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!

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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.

——————————-

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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Dissecting the Disquels: Leroy and Stitch (2006) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: After reforming all of the other 625 experiments and finding where they belong, Lilo, Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley are all honored by the Galactic Alliance. Jumba’s access to his old lab is restored, Pleakley has been named a professor at the Galactic Community College as an expert in earth studies, Stitch has been given the rank of captain and has access to a brand new massive spaceship called the BRB and Lilo has been named ambassador of earth.

Trouble is, this means Jumba, Pleakley and Stitch will be staying in space while Lilo goes back home to earth. They feel guilted into staying with Lilo, but eventually Lilo encourages them all to go, realizing that their true place is in space.

Jumba wastes no time taking advantage of his old lab – getting to work immediately on a new experiment. Dr. Hamsterviel, freed from prison by Gantu, orders him to design it the way he wants it: almost exactly like Stitch, but better and more evil. He names the new creation…..Leroy. With an army of cloned Leroys at his disposal and Pleakley, Jumba and Stitch out of commission, Hamsterviel plans to take over the galaxy and destroy all 625 of Stitch’s cousins.

Breakdown: I couldn’t even get through the first fifteen minutes of the movie without needing to jump on my computer and start writing about this because, goddamn, rant mode was activated in record time.

It should be noted that this movie is not technically a Disquel…really. Lilo and Stitch The Series got a movie series finale. I guess the movies do link together fine without the series, but you’d definitely be left wondering about all of the other experiments, who they are, what they do and what their homes were – that’s pretty important.

Speaking of which, we never do get to spend adequate time with all 625 experiments in the series – far from it in fact. Given that the series was made in the time of Disney’s 65 episode rule, the show was ended long before it ever got a chance to showcase all of them. Kinda makes you wonder why they’d slap that premise onto a show that they knew would never get enough episodes to go through every experiment.

But that’s not what I want to focus on right now. I want to focus on the foundation of this plot. Jumba, Pleakley and Stitch are all jazzed to return to space when given these amazing opportunities, but they feel guilty when Lilo looks sad that they’ll leave, so they agree to stay. They’re miserable back on earth, basically spending their days dreaming of what they could have had, so Lilo makes the very mature and adult decision to let them go for the sake of their happiness.

Pleakley and Jumba are….well, assholes about it. They’re jumping for joy, they give zero shits about Lilo as they’re packing and Jumba even throws the consoling words Nani gave her earlier back in her face saying they don’t make sense. It’s not until Lilo gives them parting gifts do they show a modicum of caring about their departure. They don’t even give her a way of contacting them – Later, Lilo has to ask 625, who is properly named to Reuben here, to use the video phone in Gantu’s ship.

Leroy and Stitch 1

Stitch is more visibly upset, but he’s still making the choice to go. And Stitch is the reason my rant switch got flipped.

The whole reason Lilo and Stitch were given the task of finding proper homes for the other experiments and reforming them is because Lilo was able to do that with Stitch (And Sparky, but Stitch was the starter.)

His home was with Lilo. He said as much at the end of the first movie. His one true home is back on earth. So why is he so enticed to live in space without Lilo now?

He’s not excited to go back to space because of some fancy captain title and fighting bad guys – he just wants to pilot the shiny new spaceship they gave him. The entire time that he’s sulking about not choosing to go to space, he’s making a BRB out of pans and pipes and playing with it and looking at the hologram of the ship. He’s very clearly just enamored with the damn ship.

He cares more about the shiny spaceship than staying with his family on earth. Congrats, Stitch! You’ve joined Jumba and Pleakley in assholeland.

And what was that saying?…Uhm….They said it in the first movie….Errr, it was something like uhm….Oh yeah, yeah. Ohana means ‘family’ and family means ‘Nobody gets left behind.’ I understand that it’s healthy to let go of people and part ways if you believe doing so is for their betterment. Lilo was even ready to do that in the first movie (“I remember everyone that leaves.”)

That’s why I was okay with the idea of Jumba and Pleakley leaving, though they could have been less rude about it. Jumba belongs in space in his lab (though, considering his past crimes and the fact that he talked about all of the exciting EVIL work he could do in his old lab at the friggin’ ceremony where his access was restored, he shouldn’t be getting anything. And, whatdya know, the first thing he does when he gets his lab back is start creating a new evil experiment…) and Pleakley…should….maybe be an earth professor. He’d be happy doing it anyway and he has a passion for it.

