He convinces him to make a full, taped confession right in the principal’s office with Parnassus standing right beside him. What a prick.

There were a couple of decent jokes like the cardboard boxes Fillmore runs into when he’s chasing ‘Ingrid’ have the words ‘Cliche Box co.’ on them, and the Safety Patrol in Tennessee not only uses horses, but their stable is in the Safety Patrol room. That does not, in any way, help this episode, though.

Such a shame. The potential of a backstory episode is so vast yet this is what we get. I hope we see more of Wayne and even Parnassus in the future, but as it stands, this episode was incredibly disappointing and just flatout not good.

Rating: 3/10


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Animating Halloween: The Proud Family – A Hero for Halloween Review

AHTPF

Plot: Penny begrudgingly partakes in Halloween as Snack Girl when her parents (taking the roles of Snack Man and Snack Woman) force her into it. She believes Halloween is just for little kids and wants none of it, not even attending Wizard Kelly’s Hallo-Tween Frightacular with special guest Lil Romeo. After consuming one of her father’s putrid Proud Scary Snacks, she gains superpowers. Also, there’s a ghost in Penny’s house.

Breakdown: The last time I tangoed with The Proud Family, I kinda tore into it – justified as though it may be. I did legitimately hope that today I could present a good example of a Proud Family episode to make up for it a little.

Credit where credit is due, this episode is nowhere near as anger inducing as the Kwanzaa special, but it is just all kinds of silly and weird.

Like many episodes, a lot of the characters are just being assholes to each other. Penny’s making fun of her friends and family for partaking in Halloween festivities and acting like she’s better than them because she’s oh-so-mature and refuses to partake at all in such childish frivolity. Her friends make fun of her back. I honestly don’t get why she’s not into the Frightacular, though. She seems to be a fan of Lil Romeo, so why not endure it just to watch him perform live?

Oscar forces her to dress up as Snack Girl and give out his gross Proud Scary Snacks at the door or else she’ll be grounded until the end of the year. Oscar’s also very unpleasant to everyone else, even slamming the door on the face of the guy who was trying to warn him of the ghost, but what else is new?

Addressing the story, yeah, Penny becomes a superhero by eating her father’s gross snacks, after getting hit by lightning because of course…She also loses her powers after a bunch of the snacks get caught up in an exploding ghost.

I kinda don’t feel like giving you the context for any of this stuff, because I don’t think it’d help.

The other kids are enjoying the Frightacular, and for all you Lil Romeo fans out there, he does voice himself here, and he does perform. The song’s pretty good, but it’s a very weird and out of place moment in a Halloween special.

Penny comes to the Frightacular after saving all of the goodie bags from the Gross sisters, and she gets greedy asking for rewards for the deed. She’s invited to perform with Lil Romeo, but we never hear them both (or her at all) singing.

Back with her family, her father is warned by a previous homeowner that their house is haunted by a man named Garret Krebbs, which is why he sold the house to Oscar for a mere $500. And wouldn’t ya know it, even though they’ve lived in the house for over ten years, tonight’s the night Krebbs decides to attack.

Penny saves the day and destroys the ghost, but since she loses her powers as a result of the battle no one believe it was her. However, she’s gained a better appreciation for Halloween as a result.

Also, throughout this entire ordeal, they are very clearly playing a knockoff of the Halloween theme, even though absolutely nothing in this episode has a single thing to do with Halloween, the movie, besides taking place on Halloween….

The next day, everyone talks about the hero who saved Halloween, but Penny keeps her secret. They see something flying in the air, believing it’s the mysterious hero….and it’s Suga Mama’s dog, Puff, who has now become a superhero after eating some of the snacks.

The, uh….end I guess.

I gotta be honest, I completely forgot this Halloween special even existed. I was browsing lists of animated Halloween specials and this one came up as one of the best ones from Disney Channel, and I went from “The Proud Family had a Halloween special?” to “OH YEAH! It did….I completely forget what it was about…” to finally, after looking it up “OH YEAH…I kinda remember that……a little!” And bear in mind, I did watch The Proud Family fairly often when it was airing.

……I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. I don’t really get good Halloween vibes from this special. I don’t get much of anything besides confusion. It’s like a word salad, but with random plot elements.

Have a performance by Lil Romeo. Have Penny gain superpowers. Have her father’s snacks be the conduit for said superpowers, somehow and someway. Have a random as hell meteor nearly hit a small child. Have a ghost wait ten years before attacking the family of the house he’s haunting. Why was he even dicking around pretending to be a magician at the party for several hours before attacking?

I guess the lesson was that Halloween…..Uh…Halloween’s not just for kids….because you can get superpowers? No, that can’t be it. Don’t buy houses for $500 because there has to be a hitch? Maybe….Is there even a lesson in this episode?

By the way, all of this DID actually happen. They didn’t balk and say it was a dream or something. It all legitimately happened. The world of The Proud Family is very, very odd sometimes….and I still haven’t reviewed the movie yet…..

This episode really highlighted how god-awful the animation was in this series. I look back to the Kwanzaa special and realize that they must have bumped up the budget a smidge on that episode because I didn’t have much to complain about there, but here? It actually makes me sad. It’s so cheap, the lip syncing is terrible and there are numerous very obvious loop animations. I remembered the animation quality being bad, but this was near laughable levels. Disney, why was your budgeting for the animated Disney Channel shows so inconsistent?

I guess, at the end of the day, this is a perfectly harmless Halloween special. It’s nothing good or bad, it’s just really, really goofy and nonsensical and doesn’t capture the Halloween mood that much. It didn’t make me angry, it didn’t make me happy, it just kinda baffled me.


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Animating Halloween: Hey Arnold! Arnold’s Halloween

AHHAAH

Plot: Arnold, Gerald and their classmates come up with a Halloween prank to play on the adults. Most of them believe in aliens, so they decide to fake an alien invasion in town. However, the prank gets out of hand quickly, causing the entire city to panic and putting Helga and the other kids in danger of being attacked by an angry mob.

Breakdown: There aren’t that many Halloween specials, particularly animated ones, that ever really made me nervous as a child. And any that did manage to make my heart pump a little faster didn’t manage to continue doing that as I got older.

Arnold’s Halloween is one exception.

“Now, Twix,” you might be asking, “Why Arnold’s Halloween, of all things? It’s a very grounded show. What could possibly make you nervous here, especially as an adult?”

Well…my answer’s actually kinda depressing. It’s because the series is so grounded that this episode manages to make me nervous.

In this episode, Arnold and Gerald get a little annoyed that they’re being kept out of the boarders’ special Halloween plans because, ironically, they’re kids. They decide to get back at them by playing a prank on them. All of the people in the boarding house, and many other adults in the city, are believers in aliens and fans of a local alien TV show. Arnold and Gerald decide to take advantage of this and stage an alien invasion. Helga and the other kids in their class will dress up like aliens and visit the house, they’ll rig the nearby water tower to look like a spaceship and they’ll fake a radio broadcast announcing an alien invasion.

Their plan works very well….ridiculously well….Borderline unrealistically well. Basically, the entire city ends up in a complete panic over this prank, which is being spread because Arnold and Gerlad accidentally sent it out over the regular radio too and the local alien show host caught wind of the situation and broadcast an alert on TV. Everyone’s convinced the aliens have landed and are taking over. The city accidentally ends up in a blackout because of the lights they put on the local water tower, but somehow the water tower itself stays lit. It’s lit so well that no one can tell it’s a water tower, but no one questions where the water tower went.

It’s Hallo-freakin’-ween and hardly anyone has the sense to think this is a prank. Even if the alien show host starts prattling on about it, they should have the sense to think it’s just Halloween nonsense. They then start chasing Helga and her friends with rakes, mallets and sticks.

That’s where things actually start getting tense to me. This insane group of idiot adults is chasing after a group of children with actual weapons intent on hurting on them. Helga and the others try to prove that they’re just kids in costumes, but Harold got some crazy strong makeup that doesn’t rub off. (They could just take off their gloves, but whatever.)

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The one in town who is the most alien-crazy is none other than Helga’s dad, Bob. If you know Bob, you know him being crazy is a scary thing. He’s an untrained militant wack-a-doo who takes any opportunity to whip out his massive hummer and army gear.

He fully believes this invasion is real, so he rallies his friends to go attack the mothership. And by ‘attack the mothership’ I mean fucking BOMB IT.

He legit has bombs (in a bunch of beepers…..He owns a beeper emporium, you see.) that he plans on shooting into the ‘mothership’ after the ‘aliens’ board. Which means, he very nearly blew up a group of nine-year-olds, one of which being his daughter. Holy. Shit.

They also kidnap and tie up Principal Wartz for no other reason than he’s a weenie.

When the kids arrive at the water tower to get away from the angry mob, they become very pissed at Stinky, who is helping Arnold and Gerald, because he accidentally revealed that they were playing a prank the whole time, which greatly confused me. Why wouldn’t Arnold and Gerald let the other kids in on this prank? Maybe they’d like to help. But nope. Instead, they played a prank on them too by telling them to come to the boarding house for a Halloween party.

Helga and the others start attacking Stinky as he runs for the water tower. Seeing this, Bob sets up the others to throw the bombs on his signal and rushes to confront the ‘aliens’ attacking Stinky. He grabs Helga and holds her up in the air by her head, holy shit, and starts frickin’ shaking her over and over. She can’t convince him that she’s Helga because he just thinks that it’s alien mind control.

I was really concerned about Helga here. It may seem stupid in hindsight – this is a kid’s cartoon, Helga’s obviously not going to get hurt – but even as a kid I saw Bob as such an uncaring and intimidating asshole that he very well could have hurt her, especially in one of his crazy modes. I mean, come on, look at what he’s already doing.

Even after Arnold arrives to try and help, Bob doesn’t listen.

By the way, did you forget the bombs?

Bombs.

They hurl the bombs at the water tower, very easily could’ve hit the group below, and they blow a huge hole in the side of the tank. The water finally washes off the makeup, revealing that the ‘aliens’ were just Helga and the others all along. At the very least, Bob realizes what a horrible thing he nearly did (He even says straight out, “I almost killed my own daughter! I’m a monster!”) and hugs Helga, for a change, but, geez, those last few moments were really tense.

And, oddly, I find this episode even more tense as an adult, even though I know the outcome. The reason for this is, now that I’ve grown much older….I realize how stupid people can truly be. It’s still a bit of a stretch to say the whole town went into shambles in less than an hour over alien reports on Halloween, but…mass hysteria plus people being stupid….it’s a hell of a thing. If nothing else, I can certainly believe a small group of yahoos would go out and attack some poor kids, possibly even trying to blow them up. Be honest, if you saw a story like that on the news, would you be surprised? It’ll probably pop up next to a headline that says ‘Gender Reveal Parties Now Leading Cause of Wildfires.’

As much as I like that Helga finally got a hug from her old man and Bob realized what a psycho moron he was being….they didn’t really address the issue they were having throughout the whole episode. Like always, Bob was ignoring Helga, constantly telling her to go away and mistaking her for Olga, and no matter how much Helga wanted her dad’s attention, he wouldn’t give it because he’s an asshole. And….Yeah, after this episode, he’ll continue to ignore her and be an asshole. It happens a lot with Helga-centric episodes involving her parents. It’s quite frustrating.

Still, overall, this is a really good episode. It’s exciting and fun, and there are even some genuinely funny moments in there like Helga miming her dad as he tells his story and Gerald pretending to be the radio announcer. It’s not really a mainstay Halloween special to me, but it’s still one I revisit on occasion.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) ToonMarty

Plot: ToonMarty follows the adventures of Marty, the mascot of ToonMart who becomes alive when a billboard is hit by lightning. Together, he and his friends Burnie and Holly have fun in Toonville under the supervision of Marty’s boss, Jack. (Excerpt taken from Wikipedia for reasons I’ll explain in a second.)

Breakdown: Hey guys, did you know Tubi was a thing? Apparently it’s like Peacock but run by Fox. Weird.

Anyway, one of their available shows is ToonMarty, a show I really didn’t have many expectations for, but pleasantly surprised me. ToonMarty manages to capture the goofy, somewhat random and rubbery style of older cartoons while still fitting into the modern animation world with its writing and jokes.

I found myself smiling an awful lot while watching the first segment, and, somehow, none of the characters got on my nerves, which is especially surprising considering the main character is one of those Spongebob-esque hyper optimistic and happy people. Like Spongebob, he’s endearing without being really annoying (Well, okay, Spongebob can be very annoying sometimes.)

The reason I completely ripped the description from the Wiki is because this episode doesn’t explain the main plot at all. I only watched the first segment before deciding to write this, but the other half of the episode also isn’t the origin story. As far as I can tell, the second episode contains Marty’s backstory, which is kinda weird.

Marty’s origins aren’t even touched upon in the opening theme either, so, needless to say, I was quite shocked when I read that description.

This episode touched upon the fact that Marty either doesn’t have a dad or is estranged from him, because he was surprised to hear that fathers are supposed to spend time with their sons, which did make me wonder….but I never expected the answer to my questions would be ‘Well, it’s because he’s a living mascot who became sentient when a billboard was hit by lightning.’

In that respect, the first episode fails, but it succeeds in every other avenue. It establishes several of the characters quite well, it gives us a taste as to the general vibe of the entire series and it provides a fun, funny and interesting story to draw you in.

The art and animation aren’t that special, but they’re also not that bad. This is a French animation produced for Teletoons, and it’s actually on the higher end for those parameters. ToonMarty was actually produced by Sardine Productions. They have a bunch of other kids shows, and I recognize approximately zero of them.

It looks like it…MIGHT be animated in Flash, but I honestly can’t tell if it is, so that’s good.

I do like the fact that they add some classic 70s style aesthetic in there sometimes, especially during the opening theme song. That was pretty cool.

Final Verdict:Continue Yes

Sadly, ToonMarty only lasted one season and 20 episodes (40 segments) but I think I’ll really have fun watching the rest of the series.


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Animating Halloween: Fancy Nancy – Nancy’s Costume Clash/Nancy’s Ghostly Halloween

FN1

Plot: Fancy Nancy celebrates Halloween!

Breakdown:

*thunderclap*

On the darkest of nights, as Halloween approaches, the spirits of the underworld start seeping into our realm.

Screams in the night.

Thump.

Thud.

Your blood is pumping harder. A cold sweat reaches your brow. You can’t sleep. You shouldn’t have stayed up late watching the most terrifying of Halloween specials. What were you thinking? Why did you do it? Why did you put on….

FANCY NANCY!?

*thunderclap*

Should I mention that when it comes to Halloween and Christmas specials I tend to use the randomizer on the Halloween/Christmas special Wiki pages to select what I watch? Because otherwise I don’t think I’d ever be watching Disney Junior’s Fancy Nancy Halloween Special.

Up until now, I didn’t even realize Fancy Nancy was a thing. It seems like you get what you pay for when it comes to Fancy Nancy. It’s a show about a girl named Nancy who likes her stuff fancy. This is really out of my wheelhouse. I am very much not a girly girl. I don’t care to have my stuff fancy. I am a simple schlub.

So, I’m going to channel my inner fanciness…..Uhm….Hm….How do I do that?

Oh thanks, Patrick!

Our first Halloween story is Nancy’s Costume Clash. Nancy and her friend, Bree, accidentally make the same Nanette the Nice Witch costume for a Halloween party, which is a fashion faux pas. They manage to settle their dispute with a coin flip and Nancy letting Bree wear her old mermaid costume. Everything seems okay until a bitch named Grace shows up wearing her store bought official Nanette the Nice Witch costume.

Like before, they settle this dispute with a coin flip, but Nancy ends up getting the bad end of the deal this time, so she’s forced to change. Her friend, Lionel, offers his old costume, a taco, which doesn’t meet Nancy’s EXCEPTIONAL needs, but she accepts it anyway.

Oh right, the EXCEPTIONAL thing. Nancy has this insanely annoying habit of saying EXCEPTIONAL all the time and needing everything she wears, has or uses being EXCEPTIONAL. Because she’s Fancy Nancy. She needs her stuff fancy. Also, she has a habit of saying French words a lot, which, while being similarly annoying – she’s not French, and really only says those words because French things are fancy by default – is at least educational. She also has a habit of saying ‘fancy’ words, which is meant to help kids with their English vocabulary, which is pretty nice.

She fancifies her taco costume via song break. The song, ‘Exceptional Halloween,’ is actually pretty catchy. When she’s done, the taco costume does look better, but it also looks worse.

FN3

….what the hell is on her head? Is that a bowl of ice cream? Why is there stuff seemingly dripping over the edges of the shell? It really comes off more as a weird seashell costume more than a fancy taco, which actually would’ve worked better considering Bree’s a mermaid.