However, despite having the opportunity to do good as a space captain, is piloting a ship and commanding a crew really something Stitch would be adept at? He is good at flying, but moreso in a solo fashion. Also, I must reiterate that he didn’t seem to give a flying fork about the captain job or fighting space crime – He. Just. Wanted. The. Shiny. Ship.

Leroy and Stitch 2

The main conflict of the movie is intertwined with this plot for the most part. Jumba makes a new experiment the instant he gets back to his lab, because of course he does. He may have helped Lilo and Stitch capture the other experiments and softened up a bit, but he has always stayed pretty consistent in wanting to be evil. Perhaps to take the blame off of Jumba, Hamsterviel and Gantu burst in demanding that he make the new experiment an evil and better version of Stitch – which seems pointless because, by all means, that seems like what Jumba was planning anyway.

If you follow the TV series, and I actually did this time, you’ll probably notice that this idea isn’t really new. You can guess as much by the fact that Leroy’s number is 629 not 627 (following Stitch’s 626)

Experiment 627, who was never reformed or named, was created as a better and more troublesome version of Stitch to knock Stitch down a peg after he had gotten cocky about his ability to find and reform his cousins. Even though he’s clearly a different design than Leroy, he’s pretty close. They’re both red, have more slanted eyes and are basically just slightly different versions of Stitch. Leroy looks closer to Stitch, has different ears and is a deeper color red – also 627 has a cone-head kinda going on. As I mentioned, 627 couldn’t be reformed (which was supposedly a purposeful programming choice of Jumba because he wants actual evil experiments) so he was dehydrated and kept in his pod form.

We don’t know what 628 was. He was only shown in pod form and foreshadowed shortly after 627’s defeat. I think we can assume, considering Leroy is also an ‘improved’ version of Stitch that 628 was another ‘improved’ version of Stitch that we simply never saw.

It’s just a shame because they could have used this opportunity to make a brand new experiment that was creative, innovative and more intimidating, but nope. It’s just another recolored Stitch…..Well, he did make hundreds of clones of him, which made for a pretty good army v. army finale, so I suppose that’s something.

Here’s another something – I really loved watching Reuben and Lilo team up. This is pretty much the first and only time we see Reuben actually utilize his powers. He’s always had all of the same powers that Stitch had, but he never used most of them out of laziness. He’d mostly just make sandwiches all day.

However, Lilo recognizes his potential and bonds with him, and he finally uses his powers – quite impressively, I might add. I really enjoyed watching him and Lilo just hang out as well. When he put his hand on Lilo’s shoulder when Hamsterviel told her that Stitch was launched into a black hole, it was very touching. I wish we could’ve seen them interact more over the course of the series, with Reuben being an active good guy.

Leroy and Stitch 3

Most people who watched the series probably wanted to see all of the 626 experiments being used in some way, and, congrats, you (pretty much) do! Even though it’s unreasonable to see all of the experiments in action, not enough time or budget, honestly, you still get to see a large amount of the experiments on screen at once and most of them get a time to shine during the finale.

Even though the overall galactic takeover plot was a bit too rushed for my tastes, the ending battle is extremely well done with plenty of action and comedic moments. It’s such an interesting battle because of all of the various powers of the experiments come into play. It’s also understandable that they get overwhelmed ultimately because even though there are 626 of them, there are just as many if not more Leroys, and Leroy was designed to be even more powerful than Stitch.

The ending of the battle might seem goofy to some people, but I actually found it to be very fitting and a little touching. Jumba thought ahead when he was creating Leroy and installed an emergency shut off program within Leroy. He used Lilo’s gift, an Elvis record, as the trigger. The song he chose was Aloha oe. Lilo, Stitch and Reuben sing it to shut off the Leroys, but there’s a moment where they all sing the part ‘Until we meet again’ straight to the camera.

It was then that I remembered that not only is Leroy and Stitch the end of the TV series, it’s also the ending of the main franchise. Lilo and Stitch would never have any animated features again to date. Stitch has starred in a couple of anime since then, but Lilo is not with him, instead having adventures with other girls while Lilo has aged and departed from him. (I might talk about those series in the future, but I never had much of an interest in them, to be honest.)

When they sing that part of the song to the camera, they’re telling the audience ‘Farewell to thee. Until we meet again.’ which made me rather sad, especially considering that part of the moral of this movie was learning to accept when you need to say goodbye. Even though the series has technically been ended for well over ten years, there’s still a pang of sadness that they’re saying ‘Until we meet again’ when, as far as I know, we won’t….

Leroy and Stitch 4

Lilo and the others are honored by the Galactic Council again, but this time Stitch realizes his true place of belonging is with Lilo and relinquishes his position as captain. Gantu….somehow gets offered the position.

To his credit, Gantu did help Lilo and the others at the end, but he’s still been an enemy and Hamsterviel’s right-hand man this entire series and two movies (Three if you count the first, but he was technically just doing his job.) In fact, if it wasn’t for Gantu breaking Hamsterviel out of prison, none of this would have happened. Does the Council just not care about past actions? I can understand giving Reuben a pass, he was too lazy to be considered a criminal, but Gantu not only being let off without penalty but also getting a captain position? Are you daft?

Reuben is named Gantu’s galley officer, and Jumba and Pleakley also relinquish their lab and professor position respectively and choose to go back to Hawaii with Lilo – this time happily. Lilo and the others return to Hawaii, happy with their ohana being whole once again.

…..But Mertle’s still a bitch. Yeah, if there’s one thing that’s always been really consistent in this series it’s been Mertle’s constant bratty behavior. She’s not too prevalent in this movie, thank god, but the brief moments she is on screen, she’s being her typically bitchy self.

When Lilo’s having a low moment, right after Stitch and the others leave, Mertle kicks her when she’s down telling her she’s weird and that Stitch probably ran off because of it. She’s always been unreasonably focused on bullying Lilo, to the point where she blames her for everything, and if there’s one thing I’m thankful for with this series ending it’s that I’ll never have to see this little shit stain’s face or hear her awful voice ever again.

However, that doesn’t stop them from trying to wrap up her character in a more even light. They hint that Mertle’s father either abandoned them or is divorced from her mother, which is weird because she talked about him in a good light in Stitch has a Glitch, and even advertised his store. Then, at the end, she says she still thinks Lilo is weird, but Gigi, her pet dog who is also an experiment, wants to be with her ohana, so she kinda just barges in on their group photo at the end, which is not in the least bit earned….

Leroy and Stitch 5

For a series that is mostly based on taking evil beings and reforming them, the writers really do a crap job at doing that when it comes to any non-experiment character. Jumba’s probably the best example, but he never paid for his crimes and he’s still a decent degree of evil. Gantu never pays for his crimes, either, and now Mertle gets no comeuppance. We’re just meant to sympathize with her because they wedged in this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-and-is-questionably-canon-whatever-they’re-implying-here story about her dad being gone somehow.

I’m sorry – no. Lilo has NO parents and an overworked big sister guardian as well as a horrible bully who has barely ever said a positive word to anyone, even her mostly equally bitchy friends. My sympathy well for Mertle is so bottomed out that I’ve broken through the bottom and am making my way to the center of the earth.

As an added bonus to the end credits, they include a scrolling list of every single experiment. As I mentioned, obviously not all of these experiments were seen in this movie. However, I do really appreciate that the writers bothered to come up with names and (likely) powers for each experiment and shared them with the audience before the series came to a conclusion. It shows that they truly cared about both their product and their fans enough to complete the set, even if we only have names for a good chunk of them. You can find a list of every experiment here.

Bottomline: Leroy and Stitch is actually a pretty good movie and a great way to the end the series. The final battle adds a great touch of epicness, and I loved mostly everyone’s interactions with each other, particularly, oddly enough, Lilo and Reuben. The writing is very snappy and there are some really great jokes in here.

There is a depressing lack of Lilo and Stitch in this Lilo and Stitch movie, though, to be honest. They’re together for the first twenty minutes and don’t reunite until the last twenty minutes in this hour and fifteen minute long movie.

The pacing is fairly rushed in the Hamsterviel department, but I’m willing to overlook that. They did get a little too lazy with the redemption arcs for some of the characters with Mertle’s being ridiculously lazy, if you can even say she got redemption and if you can even call that an ‘arc.’ Also, there’s the obvious rant fodder at the start of the movie. I knew they’d stay with her in the end, but the fact remains that Jumba and Pleakley were jerks to her about leaving and Stitch left Lilo for a ship…..

The animation was really good, though again not really up to the original movie’s standards. That’s to be expected since this is basically designed as a TV movie.

Their use of music this time around was good, but not a lot that was new. We got the TV series theme song, Aloha e, Komo Mai, a bunch of Elvis songs, which is the franchise’s trademark, and the Hawaii Five-O theme song for some reason. I particularly liked their use of I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry. It was a great implementation of Jumba’s record gift and made for a nice montage of everyone after they departed for space.