Everyone loves her costume, and Nancy even compliments Grace on her costume. They bob for apples, everyone’s happy, the end.

This story was pretty okay. It showed a very overused plotline resolved in a less conventional way. Usually stories with ‘OMG We’re wearing the same outfit!?’ angles just involve a lot of bitching and trying to force the other girl to change, but here they just come up with solutions on making everything fair for everyone. Bree and Lionel help Nancy out, and Nancy adds her own pizzazz to be fully happy with her ice cream sea shell taco costume.

But urgh….I don’t think I have the fanciness to continue onto the second half of the episode. It’s too much exceptionalism.

*knock knock*

Hm?

Ah, yes, many thanks, Patrick. How could I have been so absent-minded?

The second segment is about the girls trick or treating. Nancy is wearing a butterfly costume (with really tiny wings and a tutu, which kinda makes it look like a fairy costume.) Why she’s wearing a different costume than she was for the Halloween party, I don’t know. It’s a little chilly out, so her mom tells her to wear a jacket. Nancy doesn’t want to cover her fancy wings, so she asks if she can wear her cloak instead since she can keep it open most of the time to keep her wings uncovered and wrap it around her if she gets cold. Her mom agrees and they go off trick or treating…..by themselves? That’s kinda a weird thing to include in a Disney Junior show. I mean, they only seem to be going to houses they know, but still. They’re like, what, six or seven, and they’re babysitting a kid who’s like four? I didn’t think that going off on your own at that age was kosher anymore.

The kids all start getting spooked by the Halloween decorations in town, but they keep trick or treating anyway.

Nancy doesn’t like having her cloak on since it obscures her wings, so she leaves it on the fence of her neighbor, claiming she’ll come back for it later. Her little sister, Jojo, who is out as a knight, believes Nancy accidentally left it behind, so she puts it on and rushes to chase after her to give it back.

Cue the misunderstanding – Bree and Nancy think Jojo’s a ghost because her helmet locked in place, obscuring her face and making her voice echo, she’s now all cloaked up, and she accidentally hooked a light-up foggy decoration on the cloak to trail behind her.

FN2

The girls and eventually Lionel, whose brilliant costume is just a zombie mask, run away from the ‘ghost’ until they realize it’s Jojo. They laugh it off, Nancy puts her cloak back on and they all go back to trick or treating. The end.

This story was also pretty decent. It was spooky enough for the younglings, but they made it clear that the ‘ghost’ was Jojo so they wouldn’t get too scared. Plus, it was trying to teach a lesson about not letting your imagination run wild and scare you, especially during Halloween where many things are scary, but mostly fake.

Overall, this was a pretty good Halloween special all around. I think I would have tuned in to watch this as a little Twix. My impressions on the show as a whole? Seems all well and good. Nancy IS a little grating just because she’s a very, for lack of a better term, diva-ish character. People were complaining that she’s a brat who always gets what she wants and never learns any lessons, but as far as I saw that’s just flatout not true. She can be a little abrasive, and the EXCEPTIONAL habit is annoying, but she always tries to be fair and nice and does learn lessons when things don’t go her way. She’s a very realistic kid. People need to chill the hell out.

Granted, maybe I’d get really sick of her after watching more episodes, but….I’m probably not gonna do that.

Plus, she’s helping kids develop vocabulary skills, teaching them some very basic French and the show manages to teach some good lessons while not being overly cheesy, talking down to kids and still managing to be entertaining. I was never bored or really irritated while watching it. In addition, the animation and music are quite high-quality. I did find myself enjoying the theme song and the ‘Exceptional Halloween’ song way more than I anticipated.

I leave off this review with the most important lesson anyone could take away from this.


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Dissecting the Disquels: The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (Part Two – Step-By-Step Analysis)

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Simba has become a great king in the Pride Lands, and now he’s welcoming his first child, Kiara, into the world. While Simba has become a bit of an overprotective stick-in-the-mud and greatly values tradition and the kingdom above all else, looking forward to the day when his daughter supersedes him and becomes queen, Kiara is uncertain about her future and just wants to be herself.

When she grows up, she falls in love with a lion from the Outlands named Kovu, who has been trained his whole life to get close to Kiara in order to get in good with the royal family and kill Simba. His mother is Zira, leader of the Outlander lionesses who have previously pledged loyalty to Scar and have been banished to the desolate wasteland outside of the Pride Lands because of it. But when Kovu starts legitimately falling in love with Kiara, their loyalty to both of their lands and their families will be tested. Can love end the feuding once and for all?

Breakdown:

Read Part 1 (In-Depth Analysis) Here.

Part two, baby! Before we start on this section, let’s talk about some of the foundations of the movie’s story.

First and foremost, the Lion King movies all have a tradition of sorts in that they all base themselves off of Shakespeare plays. The original Lion King was based on Hamlet, TLK 1 ½ was based on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and TLK2 is based off of Romeo and Juliet.

Obviously, there’s quite a bit in Romeo and Juliet that simply wasn’t adapted here, especially the suicide bit – that goes a bit too far for Disney’s standards.

Secondly, at face value, this movie seemingly tries to explore racism and/or classism in its narrative. As I’ll discuss further later, if this is a part of the narrative and isn’t just something implied though unfortunate choices of wording or situations, then they don’t do a very good job at all touching upon it. I feel like, after analyzing more, the racism/classism angle is more of a stretch than I initially thought, but it’s something to consider.

Finally, TLK2 is something kinda special in that it does remain canon to this day. In the newest iteration of the franchise, the Disney Junior show, The Lion Guard, all of the characters in this movie are part of the story, to my knowledge. We’ll return to The Lion Guard in the future, but it does show something that Disney actually acknowledges one of the Disquels as actually being canon. Granted, from what I read, TLG messes with a lot in regards to known Lion King lore, but, again, we’ll get to that down the line.

Now for the breakdown of the full story of The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. Enjoy!

—————————————-

Since the beginning of this movie is picking up right where the last movie left off, our story starts out extremely similarly to the first movie, damn near beat-by-beat, only this time Mufasa is shown watching over the presentation ceremony. Also, it seems like they do the presentation ceremony wrong or backwards? Or both. The way the ceremony went for Simba was he had fruit goop put on his head, dust thrown in his face, and then he was brought out to be shown to the animals of the Pride Lands. Here, Kiara is presented, then she has fruit goop put on her head and then it’s done.

Maybe it’s different for princesses. Actually, now that I think about it, the cub at the end of TLK didn’t have goop on his head….it was still a different lion, but goopless. Maybe when you do the goop doesn’t matter?

Goop’s a fun word. Goop goop goop.

Timon and Pumbaa actually seem to mirror the general feeling of this little twist.

Rafiki: “Hehehhe, it is a girl.”

Timon: “Girl….”

Timon and Pumbaa: “GIRL!? Oy…” Also, Timon and Pumbaa are a little sexist here – let’s just admit that. Maybe not fullblown sexist, but a little. Just a smidge.

Skip ahead to Kiara being a little older cub. Overprotective Simba is trying to reel in the adventurous Kiara before she heads off into the wilderness to play. He gives her all sorts of rules for being out by herself, which makes Kiara roll her eyes, but she knows her dad loves her. After agreeing to everything he reminded her about, she heads off.

We get a pretty cute moment between Nala and Simba, and it is really apparent how much Nala has matured over the years. Adult Nala was never really immature, but this Nala has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. She’s always very evenly toned and understanding, yet she still remains playful with Simba, even giving Simba the old trademark pin to the ground. She’s also protective of her daughter, but she’s more trusting and understanding of Kiara’s desires and her personality.

She points out that Kiara is similar to Simba, which Simba points out is a bad thing because they got into so much trouble as kids, but Nala still says she’ll be fine.

Proving Nala’s point, like young Simba, Kiara also likes to practice hunting (though, technically Simba was only practicing pouncing, since lionesses are the hunters.) and she’s enamored with the scary place outside of the Pride Lands borders – in this case the Outlands.

And like Zazu followed Simba and Nala when they went off alone, Timon and Pumbaa are assigned to watch Kiara. However, unlike Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa tail her in ‘secret’ because Simba is so paranoid that he wants to have someone keep an eye on his daughter without letting her know she’s being watched. I have to imagine this is more because of Nala, because Simba tells them to do this while whispering immediately after Nala walked away.

Of course, they suck at it and alert her almost immediately to their presence. It does create a pretty funny sequence afterwards where they nearly drown and crush her, though…..That doesn’t sound nearly as bad in context, trust me.

Which brings me to the weird change in dynamic Timon and Pumbaa now have with Simba. It seems like they’re less his surrogate parents and more his most trusted advisors (considering Zazu’s in this movie for all of 56 seconds.) They’re scared to death of what Simba might do to them if they let anything bad happen to Kiara, and I can’t decide if that’s pathetic or depressing.

They are fine in this movie – their shtick really hasn’t changed at all – but it’s just kinda weird how their role in Simba’s life has changed so much.

We get more insight into Kiara as she feels like literally no one listens to her. She feels like people just see her as just a princess when that’s only half of who she is. When Pumbaa asks who the other half is, she has no real answer. And well she shouldn’t at this point, because she’s still a little kid. Really the only thing she truly knows about herself is that she doesn’t want to be just a princess and she’s none too keen on being a queen because she feels like the position impedes on her freedom and happiness.

As Timon and Pumbaa argue like an old married couple, Kiara sneaks off to the Outlands. I don’t really understand why she does, though. It’s a bunch of dead trees, dirt and gross water. I get that Kiara’s probably a little intrigued because it’s a forbidden area, but it’s really quite boring compared to the vast beauty of the Pride Lands.

As Kiara explores the Outlands, she bumps into the lion cub, Kovu, who tries to intimidate her. However, Kiara kinda bounces back and forth to ‘evade’ him. Kovu doesn’t understand what’s she’s even doing, and Kiara tells him that her father warned her to never talk to an Outsider.

Kovu strikes back by asking if Kiara always does what her daddy says, which she vehemently denies, but Kovu doesn’t believe her. He brags that, as an Outsider, he doesn’t need anybody. He does everything on his own and takes care of himself, leaving Kiara in awe.

But enough of the meet cute – Alligator attack!

The duo are attacked by a slue of alligators, in a scene that might be reflective a little of the elephant graveyard scene in the first movie. I do like how it’s more about Kovu and Kiara working together to get out of this jam than it was when Simba was just protecting Nala. It’s a very well-done and exciting scene. I mean, any adult watching this would be able to deduce that these cubs won’t die. Not only are they cubs, they’re the main characters, but it still manages to be intense.

Back on safe ground, Kiara and Kovu more genuinely meet and bond.

And damn, Kiara’s laying it on thick.

Kiara: *eye flutter* *getting all up in his personal space* “I’m Kiara.”…..Kiara, aren’t you like the equivalent of a first grader? Maybe tone down the sultry voice.

Kiara tries to play Tag with Kovu, but realizes he’s probably never played in a normal non-violent capacity and then tries to play fight with him.

Because I guess their parents believe they’re fighting for real, they swoop in from the shadows roaring their furry faces off, which also reminds me of the elephant graveyard scene, but not so much because they don’t pretend like either of their growls/roars are coming from their parents.

Here’s where we get pretty much the only background exposition – Zira and her lioness posse were banished to the Outlands for reasons.

There.

Hope you’re satisfied.

Zira, I can completely understand. She’s bonkers, hates Simba and probably did something bad to earn being banished. I just find it hard to believe that Scar had this many lionesses who were so dedicated to his, let’s be honest, shitty leadership. I get that he has an allure to him, (I’m aware of the fanart….I wish I wasn’t.) but that idea is a bit more insulting. There are just too many of them to conveniently be missing from the first movie at once. Maybe Zira was the only one really enamored with him and she just managed to rally others into being brainwashed against Simba. I mean, she does seem pretty good at it.

This is also where we really see how deep and acidic this conflict is between the two factions. Even Nala is copping an attitude, and Timon and Pumbaa are sneering at and yelling at Zira to “get outta our Pride Lands.” For God’s sake, Simba even growls at Kovu when he learns that he was hand-picked by Scar to follow in his pawprints. Dude, he’s a little kid trembling in your shadow. Chill.

Simba reminds Zira of the penalty for re-entering the Pride Lands….which…is what? Death? Zira seems to imply it might be death considering she just hands Kovu over to him to seemingly kill. Simba tells her to take Kovu and get out because they’re done here, but in a menacing tone, while staring directly at Kiara, she says “Oh no Simba. We have barely begun.” In this one scene, she pretty much cements herself as being, by far, the best Disquel villain. Granted, it’s not like there’s much competition, but still.

In this one encounter, she sarcastically taunts Simba, plays the victim, tries to sacrifice her son while also challenging Simba at the same time and then threatens the princess. And, by the way, her voice acting is deliciously marvelous. It’s just mwah. She does act a tad like Scar, especially in the theatrics, but she’s certainly enough of her own character to differentiate herself from him.

Each side grabs their respective cub and walks off, with Kiara and Kovu giving each other a meek ‘bye.’ before losing sight of each other. Aw.

Simba breaks away from the group, him and Nala exchanging knowing glances, and Simba starts to lecture Kiara. He asserts that he simply doesn’t want to lose her and reminds her that he won’t always be around to protect her. He tries to also remind her that she’ll be queen one day, but she bursts out that she doesn’t want to be queen because it’s no fun.

Simba says it’s simply in her blood, as he is, they are all part of each other in the great circle of life. Kiara still isn’t buying it, but Simba playfully pushes her off the rock she’s sitting on and he gives that old trademark Simba smile. It’s nice to get those brief glimpses into young Simba every now and then.

They cuddle, and in starts song number one – ‘We Are One.’ You can find a full analysis on my views on this song in part one.

The basic gist is that Simba convinces Kiara that being responsible, being queen and accepting her place in the circle of life is just the way things are. It’s in her blood. She’s not old enough to understand yet, but one day she will be. Kiara solemnly accepts this for now.

Back in the Outlands, we see how desolate their land really is. Lions are pawing at bones, fighting over sticks and, if what I make out in the far back is right, eating termites and ants. We meet Vitani, Kovu’s sister, and Nuka, their older brother. Vitani is a smart and responsible girl, loyal follower of her mother, and Nuka is a bit of a bubblehead, but he’s mostly geared towards jealousy of Kovu for him being Scar’s heir instead of him. He desperately wants his mother’s attention above all else, but is usually overlooked.

Zira chews Nuka out for not watching Kovu, but Kovu defends him by saying it was his idea. Zira threatening reminds him that Simba is the enemy – the one who killed Scar, the one who banished them to the Outlands – and he should never associate with him or the Pride Landers. Kovu tries to explain himself by saying Kiara didn’t seem so bad, and he thought they might be friends. Zira scoffs at the idea until she starts believing he was cooking up an idea of getting close to Kiara so he could get close to Simba – be a bit of an insider agent and take them down. Zira praises her son for such a brilliant idea and marvels at how much he’s taking after Scar, much to Nuka’s disgust.

Zira takes Kovu back to their den to put him to bed, jazzed about the future opportunities this new plan presents to them. Kovu will kill Simba, avenge Scar, and reclaim the throne in Scar’s name. In comes the most awesome villain song of the Disquels (which isn’t saying much, honestly) and one of my favorite villain songs in general, ‘My Lullaby.’ The analysis of which you can find in part one, but damn, I love that song.

Cut to Rafiki, who acts as our time skip interlude. He makes drawings on the wall of Kiara and Kovu, explaining to Mufasa about his growing hopes for Kiara as future queen, but also his increasing concerns about Kovu growing into a threat under Zira’s guidance. Mufasa tells him through symbolism that he wants Kiara and Kovu to be together to unite the Pride Lands and the Outlands and end the tension between the two. Rafiki thinks he’s a crazy person, but after getting a gust of wind blown in his face, he relents and agrees with his plan.

So….from what I gather, Rafiki’s role in this movie is basically Friar Lawrence, only….he’s pretty much pointless. Rafiki’s only meant to speed along a process that is clearly already going to happen. The most he does is, later, when Kiara and Kovu are enjoying their time together and falling further in love, a slight rift in their relationship develops because of Kovu’s conflict with his secret duty, so he wraps them up in a happy peppy love song to make them love each other….more? Maybe to make Kovu more determined to stay with her and end the charade? I don’t dislike Rafiki here, he’s perfectly fine, I just don’t think they knew what to do with him that much.

In The Lion King, Rafiki acted as a guide for Simba to figure out who he truly was. He lead him to literally reflecting on himself and contacting the spirit of his father, which eventually prompted him to go back home and face his past and Scar. While it’s likely Simba probably would have gone home anyway, he was having an inner crisis about the situation and needed both the guidance of Rafiki and Mufasa to finally have the courage to go back. Also, Rafiki told Nala, Timon and Pumbaa that he went home, but that’s minor.