Aloha, Lilo and Stitch. Hopefully, we’ll meet again.

Recommended Audience: I guess you can imply that some of the Leroy clones maybe died in the battle, and there’s a fair amount of violence, but it’s obviously not severe or graphic. These are the same people who couldn’t get up the balls to show Lilo with a scratch on her face. 5+


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Dissecting the Disquels: Lilo and Stitch 2 – Stitch has a Glitch

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Stitch starts experiencing odd bouts of uncontrollable destruction. While everyone, even Lilo, starts believing Stitch is reverting back to his old ways, Jumba and Pleakley know the truth. Stitch’s molecules were never fully charged when he was created, and now he’s experiencing massive glitches in his programming that are causing these destructive episodes. They scramble to find a way to recharge him before he loses so much energy that he dies.

Meanwhile, Lilo and Stitch are preparing for a hula competition. Her mother won the competition years ago and she wants to win to make her proud. However, Stitch’s malfunctioning behavior continues to get in the way.

Breakdown: I’ve never had such massive mixed feelings for a Disquel before.

The main plot is solid. Have Stitch revert back to his destructive behavior, but make it more of a Jekyl and Hyde situation based on him glitching instead of having him turn bad for no reason. There’s a lot that could’ve been done with that, but they dropped the ball pretty bad.

We have three plots running through the movie – Lilo and Stitch’s hula plot, Nani and David are having relationship issues again and Pleakley’s being an annoying dumbass trying to ‘help’ him, and Jumba is trying to make a new fusion chamber to recharge Stitch before it’s too late.

Let’s start with Nani and David’s plot because that’s the shortest and most pointless. First of all, are these two ever happy together? I don’t remember a lot of their interactions from the TV series, and I love David a lot, he’s a great boyfriend and father/big brother figure to Lilo, but he and Nani, as a couple, seem very rocky. I feel like every time the focus is on them in this franchise, they’re having relationship issues.

Lilo and Stitch 2 Screen1

This time, as Pleakley puts it, their relationship is just fizzling. Nani doesn’t seem to be paying much attention for him or making time for him. David keeps making the effort and Nani either doesn’t acknowledge it or can’t attend to it.

I know that Nani is very busy being a young single guardian to a small child, especially in the house filled with aliens they now inhabit, but she can usually make time for Lilo and does have downtime, yet never seems to be willing to give similar attention to David. Even when they’re just having a relaxing family fun night at home, he gets shafted.

The plot is mostly just David, for some reason, listening to Pleakley’s horrible dating advice, then Pleakley himself ruins it more and Nani gets mad for some reason. The plot is resolved by David helping Nani up a mountain. Not kidding. One minute she’s giving him the silent treatment at Lilo’s hula competition, then they’re making eyes at each other when he helps her up the mountain. Truly a romance for the ages.

That doesn’t solve anything, by the way. Their relationship is still ‘fizzling’ You can’t solve actual relationship issues with goo-goo eyes.

The hula plot, which takes up more of the runtime than the glitch plot, oddly, involves Lilo and Stitch trying to come up with a hula for an upcoming competition. Her mother won the competition one year and she wants to win in order to make her mother proud of her.

Lilo and Stitch 2 Screen2

A lot of this plot is montages of them coming up with ideas, creating the hula and practicing for the hula. Some parts were entertaining and a little funny, but it really felt stretched out when we got to our third montage in this hour long movie. Not to mention that I think they’re hitting the Elvis button a bit hard in his movie. I know she loves Elvis and it does make for a good soundtrack, but I’ve seen Elvis movies with less Elvis.

There are also numerous emotional moments in this plotline because Stitch keeps destroying her plans when he has freakouts and Myrtle and her goons keep making her feel like she’s not good enough. I also really liked the ancient story they based the hula on.

I feel like Lilo was a bit out of character with Stitch, though. I know she’s emotional right now, but she never once, until the end, even questioned if something was wrong with Stitch. Instead, she just believed him to be flatout bad, told him so and said he would always be as such. Ouch.

Speaking of the moment of realization, even though the freakout that prompted that revelation was the same as all the others, she questioned if something was wrong with him this time for some reason. He cuts her cheek, even drawing blood, and the very next shot, not but five seconds later, the cut and blood are gone. Either Disney didn’t commit to this ‘shocking’ moment, the animators got lazy or they forgot.

Either way, that was an opportunity for something emotional and impacting, like Nani freaking out that Stitch actually hurt Lilo or Stitch having a horrified look on his face after he injured her and reprised the shame later after she found him on the cliffside. But, no, just Disney magic’d it off her face.