In TLK2, his role isn’t anywhere near that vital. Kovu and Kiara are already flirting with each other as cubs – they’re bound to fall in love as adults no matter the circumstances, which they did. It’s not like he did anything to streamline or allow their reunion. It’s not like he talked to Simba about giving Kovu a chance – he just sang a love-themed dance song. Again, I’m not saying I dislike his role here – he’s still a fun and unique character, especially when he was having his ‘conversation’ with Mufasa – but I wish he had been given more importance is all.

Time skip ahead a few years, and now Kovu and Kiara are adults. Kovu is sufficiently brainwashed by Zira. He’s set on his mission to trick Kiara, get close to her and subsequently get close to Simba so he can kill him.

Kiara, however, has become a beautiful young princess ready to go on her first solo hunt as a rite of passage, despite Simba’s reluctance. He promises to let her do it on her own, but sends Timon and Pumbaa out directly behind her anyway. Kiara is very excited to finally head out by herself, but finds that hunting is much harder than she anticipated. She keeps scaring away her prey by making noise. Already frustrated by fumbling her hunting mission so many times, she becomes enraged when she finds Timon and Pumbaa shadowing her under Simba’s orders, breaking his promise.

Gotta say, he was definitely starting to overstep his bounds here. If he wants to send babysitters after Kiara when she’s a little cub, fine. But sending them out when she’s performing a rite of passage as an adult is just insulting.

Kiara gets so angry that she runs off declaring that she’ll hunt on her own away from the Pride Lands. She runs off and manages to escape Timon and Pumbaa.

Meanwhile, a now-grown Vitani and Nuka head to the old hideout of Scar and the hyenas. The hyenas supposedly fled the area some time after Scar died for some reason. I would say maybe they were forced out, but they technically killed Scar and figured out he was a conniving asshole in the end, so I dunno where they went. They’re there to set some sticks on fire via the……*lip smack* I’m not exactly sure what’s happening here, to be honest. She sets some sticks on a hole in the ground, what looks like steam shoots out and then the sticks are ablaze.

I did learn of something called fumaroles, which are cracks or holes in the ground where shallow pockets of magma meet the groundwater and make steam and toxic gases, but that wouldn’t set the sticks on fire. Can someone more schooled on volcanoes/magma please explain how she just did that? Because I feel I’m might be missing something very basic.

It’s even weirder because, afterward, Nuka sticks his face over the top of the hole (scholar he is) and the steam shoots up, but his head isn’t set on fire (despite him yelling ‘AH, FIRE!!!’) it’s just kinda singed.

Anyway, they need the fire to start their plan to have Kovu infiltrate the Pride Lands and assassinate Simba. They set the land around her hunting area on fire to trap her in so they can send out Kovu to swoop in and save her.

Kiara does indeed get completely trapped by flames, in a pretty damn intense scene, but manages to give herself a somewhat safe spot for a minute by fleeing to the top of a tall rock. She ends up passing out anyway due to the heat and smoke. The last thing she sees is Kovu standing over her. He throws her on his back and rushes her out of the area. They accidentally tumble down a cliffside, so he then has to rescue her from drowning.

When he gets her to shore, she becomes upset because he brought her back to the Pride Lands. He’s understandably, confused as to why she’s pissed that he saved her life, but Kiara asserts that she didn’t need help – she had everything under control.

She tries to leave, but Kovu charmingly reminds her of who he is by referencing an exchange they had when they met. Kiara’s happy to see him, but it’s shortlived because Simba and Nala show up, and Simba’s none too happy. Kiara yells at him for breaking his promise, but he doesn’t care because he now feels fully justified in doing so since she nearly got killed. And he’s angry about it too like it’s her fault the fire started? He bans her from hunting forever because logic.

Rafiki shows up to tell Simba that Kovu saved Kiara’s life, even though, again, that’s information that didn’t need to given by Rafiki and would’ve been given by either Kovu or Kiara (or even Zazu – he was a witness) soon enough.

Kovu puts on his act and pretends that he’s a good lion who has left the Outsiders. He’s now a rogue who wishes to join the pride in Pride Rock, but Simba vehemently refuses. Kovu challenges that position because all he’s done, to Simba’s knowledge, is save Kiara’s life, but Simba seems to be persecuting him for a crime he didn’t commit.

Simba has to concede a bit here, because despite becoming a bit of an asshole in his older age he does still have some reasonableness in him, but it conflicts him greatly. He paces back and forth, frustrated that this is even an option being presented to him. However, with the words of Nala and even Zazu, reminding him that all debts must be repaid under royal decree – one his father created – Simba decides to allow Kovu to stay but basically on a probationary period. He’ll reserve actual judgment on whether he can stay after getting to know him more.

Zazu: “Hmph, riffraff.”…Erf….Okay, I can’t keep quiet about this anymore. I mentioned earlier the stuff about racism/classism that seems to be popping up throughout the movie, and it’s comments like these that really drive the point home.

Riffraff may seem like a silly insult in a modern vernacular, but he’s basically calling Kovu lower class trash right now. It’s uncomfortable how superior Zazu keeps acting to the Outsiders. Despite many characters in the Pride Lands having similar views, he’s the one who keeps being snide about it. You can maybe excuse it for the older lioness Outsiders since they may have done something to earn this ire, but this is Kovu – a young lion who has seemingly done absolutely nothing but exist and save the princess’s life.

It’s even more uncomfortable when you take into consideration that Simba and Zazu are basically falling into the typical stereotype of royalty – believing the lower class is literally below them even though it’s pretty much their fault that they’re in that position. Here, Simba literally is the direct reason why Kovu is ‘riffraff.’ He can’t control who his mother is, and he wasn’t a part of what she may have done.

And before anyone says it, yes, even here, Simba is kinda justified because Kovu IS planning something and he’s NOT on the up and up, but outside of him being born under unfortunate circumstances (Considering both Zira’s influence and being chosen by Scar.) Simba has no reason to be so vehemently against this. Simba’s making assumptions based on Kovu’s lineage and where he lives, and that’s not right. Everyone should be given a chance and judged on their individual character not on factors beyond their control.

Also,

I couldn’t not make that reference.

They all head back home, but Kovu is not allowed in the den – he has to sleep outside.

After everyone else heads in, Kiara goes to Kovu to thank him for saving her, but he scoffs at her skills as a hunter and tells her she’d never survive on her own. Kiara similarly scoffs and mockingly asks if he’d teach her, he mockingly says he would and then she seriously accepts his offer.

Later that night, Simba has a rather odd nightmare. Scenes like this usually feel like they’d otherwise be deleted, but they kept this one for some reason. Simba’s remembering his father’s death. Mufasa’s crying out for Simba as he’s latched onto the side of the cliff. Simba tries to reach him, but Scar grabs Simba’s paw and prevents him from saving Mufasa. Scar tells Simba to trust him. As Mufasa falls down to the stampede below, Simba glares up at Scar who suddenly turns into Kovu. Kovu throws Simba off the cliff, causing him to follow his father in death.

This is a really interesting nightmare because it does provide us with more insight into why Simba is so wary of trusting others. He trusted Scar, his own uncle, and look where that got him. It got his father killed and lead the Pride Lands into several years of suffering, nearly wiping them all out.

It doesn’t change the fact that Simba’s going a bit too far with it, but it does allow you to see his side a little better.

The dream is also prophetic because, yeah, Kovu is being sent there to get him to ‘trust (him)’ so he can betray Simba and kill him. Also, later, he will have a scar on his left eye.

However, he’s not seeing the flip side of the situation, which is the fact that the only way he defeated Scar and took his rightful place as king back was by trusting and working side by side with his family and friends. His traumas and fears are overshadowing that aspect. It makes his plight more understandable, but not fully.

He’s still placing a lot of misplaced fear and anger on someone for poor reasons. Even with the Scar stuff in play, Kovu was named his successor probably immediately after he was born. He hadn’t developed any sort of personality by that point, nor did he have any control over the situation.

This is one of those times where I kinda wish they had been able to work it so that Kovu was Scar’s son. Then Simba’s fears might be a little more founded. It’d still be kinda stupid, of course – people aren’t defined by their parents, especially if they didn’t raise them – but considering Simba takes such, forgive the pun, pride in being Mufasa’s son, it only makes sense that he’d have a great respect for bloodlines and believe that they do greatly influence someone as a person.

It would also make the conflict between the Outlands and the Pride Lands stronger too because they’d see Scar as being the true ruler of the Pride Lands, and Kovu, being his son, would be considered the true king now on a more legitimate level. Remember, Scar was technically royalty. He was still a prince – meaning Kovu would have had royal blood in him to strengthen this idea even further.

But I guess that’s just something to sit on anyway. Unless they removed the romance angle or became an anime, they’d never be able to work Kovu as Scar’s son.

The next morning, we get a really cool shot where a very gentle rendition of ‘We Are One’ starts playing as Simba stretches in the sunrise. There’s a part where Simba shakes off and it’s accompanied by a cymbal swell, and I just thought that was a cool detail.

Another cool detail was how the music changes to menacing in tone when Kovu is spotted prepping to ambush Simba while Simba goes to the watering hole for a drink. Not sure why he’s choosing now to attack. His guard is still very much up. He hasn’t really gotten that close to Kiara yet. He’d be way better off playing the long game. If the plan was just to wait in the shadows and attack when he was taking a drink, they’d just sneak around and do that. There’s no point using Kovu to get close to Kiara.

Anyway, Kiara pops up from nowhere and greets Kovu for her hunting lesson.

Cut to Kovu playing the prey while Kiara tries to sneak attack him, but fails miserably because she’s making a variety of noises the entire time. It’s weird how the sequence immediately preceding this scene is one where she sneaks up on Kovu flawlessly, especially when he was prepping for an attack.

Kovu tells her that she’s breathing too hard and needs to relax so she can more accurately become in tune with her environment and reduce noise as much as possible. To demonstrate what he means, Kovu decides to attack something hidden nearby, but it’s a panicked Timon begging for his life.

Timon explains that he and Pumbaa are trying to enjoy a treasure trove of bugs, but they’re being gobbled up by a flock of birds who won’t go away no matter how much they try to scare them.

Pumbaa wonders if Kovu could help them out (and Timon takes the credit for the idea because he’s a jackass) and he and Kiara start roaring to get all the birds out.

They all start running around roaring and having fun, which baffles Kovu because he still doesn’t understand playing or fun, which is even sadder than it was before. This poor kid has been robbed of a childhood.

They’re stopped dead in their tracks when they come upon a herd of rhinos who are buddies with the birds. They’re none too happy that their bird friends have been harassed, so they chase the group in retaliation.

They manage to hide in a very small cave, still yuckin’ it up and having a great time. Timon even ruffles Kovu’s hair and gives him his seal of approval, which was nice of him. When Timon and Pumbaa pluck themselves out of the hiding space, Kiara and Kovu accidentally smooch. OooooOOOOOoooohhhhh!

Later that night, Kovu and Kiara go stargazing and pick out some clouds that look like various shapes, but Kovu can’t help himself but see scenes of violence in some of them.

Kovu admits that he’s never stargazed before, which surprises Kiara since she and Simba used to do it often. He took that opportunity to explain how the great kings of the past are among the stars. Kovu wonders if Scar is up there, which obviously makes things a little awkward.

He solemnly tells Kiara that, despite Scar not being his father, he was still a part of him….I still don’t quite get that, though. Did he actually know Scar? Like…did he ever meet him? How can someone who is not related to you be a part of you if you never knew them? Scar simply pointing his paw at Zira’s new baby and saying ‘He’s my heir’ doesn’t automatically make someone connected to someone else.

Maybe he feels like Scar was a part of him because he was constantly told stories about him and everyone kept hailing him as Scar’s successor? I guess, under those circumstances, you probably couldn’t help but develop a weird sense of attachment to someone that way.

Kiara tells Kovu that her father once said that Scar had a darkness in him that he couldn’t escape. Mmm……I mean, I guess. If you take the books as being canon again, then Scar has been a little asshole since day one. He became endlessly upset once Mufasa was named primary heir to the throne when they were (the equivalent to) teenage lions. He tried to have Mufasa killed shortly after he was named future king, so he’s been a psychopath for a long time. Add to that years of stewing in jealousy and then Simba taking his place as next in line for the throne again and you have a pot full of evil stew. He’s pretty much just straight-up evil. He never tried to be good legitimately, as far as I know.

Fun fact: In the books, Scar’s original name was Taka, which has two meanings in Swahili – Waste and want. Both of these definitions fit Scar to a tee because he is fueled by jealousy (Wanting something he can’t have) and his life was basically a waste because he had such great knowledge and sophistication that he could have made him a great and lasting ally on the side of good, but he wasted it all to be evil and that lead to his death.

Apparently, The Lion Guard gave him an entirely new backstory to actually establish a canon backstory for him, but I prefer Taka being his original name than Askari. That name doesn’t fit him at all. Granted, if you look at it from a larger perspective, Mufasa and Scar’s parents come off as assholes if they give one son a name that means ‘king’ and the other a name that means ‘waste’ and ‘want.’ Askari, for the record, can mean ‘police’ ‘soldier’ and ‘guard’ and it was derived from their ancestor, who was a great king of the Pride Lands. Scar himself would later become leader of the lion guard, but I’m getting way off-topic, and The Lion Guard is a review for another day, so let’s move on.

Kovu wonders if there’s a darkness in him too, and Kiara cuddles with him to comfort him. Awww.

Anyway, Simba’s watching this from afar….….creepy. He’s talking to the spirit of Mufasa (not literally) about his conflict in accepting Kovu since he’s an Outsider and Scar’s heir.

In comes Nala with her longest scene clocking in at thirty seconds. I wish I was kidding. I know there’s just not a lot for Nala to do, but it’s disappointing that such a beloved character is given such short bursts of screentime.

Nala tries to explain to Simba that he’s so preoccupied trying to uphold his father’s legacy and do what’s expected of him that it’s clouding his judgment on Kovu, who might not want to walk the path set before him. The only way he’ll find the answer is by getting to know Kovu.

Cut back to Kovu and Kiara, and Kovu starts pulling away from Kiara because he feels guilty. He’s just about to tell Kiara about the plan to assassinate Simba, but decides not to and starts walking away. Rafiki busts in to stop him from leaving and leads them to Upendi. I guess I’ll give Rafiki some credit here because Kovu was starting to leave for…somewhere. Either he was about to just leave for the den, which leaves things open for their relationship to start back up again, he was about to bail on the mission and head back home or he was about to bail on the mission and run away somewhere. I always believed the first option, which makes the most sense. Still, there was no indication that their budding romance would end here if it wasn’t for Rafiki interfering.

Rafiki leads them to ‘Upendi’ which is basically a weird Tunnel of Love ride. Rafiki’s using a musical number to lock in their love, (Upendi means love) and because this is a musical, it works very well. (See part one for more information on my views of the song itself.)

After all the fun and luvey-duvey-wuvey-ness (Though….what time is it? Because it looks like the sun is about to rise and they were stargazing before the song, yet they’re going to bed?), they happily head back to the den. Simba decides to finally let Kovu inside the den to sleep, but as they’re walking in we see Vitani watching them. Vitani is silently urging Kovu to attack Simba now that he’s in with Kiara and Simba has his back turned to him. However, Kovu is too enamored with this new life he’s making in the Pride Lands that he doesn’t even think to do it. Frustrated, Vitani goes off immediately to report to Zira, who is not happy to say the least.

Zira realizes that Kovu has been swayed by Simba and Kiara and that he’s likely not going to go through with the plan. However, Zira is not going to allow Kovu to betray them nor is she going to let her plan fail because of him. She has a plan B….

The next morning, Kovu starts panicking because he realizes that he absolutely needs to tell Kiara about the plot now both because he probably realizes he can’t meander around for too long without something happening and because he feels he can’t keep lying to her and have a relationship with her. He practices to himself about what he’d say to her, but doesn’t have a lot of faith that it will work. Either way, he goes off to try.

Kovu: “Kiara, I need to talk to you!”

Simba: “Kiara, I don’t want you talking with him!…..I want to talk with him.”

Simba…it’s great that you’re warming up to the lad, but uh….kinda rude there. I know we couldn’t have Kovu actually confess and reveal the plot right now, it’d mess the rest of the story up, but really Simba? You can’t wait five minutes before you go off and have your little bonding moment?

Kiara is tickled pink that her father is warming up to Kovu. And aw, Simba’s little wink to her as they walk off. He is so adorkable sometimes.

As Simba and Kovu walk together through the ashes of the fire that occurred a few days prior, Simba relays the real story of Scar to Kovu, who is shocked. He now sees what a terrible person Scar really was.

Kovu: “He really was a killer.”

Simba: “….Fire is a killer. Sometimes, what’s left behind can grow better than the generation before…..if given the chance.”

I always really liked this exchange. Fire causes a lot of death and destruction. Simba knows this all too well because of the fire that raged in Pride Rock when he returned and fought Scar. And the fire started the instant Scar reached a crescendo in his intimidation of Simba, nearly causing his death. Also, the attack that resulted in Simba kicking him off the cliff and into the area where the hyenas were started by Scar jumping through the flames in an almost demonic manner. Once Scar died, the fire was nearly instantaneously put out, and everything was able to slowly regrow back into the lush and beautiful landscape that the Pride Lands originally were.

Zira (though technically Vitani and Nuka) used fire and burned all of this land just to start up a plot to kill Simba. However, Simba reveals a little seedling under the ash when he says the second part of the line, indicating that no matter how bad things look, the ones left behind can still flourish and make something beautiful again.

He’s obviously talking about giving Kovu a chance here, but I think he may also be foreshadowing the resolution later on. Remember, Simba is technically the generation after Scar. He’s been working very hard to ensure that everything’s ‘better’ than it was before, but he’s also been too blinded by fear and anger to be able to work anything out with any of the Outsiders. Zira may be a lost cause, but who’s to say anyone else there is – especially the children? And now, as we’ll see later, the next generation, Kiara and Kovu’s, help Simba’s generation see the light and eventually break down those barriers.

….I mean….the way they do it is silly, but…we’ll get to that later.

Ya know, I never really thought about it, but Kovu never had a father figure. With him, you’re so preoccupied with his connection to Scar that you never take the fact that he didn’t have a father at all into consideration. And with Zira’s nature, it’s understandable that he’s never had an actual heart to heart with a parental figure like this. It’s sweet….but bound to be ruined when the shit hits the fan.

Speaking of which….

Zira and the other Outsiders emerge from the haze. Gotta say, they made them look insanely intimidating during this sequence. Maybe a bit too much like zombies, but holy crap.

Zira congratulates Kovu on a job well done, which is such a terrible thing to do to him. In most other situations like this, Zira probably would have just done the predictable thing and called Kovu out for being a traitor while deciding to take matters into her own hands, but oh no. She decides to play pretend and act like Kovu was part of this ambush, deceiving Simba this whole time so she could simultaneously corner Simba, kill him and effectively squash any chance Kovu has of finding acceptance and happiness in the Pride Lands if Simba does get away. All to punish Kovu for balking on them. What an evil woman.

Zira commands the lionesses (And Nuka) to attack Simba. Kovu tries to get them off of Simba, but he’s flung into a rock and knocked out. Simba manages to knock the lionesses off, but he falls down a cliffside. He continues running, but he’s lead to a massive dam made of logs. He scrambles up the dam, with a now less unconscious Kovu watching from the top of the cliff. He immediately scurries down to help.

Nuka rushes in to kill Simba instead, taking his opportunity to impress his mother and have his moment of glory. He does nearly manage to pull Simba down, but he falls and is crushed by falling logs when Simba gets back on solid ground.

Yup, they killed Nuka. Crushed to death, which one of the worst ways they’ve had someone killed in Disney features. He didn’t even die immediately. Kovu rushes down to try and dig him out, but is swatted away by Zira who furiously digs to him. She’s devastated when she finds him near death. He weakly tells her,

Nuka: “I’m sorry, mother….I tried.”

In a deleted part of this scene, his final words were originally “Well…I finally got your attention didn’t I?” I like the changed version better because the original line makes it seem like Nuka’s kinda putting Zira on a guilt trip.

This scene, despite Nuka being a jackass, stayed with me through the years because it is such a dramatic and emotionally impacting scene. Zira, who has been nothing but an evil bitch and has never shown Nuka any caring, is visibly devastated by this. She rushes in to dig him out, not even caring at all that Simba got away, is shocked to find the state Nuka’s in, her voice cracks while trying to talk to him, and she even cradles his head and comforts him as he finally passes.

For a handful of seconds, you find yourself really sympathizing with both Nuka and Zira, which is something you never really got to do with Scar.

And let me point out that Nuka’s death is not quick, and it’s pretty morbid when you really pay attention. Not only did he not die immediately, which is what usually happens in Disney movies, but he was so badly pinned by the logs that they couldn’t extract his body and give him a proper funeral (however that’s done in the TLK world. They had a memorial service for Mufasa and Simba, but we never see if they did anything with Mufasa’s body.) They just had to have a short memorial service right there at the dam. Geez.

As much as I don’t care for Andy Dick, he also did a really good job acting during this scene too. He really sold it.

Back in the Pride Lands, Simba hobbles home. Zazu rushes to get help, and Simba is only able to convey that Kovu was part of an ambush on him before he passes out. Timon and Pumbaa help him back home, and as much shit as I give Timon it is very adorable that he carries Simba’s tail on the way back. However, Kiara is in shock and disbelief that Kovu would be a part of an attack on her father.

Meanwhile, back at Nuka’s funeral, Zira blames the entire fiasco on Kovu because, had he just killed Simba when he had the chance, none of this would have happened. She viciously slaps him in the face, leaving a very familiar scar across his left eye. Dun dun dunnnnnn…..however, even as a kid, I realized how bunk this was. Either she grazed him just enough to skim his fur off but not leave a wound or he has a permanent scar from a wound that didn’t bleed. In the closeup, you can see an indent in his skin, so I’m forced to believe the latter.

Again, questionable canonicity, but Scar and Kovu basically got their scars for the same reason, just on a flipside in regards to intent. Taka was scarred by a bison whom he had tried to trick into killing Mufasa, but his plan backfired on him. Kovu was scarred by Zira because she felt he had betrayed them, resulting in Nuka’s death. See? They both got scarred for ‘betraying’ their families/brothers.

….I know I probably look too much into some of this stuff, but I find it interesting.

Zira and Kovu get into a big argument about him betraying their pride and Scar, but he finally stands up to her. Zira will have none of it, though, and directly blames Kovu for Nuka’s death, even straight out saying “You’ve killed your own brother!” Damn.

Kovu runs off, but Zira refuses to pursue him. Instead, she rallies the Outsiders for one final attack now that Simba’s too weak to fend them off.

Back in Pride Rock, Kovu shocks everyone by showing up after he was seemingly a part of the attack on Simba. Everyone’s whispering about him, even pointing out the scar on his face.

Also, apparently Simba’s better now. He went from being half unconscious on the ground to acting perfectly fine when talking to Kovu. He never had so much as a visible scratch on him, but if you’re going to make the play that he’s now so wounded and weak that he’s prime for the assassinatin’ then at least…do…something with him. Dirty him up, scruff up his fur, weaken his voice, have him supported by Nala or something as he tries to maintain his balance. You’d never know he was just in a battle with dozens of lionesses and nearly died.

Kovu asserts that he had nothing to do with the attack and begs for forgiveness. Kiara pleads with her father, but he’s had enough. He doesn’t believe a word of what Kovu is saying and officially exiles him from the Pride Lands.

In comes ‘One of Us’ (See part one for my full analysis on this song.) Dammmnnnnn I love this song so much, it’s not funny. Admittedly, I might be overly attached to it because it was also put in a lot of Zuko fanvids back in the day, but it’s just such an awesome song.

The song shows all of the animals in the Pride Lands shunning Kovu as he hastily makes his way out after being exiled. It’s a very powerful and sad song because we know Kovu is innocent, but here he is being punished for a crime he didn’t commit…again. However, I can’t really blame Simba too much this time.

Sure, he can explain this away. Afterall, Kovu introduced himself as a rogue so it’s plausible that Zira would screw him over as revenge for turning his back on the Outsiders, but, all things considered, and given how much it took for Simba to even give him a chance, it’s understandable that Simba wouldn’t listen to him and choose to exile him.

In a cool shot, they throwback to the original movie and show Kovu looking into his reflection in the water and it turns to an image of Scar (which I guess means he must have met him before, so that doesn’t make things any less confusing.) In The Lion King, Rafiki showed Simba that Mufasa’s spirit lived in him by showing him his reflection in the water and it turning to an image of Mufasa. So here, Kovu sees Scar, but instead of being comforted and empowered like Simba was, Kovu is frightened of ‘his fate’ as Scar’s heir.

Kiara is fully pissed, though. She believes Simba should have at least heard Kovu out, but Simba’s just done. He even tells Kiara that she’s not to go anywhere without an escort from now on, which, again, while being a little understandable (he’s probably worried she might be the next target) she didn’t do anything and shouldn’t be punished for no reason. However, he makes it even worse by telling her she won’t leave Pride Rock period so he can keep an eye on her, which is way too far.

Simba: “I know he’s following in Scar’s pawprints….and I must follow in my father’s.”

Kiara: “You will never be Mufasa!”

Oh shit! Like, really, Kiara. Damn. Twist that knife, why don’t ya?

Although, points off because Kiara never knew Mufasa, so she doesn’t really have any ammo to shoot off that hot take.

Also, he kinda is like Mufasa in a lot of ways, both good and bad. It’s heavily implied that Mufasa exiled the hyenas (because they were too destructive) to a place where they had little food and water too. I think Mufasa had more diplomacy and a more even head about things, though. Those things come with experience and time.

Also also, fun fact, the hyenas were originally meant to be under Zira’s command in this movie instead of a bunch of other lionesses, but the lionesses make more sense. There’s no reason why the hyenas would be helping a bunch of Scar groupies. Remember, Scar betrayed the hyenas. Oh and there’s that little thing about them eating Scar alive in vengeance of him screwing them over.

The lionesses are a great deal more threatening, considering they seem more like true threats and soldiers than minions with teeth, but it’s just kinda hard to swallow that there were this many Scar fangirls out there, considering how shitty things were when he was king.

Moving on, Kiara escapes the den out of the back and goes off to find Kovu to no avail. She sees her reflection in the water and is shocked to see half of her reflection isn’t appearing. Which must mean she’s half vampire.

Sorry, I meant to say she’s missing her other half IE Kovu. Now, I do like this imagery and it does tie in well to the ‘We Are One’ theme the movie has going through it. And I am a bit of a schmuck when it comes to the idea of soulmates, but I am fully aware of how iffy the concept is, especially when it comes to imagery like this. Kiara is literally not a whole person unless she’s with Kovu now? That does sound romantic, but Kiara has enough issues as a character without implying that she’s less of a person without Kovu.

It is pretty cool that she’s revisiting previous locations from early on in the movie, though. The first place she visits is the rock that she was sitting on when she was a cub staring in awe at the Outlands. Also, it’s the place she nearly drowned in, but it barely covers her paws now. Next, she goes to the little cramped cave where she and Kovu first kissed, but doesn’t find him.

That night, we get our next song, ‘Love Will Find a Way.’ Kiara’s wandering around sullen looking for Kovu and, as movies typically do with heartbroken characters, she keeps stumbling upon a bunch of happy animal couples.

Now, as much as I do love this song (see part one for a full analysis);

Kiara: “I may not be brave or strong or smart….” I really hate that line so much. Stop highlighting how problematic her character is, and stop acting like the only thing she has going for her is Kovu’s love and her love of him.

More revisiting when Kiara spots the clouds that look like the shapes she and Kovu saw together. She also seems to think Kovu’s small enough to be the cause of the rustling in a tiny bush when it was really a frog. Yup, you may not be smart indeed, Kiara.

She finds herself in the burned out area of the Pride Lands (or maybe it’s more in a border area) and, when I first watched this, I was so confused on where she actually was because the colors and everything make this place look like it’s white sand dunes. The only indication that this is the same burned area is that there is one burned tree to her left.

Kovu appears behind her and they happily reunite, the song ending with Kovu also revisiting an earlier scene by pushing away some of the ash and showing a seedling, showing that he and Kiara have indeed grown better than the generation before.

They play around for a while, chasing a pair of butterflies, (Kovu’s actually the one who instigates the playing here, showing that sweet character development.) This is another sendup to earlier where cub!Kiara was chasing a butterfly, which is extremely cute. They eventually nuzzle near some water and find that their reflections merge together. Kovu points out that they are one, which gives Kiara a bit of an epiphany.

Kovu suggests running away together and…well;

Kovu: “And we can start a pride all our own.” You’re both really horny lions, ya know that?

I’m not looking too deeply into that line either. He’s got his ass up and waving it back and forth while saying that line in a sultry fashion.

Kiara, however, surprisingly, doesn’t want to run away. She knows they have a duty to end the strife between the Pride Lands and the Outlands because they’re their respective families and they can’t turn their back on their people. Kovu’s reluctant, but agrees with her.

Meanwhile, back in the rainy Pride Lands, buckle up buttercup because Zira’s had enough of plots and conspiring – she wants royal blood and she wants it now. It’s time for all-out war. You really gotta give her more credit as a villain here. She’s not cornered, she doesn’t have no other choice but to attack this way like many other villains of her caliber – she is just so pissed at Simba and the Pride Landers in general that she’s saying ‘screw it’ and calling for war in order to finally kill him.

This is also another reason why having Zira leading a bunch of lionesses is better than the hyenas because, again, we already know the lionesses of Pride Rock can beat them in a mass war with little issue. An army of well-trained lionesses is a much better match (Zira even mentioned earlier that they all have specific battle training.)

They do something kinda clever so you can tell the Pride Land lionesses from the Outlanders as they’re fighting. The Outlander lionesses wade through mud on the way over, so they’re covered in mud from the neck down.

It’s very foreboding that they show all of the animals fleeing the area in terror before the war even starts, but the only animals that remain are a bunch of vultures flying overhead – indicating death.

But of course Timon and Pumbaa ruin it a little by waving their asses at them and going ‘Na nana nana naaaaa!’

Zira: “It’s over Simba! I have dreamed of nothing else for years!”

Timon: “Boy, does she need a hobby.” *snort* Alright, that one was kinda funny.

Simba: “Last chance, Zira. Go home.”

Zira: “I am home!”

Love that line. Throwing his words right back in this face while also making it into a threat.

Zira: “Go for the eyes! Break his jaw! Hit him low! Get them! Do what you must!” Goddamn, Zira is vicious.

Actually, this whole battle is shockingly vicious for a Disney movie. They’re really not holding back here. It’s very intense. I mean, obviously, there’s no blood, but it’s about as violent as they’ve gotten.

Timon and Pumbaa flee the battle after one of the lionesses roars at them. When they’re cornered, we get a veiled fart joke because Timon pretends to use Pumbaa’s tail as a gun, implying he’ll make him fart at the lionesses if they come any further. It does work, and makes them run away in terror. I think this is just far enough for me to not be annoyed at another fart joke considering they didn’t actually make him fart. This entire battle would have been marred if they made him actually fart as a weapon.

Kiara and Kovu are rushing to the battleground. They run over the dam, which is currently starting to break apart due to the rain.

Simba’s being overrun, so Zira decides its her time to get in the ring. The instant she takes a swing at Simba, every other lion stops what they’re doing to watch this go down. They circle each other for a bit and are about to formally start the one-on-one when Kiara and Kovu interrupt.

And here’s where I have to basically halt the whole movie for a bit because I have a lot to say about the resolution to this battle.

Kiara tells Simba that they have to stop, and then we get this exchange.

Kiara: “A wise king once told me, “We are one.” I didn’t understand him then…Now I do.”

Simba: “But…they–”

Kiara: “Them? Us! Look at them. They ARE us. What differences do you see?”

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Sassy McSmartass here to tell you that there are actually visible differences between lionesses of the Pride Lands and those of the Outlands. The Pride Land lionesses are, for lack of a better term, fuller, have more rounded edges to them and have a slightly lighter/brighter color palette. The Outlanders have more washed out/grayish-tan colorings, darker circles around the eyes, are skinnier and have more jagged edges to them. They also typically look scruffier.

The differences in the male lions are way more obvious – Orange vs. Black manes, gold vs. brown fur. Scar, Kovu and Nuka are said to be based on the now extinct Barbary lions, which had black hair and were notoriously more violent than their cousins due to their higher levels of testosterone. (Barbary lions are from a lion subspecies called P.I. Leo or Panthera Leo Leo, whereas the main branch is Panthera Leo.)

Second of all, if this movie really is trying for some undertones of a message against racism/classism then…this isn’t really a good way to get that across. I get that this is technically saying that we’re all humans…or…I guess in this case, lions, but if you take her words at face value, it’s almost like she’s saying because they look similar that they’re the same, which is uh…kinda tone deaf.

Looking the same shouldn’t be a factor at all. That’s kinda the opposite of what you should be going for here.

Maybe, instead, Kiara could have said something akin to them all being lions and being equal, but then you kinda have to factor in the idea that…yeah, all LIONS are equal. But all of the power in the Pride Lands is explicitly on the lions’ shoulders. They’re the royalty of the Savannah. No other animal has any sort of power besides what is allotted by the food chain.