This was meant to mirror a part of Stitch’s nightmare where he does the same thing, but, again, the impact is lost if you magic it off her face.

Lilo and Stitch 2 Screen3

The ending of this plot was alright and pretty sweet. At least they didn’t go the cliché route of having her return to the competition and win, and it’s implied that Mertle definitely didn’t win because her hula was crap. I realize now that Mertle’s pretty much the only surviving embodiment of the annoying jerkass mainland tourist characters, besides the silent fat beachgoers, that they had in the original cut.

There are numerous deleted scenes from the first Lilo and Stitch movie where Lilo encounters obnoxious mainland tourists, some of which being borderline racist, but they were more or less all cut before the actual animation started. Mertle does live in Hawaii, but she’s the only white character in the entire series, and the hula implies that her father brought her family from the mainland to Hawaii to sell cheap ‘authentic’ Hawaiian merchandise.

I might be reading too much into that, but it’s interesting to consider.

Now to the actual plot of the movie, the glitch. This is the part with which I have the most problems.

First off, while it’s a solid plot, it’s ultimately wasted potential. All Stitch does is mess up a few things and give Lilo an insta-healing scratch. I didn’t want him to do too much damage or hurt people, but they had the foundation of a really decent plot here, one that could’ve been much more emotionally impacting and interesting for Stitch, but they decided to just have him be a slight nuisance.

Lilo and Stitch 2 Screen4

Secondly, half of this movie would never have happened had Jumba and Pleakley just told Lilo, Stitch and Nani what was going on. I never understood why they were keeping this a secret or why they were letting this malfunctioning destruction machine stay running loose with a small girl.

If they had just told them what was happening, they wouldn’t have treated Stitch like a monster, Stitch and Lilo would’ve never fought, Stitch would realize he’s not inherently bad and wouldn’t feel like garbage and maybe they could’ve helped save him. They also could’ve kept him contained to prevent him from causing damage and hurting people. But nope, it’s a secret for no reason.

Lastly, the resolution to this plot is so predictable it’s depressing. I predicted it by just reading the little blurb for the synopsis. Stitch causes problems, everyone gets mad at him, his glitches get too bad, death fakeout, Lilo’s love awakens him, all is well.

To make it even worse, they foreshadow the ending with Lilo’s hula story. It also has two friends being torn asunder by outside forces, resulting in one of their deaths, and love brings the other back to life.

Do I even need to mention that this lesson isn’t exactly a good one? Look, Disney, I know you love love, I know you love love=magic too, but teaching kids that love can be so powerful it can bring the dead to life is not really a healthy message.

To anyone who cares to disagree, let me remind you that Lilo is an orphan. She is probably one of the worst characters to be partaking in this trope. I just keep imagining:

Doctor: “I’m sorry, Nani and Lilo. We did everything we could to revive your parents, but I guess you just didn’t love them enough.”

Lilo and Stitch 2 Screen5

I was actually going to give this moment a pass because Stitch did spend some time in the fusion chamber before he was revived in Lilo’s arms. Maybe he got enough power and then Lilo woke him up. But then we get this exchange.

Pleakley: “But…how is it possible?”

Jumba: “It’s not!”

So, the fusion chamber seemingly had nothing to do with it. Also, not only did Lilo’s love for Stitch bring him back to life, it also fully recharged his molecules.

Yay, science?

Despite all of that, I can’t say I hated or even massively disliked this movie. It has plenty of funny moments and some pretty heartwarming ones too – the aforementioned death fakeout nearly had me getting misty-eyed, especially with the song they put in there – it’s just sloppily written and disappointing.

The art and animation are better than Stitch! The Movie. It’s somewhere between TV quality and the original movie’s quality, siding more with the movie quality.

The music is also definitely better than Stitch! The Movie with many more tracks, some new, some old, and a new vocal song made just for the movie, “Always.” which was very nice and relaxing.

The voice acting was well-done. Most of the cast reprises their roles from the original movie, except Daveigh Chase is replaced by Dakota Fanning. She does a remarkable job, though. I couldn’t even tell the difference.

I can’t believe I never realized David Ogden Stiers voiced Jumba. That’s so awesome.

All in all, the technical quality is great, but the story falls flatter than pancakes. It’s predictable out the gate, only gets more predictable with foreshadowing and most of the problems would’ve been fixed had Jumba and Pleakley just told them about what was going on. It’s not unsalvagable because it does have its moments, but it’s still a mess. It’s definitely on the higher end for a Disquel, but firmly middle of the road for a movie as a whole.