….And, ya know what, just to cover all of my bases, let’s talk about a sexism angle too. Because the Pride Lands very obviously work king by king. There needs to be a king to lead, even if there’s a queen. Mufasa ruled with Sarabi, but what did Sarabi get to do? Mufasa died, and Simba left, but Sarabi didn’t rule – Scar did. And when she was with Scar, she got smacked around and treated like a servant. Simba’s ruling with Nala, but what does she do?

Kiara is the first ever, as far as I can see, Pride Land princess who will become queen, but since she’s with Kovu and he’ll be king, does that mean her power won’t mean as much?

Now you may be saying “Twix, you’ve been reading a lot into stuff throughout this review, but don’t you think you’re going a bit overboard here?”

And to that I say “Yes, yes….yes, very much.” Thing is, the stuff that they’re seemingly talking about in regards to any -ism is something I feel I have to address because it’s very clear they’re trying to say something. If you don’t look into this at all, it’s a fine message about everyone being ‘one’ we’re all the same, we’re all equal, stop being idiots and fighting for no reason. Understand each other. Get along. Your differences are just surface level and are never the deciding factor in you as people. Unite, don’t separate. And that’s a very good message, but the way they dealt with this down to the details is just….sloppy. Like all of this -ismness was residual from a scrapped script, but they still kept it slightly because they liked the message.

In regards to any -ism they’re addressing, it’s, at best, confusing and, at worst, tone deaf and overly simplistic if you follow along with every step of the story.

Which brings me to my final point about this.

Kiara….that’s not what’s happening here.

Now’s an apt time to remind everyone that this movie is heavily based on Romeo and Juliet. But, before I go on, I am…..How should I put this?….Uhmm…

I’m an uncultured twit.

I barely know anything about Shakespearean works besides 1) What I’ve seen out and about in TV and movies, and 2) What I research when I need to do so – such as with this blog post specifically. So, if I miss something in the themes and meanings of Romeo and Juliet, feel free to correct my uncultured ass.

Anyhoo, in Romeo and Juliet, the audience is purposely left in the dark as to what caused the rift between the Montagues and the Capulets. The audience can’t analyze their feud or take sides because they don’t know the circumstances of it. It’s kinda implied that they themselves don’t remember what caused it. All they know is that they hate each other and that’s just the way it is. Kinda sheds a light on how stupid their feud really is and how tragic Romeo and Juliet’s situation was.

However, as I mentioned, this movie does not follow Romeo and Juliet all that closely – and one of those changed aspects is in the fact that the families have a clear reason for their rift.

I mentioned how we don’t know exactly what went down between TLK1 and 2 to lead to Zira and her compatriots being banished to the Outlands, but we can deduce at least what must’ve happened if you believe Simba is at least partially reasonable and not a dick who just jumped off Pride Rock immediately after his roar to tell Zira, her cubs and her friends to get the hell out of dodge just for having I ❤ Scar t-shirts on.

Even if the Kopa theory isn’t valid, and it probably isn’t, especially not in a post-Lion Guard world, I can bet anything that Zira either attempted to assassinate Simba/Nala or conspired to do so, with the help of her friends, earning them all a banishment. This is a woman so desperate to kill Simba that she groomed her son from cub to adult specifically for the purpose of killing Simba. There’s no way she doesn’t have a track record of attempting to or conspiring to kill Simba.

And after they were banished, the hatred of the Outsiders only got worse and worse, considering the bad conditions of their land. I wouldn’t be surprised if more assassination attempts were made in the meantime too.

But let’s just say I’m wrong about all that. They were just banished because Simba’s unreasonable or at least overreacted to a group of bitches who wished he was dead but didn’t do anything about it.

They now HAVE attempted to murder the king – and nearly succeeded! And they technically nearly got Kiara killed in that fire, too – not to mention all the lands that were destroyed and animals that were killed in that blaze, probably. Meanwhile, all Simba and the Pride Landers have done is ‘welcome’ Kovu to live with them and tell the clearly dangerous Outsiders to stay the hell out.

Is war the answer to anything? Of course not. But if someone’s attacking you, you have every right to defend yourself, especially if you’re the first line of defense for a land filled with other creatures who rely on you for protection.

Imagine if someone was attacking you with a knife and you fought back and someone got between the two of you and scolded YOU for fighting.

Now onto the second half of the resolution.

Zira: “Vitani, NOW!”

Vitani: “No, mother….Kiara’s right. Enough.” She doesn’t even know Kiara. She’s never exchanged dialogue with her. And the last time she talked about her was during the battle in which she told Nala in a very mocking tone;

Vitani: “Where’s your pretty daughter, Nala?”

Why is Vitani, Zira’s right-hand lioness and daughter, so easily swayed by this? I mean, maybe the stuff about Scar can easily be assuaged, she may or may not barely remember him, but she also blames them for Nuka’s death. Maybe a little line like “Nuka would still be alive if it weren’t for our hatred and vengeance.” would’ve helped a little here, delivered by either Kovu or Vitani.

Anyway, Kovu’s standing his ground against Zira, and now Vitani is standing up to her too, so Zira proclaims that they’re both going to die for it. She commands the other lionesses to attack, but they join the Pride Landers and refuse to fight too. I understand this one a little better because the other lionesses don’t decide to leave until they hear Zira telling her own children that she’ll kill them to achieve her ends, which is way more swaying. I, too, prefer to side with the people who don’t kill their children.

Simba tells Zira to stand down and let it go, but she refuses. Now completely alone, she decides to go ham and attack Simba herself. Kiara, however, intercepts the attack and they end up tumbling down the cliffside together. The dam upriver bursts, filling the canyon below with rushing waters filled with karma.

Kiara manages to get her footing, but Zira is hanging on for dear life. To her credit, Kiara tries to help her, even after Zira tries to claw at her paw, but Zira’s too stubborn to accept help, so she falls into the river and drowns. It’s rather poignant too, if you think about it. I mean, Nuka’s body has to be in that water now….

Kiara: “Daddy….I tried.” There’s something about this line that makes me think it’s meant to be a throwback to Nuka’s death, but for the life of me I can’t see the significance besides similar wording.

After Zira’s death, Simba admits he was wrong and welcomes Kovu as well as all of the Outland lionesses back to the pride.

Later, we get a Lion King wedding as Kovu and Kiara are wed on Pride Rock, surrounded by a bunch of the lionesses. Also, it’s insanely hard to tell if Vitani’s here. I THINK she’s the one sitting next to Kiara, but I can’t see her hair tuft, so it’s hard to tell. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t attend her brother’s wedding, but I honestly can’t discern her from the others.

After some cute as hell cuddles, they ascend Pride Rock and roar in celebration while all the animals down below cheer.

Mufasa’s spirit tells Simba “Well done, my son.” No pat on the back for Kiara, too? Or Kovu? They’re kinda the reason this all happened. Oh you’re not gonna say anything else? Could only get James Earl Jones in the studio for two lines? Okay.

With Mufasa’s spirit proclaiming “We are one.” the movie ends.

——————————–

And that was The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, the last Disquel to review for this series, what I truly believe to be the best Disquel and one of my favorite movies.

I’m not going to lie and say the movie doesn’t have its faults. I’ve written way too much about it to not go over as many as I thought were worth discussing, obviously, to say it doesn’t. Even when I was a kid I was bothered by the weird consistency issues between the two movies, which is quite a bit of the reason why this review so far has been insanely long. When you’ve watched a movie as many times as I have, and it means as much to you as this one does to me and you overthink things to a concerning level like I do, it’s hard not to get it all out when you finally have the chance.

However, I do think this movie has plenty of quality to weather its faults without affecting the outcome that much. I still enjoy this movie as much now as I did when I was a kid, and I think it’s a very deserving sequel to the original Lion King. I just wish more of the interim between movies had been fleshed out and Kiara were a more interesting character. Everything else is more or less awesome, particularly the plot with Kovu and Zira as a villain.

I keep imagining how incredible this movie might have been if they aimed for a theatrical release. Slightly longer runtime, even better animation, more elbow room for everything – It could have been even better. But I thank my lucky stars that The Lion King was one of the first to get the Disquel treatment because GEEEEEZZZ it’s mostly downhill from here. It’s amazing how we went from this to stuff like Hunchback 2, Fox and the Hound 2 and Mulan 2….

The voice acting is top notch, even if Neve Campbell as Kiara was kinda weak. Like I mentioned, I adored the performance of the late Suzanne Pleshette as Zira. She absolutely killed it. I also think Jason Marsden did a great job as Kovu. They also managed to get everyone else back from the original movie, barring two people.

Scar’s brief cameo was covered by Jim Cummings, who voiced him briefly in ‘Be Prepared’ in the original movie (he does a damn good job emulating Jeremy Irons) and Sarabi didn’t return at all because her voice actress, Madge Sinclair, died in 1995, just a year after the first Lion King movie. There is speculation that she is there in dialogue-free shots in the background, especially when Kiara goes on her first hunt, but I think that’s a stretch. I feel more comfortable saying Sarabi passed away with Madge.

The music is hands down the best you’ll find in the Disquels. People still reference and play several of the songs to this day.

The animation, while not being nearly to the original’s standards, is still extremely good for direct-to-VHS. It definitely could have gotten a theatrical release with no problem. Really, the only art and animation issues are when the characters are seen from far away, because they lose many features and become blobby. No real issues beyond that, though.

I highly recommend anyone see this movie. Even if you’re not a big Lion King fan, it’s still a good movie with emotional moments, intense action, an awesome villain and a sweet romance.

As for Dissecting the Disquels, sunset may be here, but I still have a couple things left to do before we move on to the Disquel spin-off TV series and even, yes, we’re going there, the Disney live-action reboots (I’ve been reading/watching a lot about their latest victim, Mulan, recently…..Someone hold me….) so stay tuned!

Recommended Audience: Disney+ gives it a G, but there are some darker themes here like a lot of mentions of murder, two counts of accidental death, child abuse, violence. Maybe 6 or 7+?

UPDATE 9/29/20: So quick update on TLK, they literally just announced a day after I posted this that they’ll be making a sequel to the live-action Lion King movie……but it won’t be a live-action version of TLK2 – instead, it will focus on Mufasa’s origins and be a prequel, while also somehow expanding on the main story even though he’s dead for most of the main movie? What? Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved as all hell they won’t be doing a live-action TLK2, they’re ruining enough as it is, but I’m also getting dreadful feelings because now they’re making unnecessary prequels, which has so much Disquel vibes it’s not even funny. What the hell are they doing?


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Dissecting the Disquels: The Lion King 2 – Simba’s Pride (Part 1: The In-Depth Analysis)

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Simba has become a great king in the Pride Lands, and now he’s welcoming his first child, Kiara, into the world. While Simba has become a bit of an overprotective stick-in-the-mud and greatly values tradition and the kingdom above all else, looking forward to the day when his daughter supersedes him and becomes queen, Kiara is uncertain about her future and just wants to be herself.

When she grows up, she falls in love with a lion from the Outlands named Kovu, who has been trained his whole life to get close to Kiara in order to get in good with the royal family and kill Simba. His mother is Zira, leader of the Outlander lionesses who have previously pledged loyalty to Scar and have been banished to the desolate wasteland outside of the Pride Lands because of it. But when Kovu starts legitimately falling in love with Kiara, their loyalty to both of their lands and their families will be tested. Can love end the feuding once and for all?

Breakdown: Here we go, it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally at the last movie to cover for Dissecting the Disquels – The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride.

I saved this one for last because it means a lot to me. I watched it right when it first came out, and it was a Disquel based on one of my all-time favorite movies. I watched it so many times when I was a kid that I was, not kidding, reciting entire scenes in my head line by line when I would pause the video and anticipate what was coming up next while rewatching for this review. Not to mention that it’s one of the few Disquels that actually manages to hold its quality somewhat close-ish to the original product. Obviously, since most of these movies were all direct-to-VHS/DVD, they can’t really get within the ballpark of the quality of the movies they were based on, but some of them gave it the ol’ college try with what they had, and this one is no exception.

I had a lot to say about this movie, and it’s for a positive reason for a change! That’s why, to celebrate the end of Dissecting the Disquels, for the first time ever, I’ve actually decided to make this a two part review – one that goes in-depth into the main facets of the movie and another that’s in my step-by-step style where I go through the entire movie scene by scene.

To put it into perspective, this is technically a rewrite. My other draft had 14 pages worth of material and I wasn’t anywhere near done. I had spent so much time analyzing and talking about other stuff, that when I got to the step-by-step part, I knew it’d be way too much for one post, so I split it into two.

Is it overkill? Probably. But I am crazy. You people signed up for this. Now you must pay.

What could I possibly blather on about for *checks final total page tally* 34 pages? Let’s find out in part one of my final Dissecting the Disquel entry – The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride.

Prologue

Mmmmbackground! The Lion King 2 is, I believe, the first ever Disquel I watched (I honestly don’t remember if it was this or Aladdin 2), which makes sense because it’s one of the first to ever be made. I absolutely adored The Lion King (It’s still one of my favorite movies) I watched the original so many times that my VHS tape wore out. Seeing a sequel come out really got me excited. I even nearly bought a Kovu doll I saw in a store, but I didn’t have enough money. 😦

As the years went on and I watched more Disquels, I was increasingly disappointed that none of them really reached the level TLK2 was on – far from it in many cases. Eventually, I just stopped watching them and became one of millions who rolled my eyes whenever they would crop up. However, TLK2 kept reminding me that the Disquels can be good, and I think, in some ways, keeping that in mind allowed me to more easily go through this entire review series more easily. If TLK2 can be good, then there has to be some good nuggets to find within the mess, and yeah I found those nuggets, even if I had to trudge through a lot of crap and there were only, like, three of four of them.

Rewatching the movie again for this review gave me a lot of nostalgia, but that’s not to say I had my nostalgia goggles on that tightly. Maybe I popped a lens out. We’ll see.

Simba’s Son/Daughter?

One of the first things you’ll notice about this film, especially if you’re a fan of the original movie, is that the opening sequence has a key difference that raises quite a few questions. Namely….who is this kid? This isn’t the same cub from the end of The Lion King. That lion was a male. It had gold fur, not tan – it was a male. Even if color didn’t indicate gender here, it still would not be Kiara because she’s tan and that cub was gold. In addition, the audio description for the first Lion King movie on Disney+ identifies the cub as a prince, and the audio book version, which was released before and re-released after the sequel was made, indicates that it’s Simba’s son.

Granted, it’s not like they had set up for a sequel when the first one was made, and I appreciate them wanting a female lead, but that doesn’t change the fact that it makes a massive continuity error, even with entries made after the sequel came to be.

Or does it?

….Yes.

Well, kinda. Maybe.

The Kopa Theory

This theory surmises that the cub at the end of the first Lion King movie was actually Kopa, the son of Simba from the Lion King book series – The Lion King: Six New Adventures. When this theory first arose, it was very questionable whether Kopa was actually canon in the movie series, even if his existence does answer several questions.

If Kopa does exist in the movie series, then the theory comes into place. The reason Zira and the other Outlander lionesses were banished was really because they plotted and succeeded in murdering Kopa. Perhaps this plan was an effort to ensure Simba would have no successor. It’s much easier to kill a cub than it is to kill the king of the Pride Lands. This would also account for why Simba is so crazy overprotective of Kiara to the point where he won’t let her go anywhere without an escort. (Although, admittedly, you’d think Nala would have similar reservations if this were true.)

However, at the end of the day, it’s mostly just fanon because neither Kopa nor anything indicating such an event is even hinted at in the sequel. It’s just a fan explanation that makes a lot of sense.

The writers and animators who worked on TLK2 reportedly had no idea that Kopa even existed, and that’s actually understandable. The books’ origins are really confusing. They were based on the movies, but they also weren’t made by Disney (only approved by Disney). However, the books were also written before the movie had even finished production. The author, Alex Simmons, even stated that he had no idea if Nala and Simba would have a cub at the end of the movie. So….I dunno if Alex Simmons had just seen a bunch of trailers for the movie and made books based on them or something? How do you not work at Disney, have enough information on an in-production movie to make books based on it but also get approval from Disney to sell what is basically Lion King fanfiction before the movie even exists? It’s really confusing.

Kovu’s Origins

Kovu’s family tree is a bit of a mystery. There aren’t any male lions in the Outlands besides Kovu and Nuka, both of which are Zira’s kids. Kovu is not Scar’s son, but Nuka looks down on him like he thinks he’s superior – as if he is Scar’s son. So that kinda brings a lot into question. Who is the father of Nuka, Vitani and Kovu? Do they even have the same father?

It should be mentioned that, originally, it was intended for Kovu to be Scar’s son, but then they remembered, whoops, Scar was Simba’s uncle and they intended on having Kovu and Kiara in a relationship. They didn’t want the tagline of the movie to change to The Lion King 2: All in the Family so they opted to have Kovu born of an unknown male lion.

This also makes Kovu’s age a bit off. If he was hand-picked by Scar, he had to have been born before Simba returned to Pride Rock, right? Doesn’t make much sense to choose an unborn child as your heir without knowing if it’s male. (I doubt Scar would select a female successor. He’s pretty sexist. He refuses to help find food for his starving people because it’s the lioness’s job to hunt, and he treats Sarabi like another servant when she’s still, technically, the queen.) And that means Nuka and Vitani definitely existed. So, again, where the hell were they?

Zira explains that Kovu was the last born before Simba exiled them, but then Simba acts as if he’s never seen Kovu before, which I guess is possible but it’s still weird.

Kovu and Kiara’s Relationship

Since this is a romance movie at its core, it obviously needs to have a strong main relationship to carry it, and Kovu and Kiara definitely pull it off. Not only do they have great chemistry and bounce off of each other very well, but they do complement each other. Kovu provides Kiara with a sense of adventure and actually listens to and respects her desires, and Kiara brings out the lighter side of Kovu and introduces him to true fun.

They also have many very cute scenes together from the instant they meet.

Them falling in love felt very natural, and they managed to pull it off extremely well while Kovu was still trying to keep up his charade. You can easily tell when he’s putting on the act to impress her and when he’s genuinely connecting with her. Admittedly, it is a tiny bit rushed, but that’s par for the course with Disney, especially considering the lowered run time.

Also, side note, but Simba and Nala are similarly adorable in this movie. They’ve become great parents, but they also have a very believable and sweet marriage. When Nala pinned him at the start of the movie, my heart fluttered with emotions from the first movie. They’re both amazing couples.

Disquelisms?

I’m not sure if it’s fair to analyze one of the first Disquels for Disquelisms, but let’s be fair here since you can find a couple.

First of all, this movie started the trend of having the children of the original movie’s main characters take the helm.

There’s a slight air of ‘the first movie in reverse/backwards’ happening here, even though, honestly, it’s not really that…..well….Okay it is. Well, except it’s not.

Simba is very Mufasa-esque in this movie. He’s a very proud king, he’s very stern, he doesn’t seem to withhold any of the Hakuna Matata-ness his surrogate fathers bestowed upon him. He’s very much into the old teachings of the previous kings and the circle of life etc. etc. etc.

Kiara, however, is a very free spirit. She doesn’t like being babysat by Timon and Pumbaa, like how Simba didn’t like being babysat by Zazu, and she just wants to do her own thing.

Also, Simba was jonesing to take his place as king, but Kiara has serious doubts about becoming queen.

There are also some things here and there throughout the movie that reflect the original, but I’ll discuss those in part two. They aren’t really stark enough to say they’re mirrors or redoing the original movie in reverse or anything. This is an entirely different story.

Speaking of redoing the original movie, though…

The Doppleganger Soundtrack?

Some people criticize the soundtrack for TLK2, claiming it’s filled with songs that are just the original movie’s songs with a different flair to them. I can see where this criticism is coming from, because a lot of the songs do fit certain roles that the original songs filled, but I think it’s unfair to write it off like that. I, personally, love the soundtrack for the movie and think that the tracks stand perfectly well on their own merits. But let’s address each song to see if there is any true validity to this claim.

He Lives in You

Our first song of the movie is ‘He Lives in You’ or what would be the equivalent to ‘Circle of Life.’ It’s the opening to the movie, it’s happening over the sunrise, and the animals are all coming together for the presentation ceremony. It’s the song that accompanies the introduction to our main character, a newborn cub and prince/ess of the Pride Lands. At face value, it seems like the criticism fits fine here, but this song is very purposeful on its own.

The ending scene of the first movie was nearly a beat-by-beat recreation of the first scene of the movie just with Simba and Nala taking the place of Mufasa and Sarabi, and that was done in order to create the symbolism of the circle of life. The movie started with Mufasa welcoming Simba into the world, Mufasa died, then the movie ends with Simba welcoming his own child into the world.

If we’re starting the sequel off immediately from the last movie, then it makes perfect sense that the opening song would have the same vibe as the original.

‘He Lives in You’ is probably the closest the movie gets to an actual song reincorporation because some of the lyrics from ‘Circle of Life’, namely ‘Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala’ (I really hope I was accurate on that…) and, well, ‘circle of life’, are also part of the chorus for ‘He Lives in You.’

‘He Lives in You’ heavily focuses on the running theme of the spirits of those that are gone living on in the characters, whether good or bad. Simba thrives on the memory of his father’s spirit and even seeks him for advice when trying to accept Kovu and his budding relationship with Kiara. When she makes her plea to him to stop the fighting, he looks up to the opening sky briefly as if Mufasa is looking down on him.

While it is much more subtle with Kiara, her grandfather’s spirit is also reflective in her. She chooses to go back home and help their families stop warring instead of running off and starting a family with Kovu because she knows that’s what’s right. She chooses responsibility over her own desires and proves that, whether or not she does actually become queen in the end, she has what it takes to be a great and fair queen.

On the opposite side of the coin, Zira is very obviously trying to carry on Scar’s legacy by getting revenge on Simba and taking back the Pride Lands. Nuka channels Scar, too, believe it not, but only in his pettiness and maliciousness. It’s never outright stated who Nuka’s father is, but he believes he’s more deserving of the role of Scar’s successor than Kovu is and uses the fact that Kovu is not Scar’s child to support this. Nuka is jealous of Kovu because he seemingly has a birthright by Scar personally selecting him to be next in line instead of him, who may or may not have the literal birthright to such a position. Scar was similarly jealous of Mufasa being chosen to be king, even though Scar was the younger sibling, because he simply believed himself to be the better lion.

The aspect of Scar’s spirit living on in Kovu is a heavy theme in the movie. He’s not only being specifically bred to become a new Scar, so to speak, but they even go so far as to actually scar his face in the same spot Scar had his. During the song ‘One of Us’ he sees Scar’s reflection in the water, which is a rather brilliant callback to Simba seeing Mufasa’s face in the water in the first movie.

Unlike Simba, who wants desperately to be like his father and live up to his legacy, Kovu wants to be anything but that. The only time in which he is aspiring to be New!Scar is when he’s brainwashed by Zira. In the end, Zira winds up being the most fitting spiritual successor to Scar, and like Scar, she ended up causing her own undoing because she couldn’t let go of her hatred and selfishness.

‘He Lives in You’ is a great song and a beautiful opener to the movie. It also stands as being a very deserving followup to ‘Circle of Life.’

We Are One

The next song is ‘We Are One’ which I think is suggested to mirror ‘Just Can’t Wait to be King,’ but winds up being the closer to ‘Circle of Life’ in regards to lyrics. Simba is trying to convince Kiara that being a princess and later taking her place as queen is her destiny. It’s in her blood. It’s part of the grand scheme of things. The song is really framed like, as the title implies, everything is connected and supports each other. Even the spirits of those who are gone help us through life, and their family is also there to guide and support her.

The reason this isn’t so much a mirror of ‘Just Can’t Wait to be King’ is that 90% of this song is Simba singing, not Kiara. ‘Just Can’t Wait to be King’ was Simba’s Disney-typical ‘I want’ song, but ‘We Are One’ is mostly channeling ‘Circle of Life.’

When Kiara finally gets her turn to sing, it basically turns into an entirely different song. The melody is much softer and somber, in contrast to the grand and prideful version Simba was singing, and it’s literally now an ‘I Want’ song since Kiara is so conflicted. Her only lines come out to,

“If there’s so much I must be, can I still just be me the way I am? Can I trust in my own heart, or am I just one part of some big plan?”

She wants to be able to be free and do what she wants, but everyone, especially her father, is pressuring her into a role she’s not even sure she wants since it’s so demanding and restricting.

Funnily, and sadly, enough, the next interlude to Simba really highlights that he’s simply not listening to his daughter’s desires and just wants her to accept her role because it juts right from her lines to talking about ‘We Are One’ again. He is basically also saying ‘You have your entire life ahead of you, and as you mature, you’ll learn to understand why things are the way they are and why you have to be this.’ but it’s clear at the end of the scene that, while Kiara is open to trying to understand, she still just doesn’t get it.

It’s a little interesting, because it’s the exact opposite of ‘Just Can’t Wait to be King,’ in a way. Simba believed being king would literally give him the power and freedom to do whatever he wanted, since he felt so restricted by his parents. Kiara feels the exact opposite, however, believing it will severely impede on her freedom even more.

If you think about it, even though both of them were being understandably immature about it, Kiara is taking the more realistic view on the situation. Being queen does come with an insane amount of responsibilities. Even though you have a lot of power, you must use it wisely, and you must take the needs of every animal in the Pride Lands into consideration when you make decisions. Simba was under the assumption that being king would be a non-stop party and give him the freedom to do whatever he wants, but such an attitude in real life would probably lead to a similar outcome as Scar.

Another interesting aspect of this song is that it reprises in the very ending of the movie instead of ‘He Lives in You.’ In the original movie, as I mentioned, ‘Circle of Life’ plays again at the end to loop the story back around. However, they chose ‘We Are One’ for the ending here. It does make more sense, however, because the Outlands and the Pride Lands were finally united and Kovu and Kiara were able to be wed. It does indeed show that they are all one, but it also proves that that doesn’t mean we’re destined for this that or the other thing.

While I like ‘Just Can’t Wait to be King’ better than this song, ‘We Are One’ certainly has more emotional impact, especially as an ‘I Want’ song. It has a bright air of hopefulness and togetherness while still reflecting Kiara’s inner conflict. It’s quite beautiful, but I just wish Kiara had more of a presence in it. It feels like she was meant to have her own version of this song, like musicals sometimes do – keeping the melody but changing the message to show connection but also contrast – but they opted not to at the last second.

Also, this line comes after the song is over, but the music is still running, so I’m counting it.

Simba: “As long as you live here, it’s who you are.” That line has a lot of layers to it. First of all, you’re pretty much encouraging her to run away. If she’s not here, it’s no longer who she is. No longer her problem.

Secondly, why does where she live suddenly come into the equation? So, it’s not part of her blood or destiny anymore if she just leaves the Pride Lands? Kinda makes the circle of life thing seem less grandiose.

I feel like that line was originally “As long as you live, it’s who you are.” but that doesn’t make sense either because spirits are canon in this series.

The little bluebird flying off at the end is also a little interesting. It was driven back to its nest by its mother earlier because she didn’t want her chick to try flying off yet, but by the end of the song it’s flying away into the sunset on its own. Kiara’s expression is happy, but also kinda sullen. The bluebird had to wait (about 53 seconds…) to fly off on its own, but once it was able to, it had the freedom to go wherever it wanted. Kiara, on the other hand, will be bound even when she reaches adulthood.

My Lullaby

My favorite villain song ever is ‘Be Prepared,’ so this movie really had to deliver on its villain song to kmake me really think this was a good followup to the first movie, and it definitely delivered in my book. ‘My Lullaby’ is Zira singing Kovu to sleep about how she’s going to shape him into the perfect successor to Scar, get her revenge on Simba for their exile and avenge Scar’s death. The lyrics actually get a bit darker than ‘Be Prepared,’ as she says stuff like “The sound of Simba’s dying gasp, his daughter squealing in my grasp, his lioness’s mournful cry – that’s my lullaby.”

Its only major misstep is one lyric where she says “And a lust for being bad.” I just thought that was cheesy. Not only is the wording lame, but if you believe you’re justified in what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t wish him to have a desire for being bad. In your world view, you’re the good guys….

Overall, though, it’s a really awesome and intense song. It segues nicely from a calm and gentle, well, lullaby, to a malicious villain song to bringing the oomph in the finale. It does pretty much mirror the purpose of ‘Be Prepared’ since it was literally Scar telling his hyenas to be be prepared for killing the king and overthrowing the kingdom, and this is Zira pretty much saying the exact same thing to her fellow lionesses. However, it’s by no means the same song nor is it anywhere close to being just Diet Be Prepared..

I like how they made such a twisted ‘lullaby’ because, remember, she is literally singing Kovu to sleep here. She is making his lullaby about killing Simba, torturing Kiara, watching Nala mourn Simba and listening to a ‘symphony of death’ while they usurp the entire royal family and invade the Pride Lands. It’s also interesting how Zira keeps saying he’ll be king or he’s a prince during the sequence. It adds more of a parallel between Kiara and Kovu – Kovu’s not just being preened as Scar’s successor; he must become the new king. It’s not his main focus, that would be killing Simba, but presumably, once he’s done that, he’ll take over as king.

Final note, but this song break is just gorgeous in the colors from start to finish. From Zira’s yellow eyes piercing through the darkness at the start to the lionesses jumping over the light to the blood red sky at the end, it’s really cool.

Upendi

The next song is ‘Upendi,’ and it’s seemingly taking the role of ‘Hakuna Matata,’ but mostly only in two realms – The title is a Swahili word (meaning ‘love’) and it’s largely a fun dancing song. However, whereas ‘Hakuna Matata’ was meant to help introduce Simba to Timon and Pumbaa’s way of life and get him to forget his worries and live a carefree lifestyle, ‘Upendi’ is pretty much just celebrating Kiara and Kovu’s budding romance. Rafiki is literally playing matchmaker to a pairing that was very very likely to happen (and pretty much was already happening) anyway. In addition, the lyrics are literally just talking about love and how great it is. It doesn’t have much substance to it or hidden symbolism – it’s just a simple song about love. In that regard, it’s, in my opinion, the weakest song in the set.

It’s a very fun song and easy to sing along with, but it’s not as strong as the other songs in the set. It just doesn’t have much of a purpose and nothing memorable happens in the animation either, except one cheesy segment where Kovu and Kiara parachute on pink leaves that take the shape of hearts.

One of Us

The first and only song that really doesn’t have a suggested mirror in the first movie is ‘One of Us,’ and it’s a spectacular song. After Simba nearly dies in an ambush set by Zira, Simba throws away any trust that was starting to build with Kovu and marks him once and for all as a traitor before banishing him for good. Thing is, Kovu wasn’t a traitor. He had decided earlier that he didn’t want to follow his mother’s lead anymore and was trying to build up the courage to confess to Kiara and Simba about what was going on, but Zira intervened and specifically called him out as a conspirator because she found out he was legitimately falling in with Kiara and Simba.

This song is literally the entire Pride Lands singing about how they were deceived and he was really evil the whole time, as they feared. They also sing the lyrics “Evil as plain as the scar on his face” which has dual meanings – the first being that his supposed evil was as obvious as the scar on his face, and the second being that he now looks like Scar.

It also really highlights how divided the prides really are, and how hypocritical Simba is being. The songs ‘We Are One’ and ‘One of Us’ directly contradict each other. How can we all be one yet there’s a separate ‘us’ that needs to be cordoned off from others?

Interesting note, on the VHS, they make the mistake in the closed captioning to attribute the line ‘He is not one of us’ sung by a woman at the very end to Kiara, and that confused me for years. There’s no way Kiara would be singing any of this song, let alone specifically saying that to Kovu. This is proven as such both before the song starts and after the song is over when she pleads with Simba to listen to what Kovu has to say, but he refuses.

One of the reasons this song hits so well isn’t just because it has great lyrics and instrumentals, but because you really feel bad for poor Kovu. He is a changed lion, but now he’s being shunned by both the Outsiders and the Pride Landers. In the time frame of just a few hours, he lost his original pride, his new pride, his brother, his girlfriend, his family and his home. It really stings when he finally ducks his head and walks off.

‘One of Us’ is a very powerful song, and I absolutely adore it. I listen to it fairly often on Spotify, and it’s my favorite song on the soundtrack. It has a soft opening but slowly builds up as Kovu gets increasingly upset and runs away from the Pride Lands. That final closeup shot of Simba’s face right as it quickly zooms way back to Kovu and the music swells is just awesome. When Kovu looks back one last time and finally starts slowly walking away, the song slows back down and becomes somber because now Kovu has accepted his banishment and both Kovu and Kiara are mourning the losses of each other. It’s very well-executed.

Love Will Find a Way

Finally, this being a movie largely about the romantic development between Kovu and Kiara, being an off-shoot of Romeo and Juliet, you obviously have to have a strong love song between the two leads. ‘Love Will Find A Way’ is obviously meant to fill the role of ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ They’re even set up kinda similarly with it being a duet (which is common for love songs, anyway, but still) and the guy briefly singing about how he is/was afraid, which made him do something that was hurting their significant other. But, again, the two songs serve different purposes.