Recommended Audience: There’s kinda blood, a little, but the wound magically vanishes. Death is mentioned and there’s a reversed death. 5+

Dissecting the Disquels – The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning

Rating: 8/10

Plot: When Ariel was a child, the kingdom of Atlantica was filled with music and laughter. When her mother, Queen Athena, suddenly died, King Triton, not wanting to be reminded of the pain of losing his wife, banned all music from the kingdom.

Ten years later, the kingdom is dreary and rid of music. Everyone is miserable, but no one dare confront King Triton about it.

As Ariel gets more contemptuous over their situation, the girls’ governess, Marina, desperately vies for Sebastian’s job.

Breakdown: This movie…..

 

 

 

Has no right……

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be as good as it is.

Ariel’s Beginning is the last Disquel to be made, not counting the Tinkerbell movies, follow-ups like the Winnie the Pooh movies or movies based on Mickey and the gang. The last Disquel to be made before this one was Cinderella III (Actually, production on this movie was halted so they could get Cinderella III out sooner. Pbt), and I already explained how weird it was that that movie was so good.

What’s even weirder is the Disquel behind Cinderella III was The Fox and the Hound II……I don’t get how or why these Disquels have such stark contrasts in quality. Did they confirm that they were stopping Disquels in a few years so they decided to have their last two actually be good?

The animation here is definitely the best of the Disquels, even though we don’t get any shots that I would say are particularly amazing or anything (The shot at the end with the rainbow lights comes closest). They still have a budget and whatnot.

The voice acting is great, even Flounder, who almost seems like he’s aiming to be annoying.

The new comic relief is, bar none, the best comic relief any Disquel has come up with. Benjamin is Marina’s assistant. He’s a manatee who is very soft-spoken, almost in a Winnie the Pooh manner, and makes a lot of funny observations. He’s not a comic relief character we get often in Disney or nearly any form of media as this role is typically relegated to loud, obnoxious idiots.

While I am still very hardpressed to tell the girls apart, this movie does give more focus to Ariel’s sisters. Fans of the TV show or books might find them more memorable, but considering they barely get any screentime in the original movie and…..are they even in The Little Mermaid II? I usually forget they’re even there. It was nice to get some more characterization for them, even if a bulk of it is just “Attina’s the oldest and most responsible….and there are five others besides Ariel.”

While I can see many people wondering why The Little Mermaid needs a prequel, it does answer a question many people had about the movie – Where is Ariel’s mother? The answer is, she’s dead.

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I would’ve liked more time with Athena because she’s only in the opening scene and barely gets any lines. When her life and death are the main crux behind the conflict of the entire movie, you’d like to get to know her a bit more. All we know is that she looked a lot like Ariel, she was kind, she loved her family, she was deeply in love with her husband and she loved music.

Still, her death sets off the entire plot for this movie, which is good in a writing sense because it’s pretty hard to justify banning music and being so vehement about it.

However, simply banning music isn’t enough of a conflict. We still need a villain. Today’s Disquel villain is Marina Del Rey, voiced by Sally Field, because that’s about as random of a choice as anything. To her credit, Marina is a…fairly entertaining villain – leagues above Morgana anyway, but she’s….probably one of the lamest villains in Disney movies.

Which brings us to the main three problems with this movie.

1) Marina’s a weak villain.

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I give them credit for not trying for another Ursula clone, but that kinda makes matters worse. Unlike Morgana and Ursula, she doesn’t want power or the Trident, she doesn’t even want Triton’s job.

She wants Sebastian’s job.

Sebastian’s job.

Sebastian’s job.

She wants to be a higher grade lackey, essentially. Imagine if they made a Lion King sequel where the villain was trying to overthrow Zazu. It’s on that same level of ‘huh?’ It takes her until the very end of the movie before she even feels compelled to kill Sebastian.

She doesn’t have any sort of magic powers. The best thing she has are a team of electric eels, which are nowhere near intimidating enough to carry her. Having your main driving force being lackeys never works.

Marina’s also very showboaty and loves to wear flashy dresses, much in the same realm of a showgirl. While you could say similar things about Morgana and Ursula, they at least had the power to make it seem like they were justified in their egos, making them seem kinda badass (Ursula anyway). The showgirl thing is just part of Marina’s character, which is fine, but doesn’t seem very unique.