In the original movie, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ was meant to highlight how Simba and Nala, once best friends in childhood who were disgusted at the idea of becoming married when they grew up, are now developing romantic feelings for each other now that they’ve reunited in adulthood. They first rekindle their friendship by playing around in the water and then the grass, but then Nala licks Simba on the cheek and they both realize how much they mean to each other.

‘Love Will Find A Way’ builds upon a romance that was broken by external forces. Kiara and Kovu both know they love each other at this point – they’ve not only kissed and cuddled each other a few times already, but they’ve also expressed out loud that they love each other. However, Kovu’s banishment and Simba putting firm restrictions on Kiara’s comings and goings put a massive divide between the two of them.

This song has Kiara singing about how she longs for a perfect world with Kovu. They create their own little magical world when they’re together, but their families keep driving them apart. However, she knows love will find a way for her to reunite with Kovu and find happiness.

Kovu’s verse puts a spotlight on how he was afraid to tell her what was going on with Zira, which drove a bit of a wedge between them and somewhat contributed to his banishment, but he was foolish because he now realizes love will always find a way to conquer such things. And, again, a perfect world is brought up in his verse as he sings “There’s a perfect world shining in your eyes.”

When they’re finally singing together, they both express that they wish their respective families would be able to see how much they love each other and understand how they feel. But no matter if they do or not, they now have each other and they’ll get through anything together. This new beginning is also reflected when Kovu reveals a budding plant under the ash near the end of the song, as Simba had done earlier when talking to Kovu about how things can revive and flourish if you give them a chance.

I actually like this song little more than ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ I know that probably seems like an iffy thing to say, but even though I truly love ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,’ I can’t help but get more invested in ‘Love will Find a Way.’

It’s true that both Simba and Nala sing their respective feelings during their song, too. Simba expresses that he’s scared to tell her the truth about what happened to Mufasa, worried that she’d turn her back on him. And Nala wonders what’s bothering Simba and why he’s acting so different from the Simba she knew back when they were cubs.

However, it’s a bit jumbled as a song in the actual movie. We move from Timon and Pumbaa singing it to Simba and Nala singing and then back to Timon and Pumbaa. They don’t do a bad job in the song, but they try to merge a budding romance song with a song about two buddies losing their third buddy, which kinda makes it lose a bit of it’s emotional impact. Timon and Pumbaa definitely needed their time to process the possibility of losing Simba – afterall, at this point, he’s basically their surrogate son – but it’s mostly there to add some comedic value to their otherwise very romantic song.

‘Love Will Find a Way’ is sung entirely by Kiara and Kovu at a very tense and emotional part of the movie. Her verse and his verse move into each other while only changing tone slightly. Kiara’s verse is lower pitched because she hasn’t found Kovu yet. Kovu’s is slightly higher because he’s coming to the realization that he needs to return to Kiara because he loves her, and their love will get them through this. When they both see each other, reunite and start singing together, the music swells and it’s amazing, and they play together and it’s sweet. You really feel a strong impact of them reuniting.

Simba and Nala also reunite after years of being apart, but it happens earlier and not during any song. In addition, that reunion was more like two best friends who haven’t seen each other in years, because that’s what’s going on, and the song is more about them viewing the other in a different and more romantic light.

In ‘Love Will Find a Way,’ the end of the song goes back to soft and tender as Kovu and Kiara just enjoy each other’s company and cuddle.

I’m not really saying one song is objectively better than the other. I know very little about the intricacies of music composition and theory to claim such a thing, but I just feel like ‘Love Will Find a Way’ clicks just a tiny bit better with me as a love song. I still adore ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?,’ but I can’t deny my feelings on this matter.

Character Analyses

I’ve already touched upon Simba quite a bit, but let’s delve further into how his character has changed from the first movie to now.

Simba has greatly matured into both a good father and a strong king, but he’s still so haunted by his past that it makes gives him a hair trigger temper and makes him very over protective of Kiara. He’s wants desperately to follow in his father’s pawprints and respect the legacy that he left behind, but he goes overboard with it.

…..Granted, being fair, he is somewhat right to be as paranoid and protective as he is. Zira and the other Outsiders are very much intent on killing him and taking over the Pride Lands, but in regards to respecting what Kiara wants or even entertaining the idea that she might not want to be queen, he doesn’t listen at all, which I noted in the section on ‘We Are One.’

Funny thing is, the first movie basically built Simba’s character on this concept. It was his destiny to be king. He had to accept it or else Scar’s reign would cause the certain death of everyone in the Pride Lands. Mufasa’s spirit even re-instilled this in him when Simba was having his internal crisis.

Mufasa: “Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king.”

Likewise, as I said, when Simba was a cub, he was excited about becoming king someday. He just didn’t want to do it anymore because he felt such immense guilt over what happened to Mufasa, and he was scared what everyone would think of him.

I do think the entire concept of destiny is really stupid, especially from a storytelling standpoint. Sometimes, like in The Lion King, they can pull it off pretty well, but otherwise it’s such a problematic concept.

The reason it was pulled off well in The Lion King was because, despite the fact that it was Simba’s ‘destiny’ to take his place as king, he had to want to do it. He had to want to face his fears and fight for his family and pride. Rafiki literally beat this into Simba’s head.

Simba: *gets smacked by Rafiki’s staff* “OW! Geez, what was that for?!”

Rafiki: “It doesn’t matter! It’s in the past!”

Simba: “Yeah, but it still hurts.”

Rafiki: “Ah, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it!” *takes another swing, but Simba dodges* “AH! You see?!”

Putting the past behind us is another theme of the sequel. Several characters say a line akin to “it’s time to put the past behind us.” Zira refused, so she couldn’t grow as a character and that lead to her downfall.

Simba basically forgot this lesson at the start of the movie and had to re-learn it. He had moved beyond his past enough to become king, but he clearly hadn’t moved past it enough to accept anyone who had any bonds to Scar.

With Kiara, she’s not afraid of becoming queen, she just doesn’t want the job. There’s nothing really at stake if she doesn’t take the role, as long as Simba and Nala get back to baby-makin’ anyway. And considering they’ll later have a canonical son, I think they’re doing fine in that department.

Simba is just not listening to her own desires because, eh, that’s the way things are and have to be. Destiny worked for me. It’ll work for you. You’re just a kid now. Adults know what’s up.

In a lot of ways, Simba here reminds me a lot of King Triton. He’s simultaneously very loving and over-protective of his daughter while also not seeming to give a crap about what she wants. However, in the prequel, we see that he has good reason to fear or hate humans and needs his daughter’s help to get him to learn to trust again. Likewise, here, we can deduce enough to realize he has at least a pretty good reason to distrust the Outsiders.

But Simba’s not really the main character here – Kovu and Kiara are. Technically, Kiara is supposed to be the main character….buuuutttt….

……This was way more Kovu’s movie than Kiara’s. I couldn’t help but notice it as a kid, and I definitely noticed on the rewatch – Kovu is the main character. It’s not even that much of a ‘shared’ main character role. He is the main character.

Kovu goes from a cocky yet kindhearted kid to a brainwashed soldier who slowly escapes his mother’s influence and the destiny set before him so he can follow his heart and find a new path. He defies his mother, leaves his family behind and even risks severe punishment to face Simba after the ambush because he truly loved Kiara and he wanted to be a better person with a good life. When he was banished, he didn’t return to his mother or seek revenge, he simply took his licks and went off alone.

When you think about it, it’s really Kovu’s story that is Simba’s story in reverse, or more to the point the opposite of his. Whereas Simba was building up to embrace his destiny and his one true role as king, Kovu did everything in his power to break free of the ‘destiny’ that was set upon him.

And what of Kiara? She starts off the story as a frustrated princess who wants to have freedom to a grown up frustrated princess who wants to have freedom who falls in love and her biggest conflict is fighting for her love, which…she doesn’t even technically do. When Kovu is banished, she just lashes out at her father and runs away behind his back to find Kovu.

Her biggest moments are convincing Kovu to return to the Pride Lands to stop the fighting, and then she talks her father down, which is alright as a character arc as she’s found her voice and she’s finally getting her father to listen to her for good reasons, but she as a character really hasn’t changed. She understands ‘we are one’ now, but that moment isn’t nearly as impacting as it should be.

She also saves her father and tries to save Zira (and ultimately fails) but that moment wasn’t nearly as important or grand as it could’ve been. Zira definitely wouldn’t have succeeded in killing Simba at the end, considering every other lioness would have backed him up and saved him once she pounced (and it’s not like she can achieve a one shot kill. Even Scar couldn’t do that.) and while it is noble and kind to try and save Zira, that just serves to prove that she’s a nice and forgiving person.

In the start of the movie, Kiara says “I’m not just princess, ya know? That’s only half of who I am.” And Pumbaa replies “Oh, uh, who’s the other half?” And she has no answer. At the end of the movie, you’d expect her to have an answer….but she really doesn’t.

Throughout the film, the aspect of having another half comes up a few times, especially when they get around to the song ‘Love Will Find A Way’ where they eventually show that Kovu and Kiara’s reflections in the water make one IE We are one. But that doesn’t answer the question of Kiara’s character….unless they’re blatantly saying that the other half of her is Kovu, which is rather eye-rolling. Yes, we typically call our significant others our ‘other’ or even ‘better’ halves, but that wasn’t the question being posited. Who is Kiara’s other half, as a person? Not someone else, in a soul mate way – who is she as a person on her own merits? What does she even really want? What does she want to become?

Again, I can easily answer this question for Kovu. He’s a character who desperately wants to do the right thing, but he also wants to make his mother happy and his people/Scar proud. After he reunites with Kiara, he wants to be a good person, live a good life with her and have fun. He realizes at that point that Scar was the evil one and he had been lied to his whole life, making him not want to return to the Outlands, but also not really hating his family for it.

He’s constantly at odds with his role and his desires, but despite his act of being a slick Scar Jr. he’s obviously very sympathetic and open to bettering himself and becoming a good person. Most importantly, we can see this even when Kiara is not around. His character is not fully driven by her. When he’s simply having a talk with Simba, you can see that he’s actively listening and it’s not his act that’s taking over. Simba is speaking to him, truly, even if he doesn’t realize it, and Kovu becomes enthralled with the idea of being given a second chance.

Kiara starts out not wanting to be queen, which isn’t much of a plot point as she gets older. She’s more about wanting independence and trust from her father at that point, but it’s heavily implied that she accepted her role as princess/future queen in the end. And in The Lion Guard, apparently, it ends with it being confirmed that she does become queen. However, is she accepting this role because she truly wants it now or because it’s her ‘destiny’ and now that she understands ‘we are one’ she appreciates the role more? Because I’ve already explained how little I care about destiny in regards to character arcs.

So she’s now not even a frustrated princess who wants freedom. She’s a happier princess who has accepted her role but it’s okay because she has her true love now. That’s not very compelling.

It’s weird when I can connect more with Vitani and even Nuka more than Kiara.

In a lot of ways, Vitani has a similar problem in that there’s not a whole lot to her character, but it’s not as big of an issue with her because she’s a side character. She’s somewhat like a child version of Zira for the most part. She’s violent and glorifies bad things. When she sees Kovu alone with Simba, she’s literally panting because she believes Kovu will kill Simba and is excitedly waiting for him to do the deed. When he doesn’t, she becomes angry and instantly alerts their mother.

She’s mostly just Zira’s right-hand lioness when she gets older, and she’s very good at what she does. The best we get in terms of signs of her being any different from Zira are that we can kinda see that she genuinely loves her brothers. She literally sings Kovu’s praises in ‘My Lullaby,’ she play fights with Kovu, and when Nuka dies she’s obviously deeply affected.

However, not enough happens to her to really say she had a character arc in the end, even though she does turn heel and become a good guy in that….somewhat questionable ending.

Nuka on the other hand, despite not changing, really, also has more character and becomes somewhat sympathetic.

In a bit of an ironic twist, Nuka IS a lot like Scar, only without the intelligence and style. Scar was also jealous of his brother for being granted a role he believed he was more deserving of, even possibly through birthright. Even though Nuka is angry about Kovu being chosen by Scar, which leads you to believe that’s his motivation, it’s really not. He clearly just wants his mother to be proud of him. He’s jealous of Kovu not because Scar chose him but because Scar choosing him made him the favorite in the eyes of their mother. Nuka doesn’t try to sabotage Kovu, even though he dislikes him, because, above all else, he wants to make his mother happy. When Kovu starts to falter in his mission, he sees his opportunity to take the reigns and impress her, and he dies while doing so. Tragically enough, he also dies while apologizing to his mother for failing her.

I’m kinda highlighting this issue with Kiara to myself as I’m writing this because I’m much more interested in writing about Kovu, Nuka and Vitani than Kiara. Don’t get me wrong, she is by no means a bad character. She’s quite likable and I adore her relationship with Kovu. But as a character she’s just not interesting enough or fleshed out enough as our main protagonist, which is a damn shame. In fact, she may even be treading into *thunderclap* Mary Sue territory because, technically, she has very minimal flaws.

She’s impulsive, sure, but that’s called being a child. She’s a bit naive, sure, but that’s called being a child. She’s not a good hunter, but that’s mostly a lot of inexperience due to being sheltered so much.

Other than that, I can’t really think of any actual flaws in her character beyond the fact that she’s not an interesting or particularly active character.

The worst we get with Kiara is she runs away after Kovu’s banishment, but she’s fairly right to do so because Simba was overreacting and Kiara was right about him. Immediately after she reunites with Kovu, she tells him they have to go back and help unite their families instead of allowing them to remain apart. She doesn’t have some giant moral quandary, she doesn’t struggle with needing to face a harsh reality (like Simba having to admit he caused Mufasa’s death) she just does it. And when she gets there, she’s able to quell the fighting really easily by offering some cheesy lines that don’t even make a whole lot of sense in context.

Even to Zira, Kiara is merely a pawn. She’s an opening, a stepping stone, a tool. Scar hated Simba because he took his spot as next in line for the throne. Before, the only one in his way was Mufasa, but when Simba was born, he took second spot, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He needed to get rid of both of them in order to take over. Both Mufasa and Simba earned his ire, and both Mufasa and Simba were necessary to fall in order for his plan to work.

In TLK2, however, Kiara doesn’t even register as a being. In fact, I believe, during the entire movie, Zira never even says Kiara’s name. Zira doesn’t have any reason to hate Kiara besides the fact that she’s the daughter of the person whom she really hates. Kiara isn’t getting in her way to kill and get revenge on Simba. If anything, she makes it easier.

The big final showdown of the movie is Kiara and Zira, but 1) they’re not fighting. Zira pounces Kiara, they roll around for a second and then they fall off a cliff. The rest of the scene is Kiara trying to save Zira, but Zira’s her own undoing and refuses help, resulting in her death. And 2) Zira wasn’t even aiming for her in the first place. Zira was trying to kill Simba, but Kiara stepped in the way.

Probably the only character who gets less development or focus/exploration in the movie is Nala, whose very small role is being the only voice of reason in Simba’s ear that he actually listens to (Sometimes) and the only one of Kiara’s parents who is reasonable and level headed. She doesn’t really need a character arc though because she has a set role and she plays it just fine. Her part may be small, and she may be underutilized, which is disappointing, but it’s fine.

The one time they show her as anything different from this is in the big battle scene where Nala says with the most acid she can muster, “VITANI!” when she’s confronted with Vitani mocking her about where her daughter is. I have no idea where this seeming personal hatred towards Vitani came from. Honestly, I’m not even sure how she knows Vitani’s name. Is this implying that she thinks Vitani/the Outsiders had something to do with her daughter’s disappearance? After this one shot of them fighting, we don’t see them together again so it seems even more out of left field.

Truth be told, I’ve wracked my brain on how to change Kiara’s character to make her more interesting and memorable without making the entire story different, but I’ve come up with very little.

My first suggestion is to make her a tough aspiring ace hunter, which was hinted upon in the scene where she’s going off to play by herself. “Mighty hunter has cornered her prey.” As a lioness, she is obviously a perfect fit for being a hunter, but we don’t typically see hunting being emphasized in the Lion King movies very much, so this would be a bit of new territory for her to explore.

Maybe even have a scene where we see Nala training her to hunt and Kiara shows a particular affinity for it. However, Simba is against it because of his overprotective nature and princesses and queens just don’t lower themselves, so to speak, to do such menial labor. (It’s suggested that queens do lead the hunting groups, but it’s unclear whether they actually still hunt or just organize them.) He’s really only allowing her to learn to hunt for the sake of a traditional celebratory hunt for when she reaches adulthood, but after that she’ll be barred from doing it, which Kiara firmly resists because she wants to be the best hunter she can be. When she goes off to find Kovu, she actually utilizes her hunting skills to track him down, allowing that part of her character to be incorporated. Maybe she could reach a dead end to let ‘love find a way’ but still.