The Wiki compares her to Yzma (and Benjamin is, likewise, compared to Kronk), which I can see, but at least Yzma was murderous, kinda scary, has some form of magic powers and wanted the job of empress.

2) For a movie trying to highlight how grand and powerful music is, their soundtrack is not as good as it should be at all.

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The colors are great in this movie as well.

Compared to the other Disquels, it’s very good, but if you want me to be entranced by beautiful music, you have to have more original music in the movie, particularly lyrical songs.

There’s Athena’s Song, which is very good and a great opener to the movie.

Then there’s our villain song, Just One Mistake, which is not good as a song, but is sung just fine by Ms. Field.

Ariel’s song, I Remember, is also very good. Thank you for finally letting Jodi Benson have a song after she was robbed in The Little Mermaid II. God forbid the character known for her beautiful singing voice be allowed to sing.

Finally, we have I Will Sing, which is a non-musical number song performed by Jeannette Beyardelle, which is fine.

Other than that, we have covers of samba songs, which eat up the rest of the music-oriented parts. I have nothing against mambo, calypso, samba, etc. In fact, I enjoy them, but when you’re listening to Jump in the Line (Shake, Shake, Shake, Senora) for the third time in a row, I get kinda irritated. Also, we have an instrumental cover of Man Smart (Woman Smarter) and I couldn’t even tell it was a cover. I thought it was just random calypso music.

Being fair, the background music is great. I absolutely loved the piano music that was playing during the dialogue-free scene of Triton and Ariel before she runs away. Kudos for attempting the dialogue-free scene in the first place. A lot of animated movies, especially direct-to-DVD ones, don’t try that. It was very impacting.

3) The story can be seen as a rehash of the original movie + The climax bites.

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Something Ariel likes is strictly forbidden.

Her father is seemingly being unreasonable.

There’s a scene in which Triton destroys a sanctuary dedicated to this forbidden thing.

Ariel has a heated confrontation with her father about this and runs away because of it.

Triton and Ariel make up after she realizes why he was so adamant about forbidding the forbidden thing and Triton realizes he was being too harsh and restrictive.

Someone’s killed by a boat.

All of these things happen in Ariel’s Beginning, but I’d be remiss to say this movie is a rip-off of the original. It’s certainly reminiscent, but not nearly as rehashed as some other Disquels.

Something odd about this movie is, despite taking place a year before The Little Mermaid, Ariel actually seems a little more mature, intelligent and reasonable than she is in The Little Mermaid. Also, no, we don’t get a prequel explanation as to why she’s so enamored by human stuff, BUT we do get a prequel explanation as to why Triton hates human stuff so much.

The aforementioned boat death was Athena’s death scene. In the beginning of the movie, Triton, Athena, the princesses and many Atlaneans….no that’s for Atlantis. Atlanti…cans? Atlanticers?…Atlan….fish were enjoying some time in a lagoon, singing and playing along. Triton gave Athena a beautiful magic music box, which had images of Triton and Athena dancing together within it.

A pirate ship came by, and while everyone was trying to run away, Athena was attempting to save the music box. The ship crashed into her, the music box sunk and Athena passed away. While they never outright say this in any of the movies, probably because it would’ve been difficult to show it in this movie and Athena’s story hadn’t been made in the original movie, it can easily be surmised that Triton grew to hate humans because they were responsible for his beloved’s death.

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In regards to the climax, it’s incredibly weak. It is, by far, the worst part of the movie. Marina sics her electric eels on Ariel and Sebastian to keep them from making her lose her job (even though, considering her job involves caring for the princesses, having one die on her watch likely would’ve gotten her fired anyway)

The eels pointlessly stare at them for eons after having them cornered, Flounder, of all characters, saves them. Marina basically has a comedy face-off with Sebastian and, while stuck in a rock formation, tries to crush him, but ends up creating a death fake-out with Ariel, which is pointless because, being a prequel, we know she’ll live.

Then she straight up vanishes, Entirely. The plot forgets about her until the end credits, which suddenly get interrupted by her in prison. It’s like they forgot to include an ending for her until they were already editing the credits together.

Benjamin’s her prison psychiatrist for some reason. The end.

While these problems are very apparent, I still have to say this is one of the best and most enjoyable Disquels by a long shot. It might even contend TLK2 for top spot, and I never much cared for the original Little Mermaid. It has pretty good sentimentality, some good humor (I loved the scene where Marina parodies Ariel’s crescendo scene on the rock, even if it has been done many times by this point, and doesn’t make sense given that this is a prequel, thus Ariel hasn’t done that yet) and a good deal of fun. If the ending was either much darker or had about 20x more action, and it had a more serious or threatening villain, it’d definitely be the best Disquel.