At the end of the movie, she’s allowed to go hunt on her own and skillfully becomes the ace hunter she wanted to be….instead of the incompetent one she is in the midway point of the movie. They do show Kovu training her, but only once, and she absolutely sucks at it. We never see her getting better at all, and that’s really disappointing. Not to mention that it’s a little on the iffy side that Kovu teaches her hunting skills in the first place. Lionesses have hunting locked as their thing, but a male lion has to teach Kiara how to do it properly….

The second option I thought of was her wanting to be an explorer/adventurer, which fits right in with her personality as a cub. She was enamored with exploration, and was even incredibly interested in a place that didn’t seem to have really anything in it, but could be fascinating to someone like her who appreciates all the littler details, flora and fauna. Perhaps she could want to become a scout to report back on impeding threats to the Pride Lands or want to explore the unknown areas all around Pride Rock to find new sources of food, water and shelter in case of emergencies.

However, again, this is fully against Simba’s overprotective nature, and he frustrates her by making her strictly stay on marked paths and only go out with an escort. At the end of the movie she solves a problem for some of the animals in the Pride Lands by exploring to find them food or whatnot.

The final option I thought of was the closest to what we actually got, which is making her a sheltered princess who has heard her father prattle on about threats in the outside world so many times that she’s actually quite paranoid. The thing she ‘wants’ is more vague in this scenario. It’s more like something she needs.

She wants and needs to leave the comfort of her cave and have the courage to go outside without fearing something terrible might happen. The only reason she even goes out into the Outlands is because she gets lost after being spooked by something while walking along her marked trail. However, Kovu helps her open up and be a little braver. The incident with the alligators actually doesn’t damage her, but instead it shows her that even though scary things can happen, they can be weathered, and they can even be fun experiences. Plus, having someone with you through it makes it a lot easier to deal with.

She goes on the hunt because she’s pushed into doing it because of tradition, Simba promising this will be the only time. She tries her best, but her paranoid nature, nervousness and inexperience lead her to failure. The only reason she’s not more massively impacted by the events of the failed hunt/fire is because it lead her back to her friend Kovu.

When Kovu is banished, Kiara braves the unknown wilderness, at night even, because she loves Kovu so much that she’s able to brave her fear and go find him. This even makes the song ‘Love Will Find a Way’ have a little more impact. At the end of the movie, she stands up to her father, she’s confident in what she wants, she bravely protects Simba from Zira and even risks her life on the cliffside to save her, proving how brave and kind she is.

At the end of the movie, she becomes a brave and strong queen because that’s the lioness she wanted to be.

Those are just the options I thought of. I don’t know how her character may have been altered in The Lion Guard or if better suggestions have been made, but those three are the best ones that crossed my mind to help improve her character a bit.

The final character I should obviously talk about is Zira, who makes for a very good replace for Scar. She doesn’t have all of his finesse or full memorability, but out of all of the villains of the Disquels, she’s definitely the best, even on the occasions where the main villain returns. She’s one of very few Disquel villains who actually guns for killing and destruction, and she’s the only one who canonically dies in the end.

Zira is very much the evil mastermind who typically gets others to do her dirty work for her, but when the chips are down she will gladly take matters into her own hands. She’s ruthless, she’s hateful, she has a dose of that sarcastic bite that Scar had, and just to drive the Scar similarities home, they even put a notch in her ear so she can also have a bad guy facial deformity trope.

The best part about her is that she’s actually legitimately threatening, which is insanely impressive for a Disquel villain. They even managed to make her the tiniest bit sympathetic when it came to the death of Nuka. But they didn’t make her too sympathetic to the point where I felt bad when she died, which is also good. In fact, they link Nuka’s death to her love of Scar by having her pray to Scar to watch over Nuka during his funeral.

It’s clear that her love is conditional, though. She mourned Nuka so much because, even though he was a dolt in her eyes, he was still incredibly loyal and died trying to kill Simba for her. However, she has no qualms whatsoever about killing Kovu and Vitani because they no longer want to kill Simba or fight the Pride Landers anymore.

I just wish they bothered to explain a little more about why she’s such a massive Scar fangirl. Why does Scar mean so much to her? What did he do over his few years as king of the Pride Lands to warrant her undying devotion and servitude? Why was she seemingly not in the first movie? Where did all of these other Scar fangirl lionesses come from? They could have maybe thrown in a flashback or two to show us some reasoning behind these very vital parts of her character, but we get absolutely nothing.

Zira is also a parent, which makes her a bit of a mirror to Simba. While both parents are expecting their children to be something they don’t want to be, Simba is clearly doing it out of love while Zira continuously proves to care more about getting revenge than her own children. While Simba does his best to protect Kiara at all costs and tries to raise her as best he can while also sheltering her too much, Zira brainwashes Kovu and sculpts him into being the perfect Scar 2.0.

Neither of their parenting styles are really right, and both need to change, but the main difference is that Simba proves himself to be willing to change in the end while Zira ends up dead because she can’t let the past or Scar go so she can change for the better.

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I do believe that’s far enough for this half of the review. We’ll save everything about the actual story for the step-by-step analysis in part two! Thanks for sticking with me this far, and I hope you join me in part two for more of me overthinking stuff and rambling.

Part two coming soon….


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Exploring Disney’s Castle: The Reluctant Dragon (1941) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Robert Benchley wants to pitch an idea about making a book called The Reluctant Dragon into a cartoon to Walt Disney. As he enters the animation studios, he is sent on a tour while he waits for his appointment and is escorted by an annoyingly uptight man named Humphrey. As he tries to dodge Humphrey, he finds his way into the many different departments of Disney’s animation studios and gets to see how animated features are made. Oh and eventually you’ll see a cartoon version of The Reluctant Dragon.

Breakdown: The Reluctant Dragon is a bit of an odd duck, and really seems like it’s false advertising a little.

Most of the movie is made up of behind-the-scenes exploration of Disney’s animation studio, showcasing nearly every aspect of making an animated feature from the voice acting to foley artists, animations, backgrounds, music, character design and more. The Reluctant Dragon feature doesn’t come until the very end of the film and only takes up about 20 minutes of screen time.

But maybe calling it false advertising is too harsh considering that there is a message at the front of the movie that says ‘This picture is made in answer to the many requests to show the backstage life of animated cartoons.’ so at least it’s telling you straight out that its intention is purely that and The Reluctant Dragon is basically a sample of the work they do there.

My problem is that the box art is nothing but The Reluctant Dragon (with Baby Weems) and the title is simply ‘The Reluctant Dragon‘. If some kid really just wanted to watch some cutesy dragon story and ended up with nearly an hour of education on the ins and outs of animation, they’d likely be a little pissed.

I’ve decided not to really take that into consideration in my final verdict. While, yes, it is sneaky, I want to stress how much I enjoyed this movie and the animated shorts included with it. So let’s dissect this movie into the various segments shall we?

Live Action/Behind the Scenes:

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I adore this part of the movie. I really can’t get enough of it. I love seeing all of the various aspects of making an animated feature, and I especially love how fun and kooky they make the world of Disney Animation Studios out to be.

There actually is a plot here beyond just taking a tour of everything in the studio and seeing everything in development. The story of the movie is that a man named Robert Benchley is prompted by his wife to make a pitch to Walt Disney involving making an animated movie out of a children’s book called The Reluctant Dragon. He RELUCTANTLY (Bwahaha!) agrees and he’s brought on a tour of the studio by an annoying man tasked with essentially babysitting him until his appointment.

As he tries to avoid him and sometimes by accident, he sees the inner workings of the various departments in the studio starting with a life drawing class, then going onto music and voice acting work, followed by foley work, then the black and white movie shifts to color (Technicolor!) during the scenes in the camera room, which is awesome, (adore the multiplane camera), the ink and paint department, the maquette department, storyboard department, animation department and finally meeting with Mr. Disney himself in the projection room for a twist ending.

Casey Junior:

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Our first animated short, and yes there are several, is during the segment in which Mr. Benchley is in the foley department. The employees are setting up sound effects for a short involving a train, and the subsequent short is our first feature.

The short is very simple. It’s a train named Casey Junior, the same train from Dumbo, riding down the tracks and getting into hijinks. Like you’d expect of a short animated Disney feature made in the 40’s, everything is very overly exaggerated, practically everything has a face or is otherwise living, and conflicts just tend to suddenly happen. All of this short is intercut with shots of the foley artists making the sounds for each action that occurs on-screen, which I find to be awesome.

As for the short itself, it’s fine. It’s very short; only a couple minutes long, but it’s a little entertaining. Animation on the bullet train was a bit rocky, but overall solid in that department too.

Donald Duck:

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There’s a very short animation of Donald Duck interacting with Benchley as he explains the way that animation works. It’s a very cute albeit extremely short segment.

Baby Weems:

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A short shown while in the storyboard department, Baby Weems is definitely a unique experience from a Disney perspective. The start of the story is merely showing the various segments of the storyboard for the short in progress. Once we get past the first part, however, the rest of the short is very minimally animated while still showing the rough art style of the storyboard.

You just don’t expect a short like this with Disney. Everything traditionally animated by Disney is usually very polished and fluid. I understand what they’re going for here. It’s done in such a way that it’s almost roughly like how seeing each segment of the storyboard would be animated together in your head. However, it’s still a quirky little short.

This is the first of the shorts to actually have a plot, story, as well as beginning, middle and end.

The short is about a newborn baby who is incredibly intelligent. Not only can he talk, but he is also one of the most intelligent super geniuses ever born, even easily debunking one of Einstein’s theories. Everyone in the world is fascinated by Baby Weems, and he instantly becomes a public sensation.

However, his parents can’t even get a second to see him due to his incredibly hectic schedule. As he grows more and more famous, it only becomes more difficult to even catch a glimpse of their son, and they even get so desperate to have him with them that they put the radio that constantly reports his activities in a bassinet.

Baby Weems soon falls ill, and the world is taken by storm by the news. We get a slue of fairly racist depictions of people across the world including probably the most racist depiction of a black person that I’ve ever seen. I was going to avoid posting a screencap, because the shot just makes me that uncomfortable, but I can’t explain this properly without you seeing it so here ya go.

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It’s like they mixed those racist cartoons of black people back in those days and combined them with a duck. It’s so ridiculous that I’m just mind-boggled by it. They even animate the mouth moving really fast and have the sound effect that accompanies it be clacking, like a duck bill….What is even this?

Anyway, the world obsesses over the health of Baby Weems, and since the parents are so fiercely barred from seeing their child, they’re forced to wait outside the hospital and constantly monitor the radio for news. Baby Weems eventually recovers, and as he’s set to make what is supposed to be a world-changing announcement, he reveals that he can no longer talk and is no longer a mega ultra genius. He’s merely a baby of the goo-goo-ga-ga kind.

The world dumps Baby Weems like he’s moldy cheese and he’s finally handed over to his parents to live as a happy healthy baby boy.

This short is very interesting, creative, and certainly memorable….I do have one major problem with it, though.

Baby Weems….is an asshole.

Think about it, he was a super genius. One that seemingly cared a lot about changing the world for the better and caring for people. He had to have known that he had parents who would logically want to be with him and loved him deeply, yet he never tried to make any time in his schedule to see them at all. They never had a millisecond with the kid. He was taken into the custody of the spotlight from practically the second he left the womb. It’s terrible and probably illegal how his parents were always barred by other people to see him, but the fact that Baby Weems never spoke up to let them in or wished to even visit them is just awful.

How to Ride a Horse:

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I adore the how-to videos with Goofy. They are by far my favorite type of Disney short. This one is very good, and I got plenty of laughs out of it, but sadly it’s not really one of my favorites.

The Reluctant Dragon:

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The main feature of our movie is obviously The Reluctant Dragon, which is debuted when Benchley meets Walt. The big twist or irony is that Benchley went through all that trouble to get a meeting with Walt to pitch a short or movie based on The Reluctant Dragon book only to find that Disney had just got done producing one. I would’ve checked with the author before going through all that, but whatever.

As for the short itself…..I don’t like it.

The art and animation are lovely as always….it’s the story and the characters, moreso one in particular that I don’t like. The story of The Reluctant Dragon involves a medieval town going crazy after spotting a dragon. A local farmhand’s son who seems to be quite the bookworm goes off to investigate only to find that the dragon is far from the big bad violent creature it’s made out to be. He speaks in a very effeminate manner, has very fancy mannerisms and is disgusted by the concept of performing regular dragon duties like battling knights, reigning terror on countrysides and kidnapping damsels. He’d rather do nicer things like write poetry, playing the flute and taking baths.

The young boy, disappointed that the dragon is nothing like what his books describe, walks away mid-conversation with the dragon and goes back to the village only to find that a knight, Sir Giles, has taken it upon himself to kill the dragon.

The boy returns to the dragon to warn him, but he just scoffs at the idea of fighting and shoos the boy away. He decides to speak with Sir Giles next only to find that the real Sir Giles is also far from the knights depicted in his books. Instead of a muscular manly swordsman with long blond hair, he meets a very spindly older man who also writes poetry. Upon hearing that the dragon is kind and will not fight, Sir Giles agrees to go to the dragon’s location and speak with him about the impending fight.

When they arrive, they have a nice picnic with the dragon and he and Sir Giles bond over poetry. When the boy finally breaks up open mic night, he brings up the imminent fight only to have the dragon completely refuse to take part.

The boy and Sir Giles then romanticize the battle and shower the dragon with flattery to get him to partake. It works for a bit until he hears that Sir Giles will be using a spear. Worried about getting hurt, the dragon refuses again but they develop a secret plan to avoid injury. Also, this entire scene is in poem form….

The battle is made into a big sporting event, and after getting the dragon mad enough to breathe fire, the fight begins. Obviously, it’s a staged fight and Sir Giles and the dragon screw around while putting on a show for the audience. I will admit that this is the first part of the short to actually make me smile. Some aspects of it are pretty funny like making the dragon mad and the horse getting irritated at the silly shenanigans of the dragon and Sir Giles when he was expecting a legit fight.

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In the end, Sir Giles pretends to slay the dragon and the battle ends. Later, the dragon, despite seemingly being killed, is claimed to have been tamed by Sir Giles, and the local villagers welcome him as a member of their society.

And to wrap up the live action segment, after the film, we see Benchley driving home with his wife as she berates him for letting them make the film while he was dillydallying around the studio. Because, yes, they developed an entire short animated film in 45 minutes. She continues to rag on him claiming anyone else would’ve caught onto the idea and got it to Disney long before now, but Benchley basically tells her to pipe down in a Donald Duck voice and we fade out. Also, she’s the one who first gave the idea to Benchley. So, technically, she should be at fault for not showing the idea to him sooner.

Bottomline: I really do like this movie a lot. I love seeing and learning about all of the various aspects of the animation process, seeing in-progress animated works of early Disney, behind the scenes tidbits, and I love the tone and creativity put into its presentation. The shorts are all pretty memorable and entertaining in their own rights while only varying slightly in quality and entertainment value. However, the big issue for me here is the main feature presentation of The Reluctant Dragon.

If The Reluctant Dragon were just another short included among all the rest, then I’d probably be fine with it existing in this movie without really giving it much of a thought. However, considering this is the main feature of our movie and the main focus of all of the advertising, including the box art and theatrical posters, I am forced to give it the scrutiny it deserves.

It goes without saying that the art and animation for the short are fantastic a la classic Disney, though I did spot one slight animation error during the battle. Some of the sound effects or lack thereof bothered me, but I was overall fine with it.

My issue, as I stated, is with the story and the characters. Most notably the dragon himself. Who came up with his character? Because he just comes off as a really wimpy self-important snob with a seriously annoying voice and manner of speaking. This probably makes for more comedy, but a more likable and sympathetic option would probably be someone less selfish and annoying and more gentle, kind, shy and not annoying.

The story is not really very creative. It’s the same story of avoiding a fight by having a fake one that has been done numerous times, even before this period of time, they’re just adapting a dragon vs. knight motif to it. You can predict everything that will happen from the second you see that Sir Giles is equally as soft and squishy in character. The ending also makes no sense. They straight out say that they’re staging the dragon’s death, and they do, yet he returns later to be a member of the village?

Like I said, I did get a few smiles out of it, but no laughs, and it’s really disappointing that this is our main feature of the movie.

My final rating is taking into regard anyone with an interest in the animation process and Disney works, and people who go into this not expecting a feature length dragon movie.

If you meet those criteria, then it’s a pretty darn good movie. If you don’t, then probably move on.

Recommended Audience: Outside of some racist depictions brought to you by the ’40s (I didn’t even mention the Chinese elephant they were drawing, complete with music track…) and some nip-less nudity on a female centaur figure, it’s perfectly fine. I don’t know how many kids would really be all that interested in the live action parts, though. 7+


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