Recommended Audience: They do say the dreaded d-word (died) and one character dies kinda off-screen-ish but other than that, nothing. 5+

Dissecting the Disquels: Kronk’s New Groove (The Emperor’s New Groove 2)

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Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Kronk has been living a happy life in the village since the end of the last movie. He has a good job as a cook, he’s the leader of a Squirrel Scout troupe and everyone around town loves him. However, he’s shaken when his father, Papi, announces that he’s coming for a visit. Kronk has always yearned for his father’s approval, but has never been able to get any recognition since his father finds everything he enjoys to be silly, and believes a successful life can never be achieved without a house on a hill, a wife and kids. Kronk explains to his boss that he had most of that stuff once, but lost it all. When he’s done with his stories, Papi arrives, and Kronk has to convince Chicha, Pacha’s wife, and their kids to pretend to be his wife and kids for one last chance at a thumbs up from Papi.

Breakdown: Some of you have been following Dissecting the Disquels since the start, and we’re nearing the end of the road (about four left after this, give or take). By now, you’ve probably caught on to the familiar formulas Disney tends to use when it comes to Disquels.

Almost all Disney sequels follow one of these structures.

1 – The child of the main character from the first movie having their own adventure, which is the first movie either redone or in reverse.

2 – A prequel or midquel no one asked for and answers questions no one had.

3 – Three stories stitched together, pretending to be a full movie when, in reality, it’s actually a pilot to a failed or aired TV series.

You should be able to tell by the plot synopsis which route this movie takes.

So take a stab at an answer. Which do you think it is?

If you answered 3, you’re right! Though, don’t feel bad if you answered 1 or 2 because even those are partially right.

While Kronk isn’t Kuzco’s kid, they do make off like this is a replica of the first movie in numerous ways. I’ll get more into details later, but the very start of the movie has Kronk in a bad situation narrating how his life was awesome and asks how he got in this situation, like Kuzco does in the start of the first movie. The first song of the movie is a choir/soul song singing Kronk’s praises like the first movie did with Kuzco (except it’s totally different because whereas Kuzco had a man singer, Kronk has a woman singer.) and the finale answers where the first scene came from and so on.

This is a sequel, not a midquel or prequel, but it does delve into Kronk’s backstory (gotta love the recurring trope of compelling backstory=daddy issues) and answers questions no one had like ‘What happened to Kronk after the first movie?’ ‘Did Yzma ever turn back into a human?’ ‘What happened to that restaurant Kuzco and Pacha stopped at during the last movie?’

As for the stuff about being a first movie replicant….

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You know how many Disquels seem like they’re pretending to be the first movie or have the wrapper of the first movie and bank on that being enough to hook in viewers? Those movies never seem like they care to try to be like the first movie and do the bare minimum to remind viewers that it is indeed still a movie in the franchise. This movie, however, is doing its damnedest to try to be the first movie in every way short of just taking a DVD of the first movie and printing the poster art for this movie on the front.

The weird thing is, the story isn’t very much reminiscent of the first movie. Kronk’s not really getting his groove back. He never lost it. He never gets turned into a llama or any other animal or anything. Plus, the fact that this movie is technically three stories in one means the focal goal really can’t be anything like that.

What I mean by this movie being a replicant is, holy hell, they love to throw every single joke they ever made from the first movie at your face. Outside of some jokes exclusive to Kuzco, and I’ll get to his role soon enough, they take every notable joke and scene from the first movie and recreate it.

For many of them, they recreate them and then run them into the ground. For example, Kronk’s shoulder devil and angel appear way too many times (they even give Tipo, Pacha’s son, his own pair so they can milk the living hell out of it), they repeat the animated ‘plan’ quickly narrated by the planner schtick a couple of times, they let the uncomfortable Yzma seeming like she’s sexually alluring someone go on for nearly an entire scene etc.

Most of the other references are just one-offs, but the insane repetition of jokes doesn’t end there. When they have an original joke, they also like to run that into the ground, even if the joke isn’t funny. For instance, during the second segment, they have Kronk mark his box of eggs with ‘Kronk’s eggs. Property of Kronk. Do not touch except for Kronk.’ then his love interest, Ms. Birdwell, has a box of raisins which have ‘Birdwell’s raisins. Property of Birdwell. Do not touch except for Birdwell.’ written on them. Then ‘Tipo’s itching powder. Property of Tipo. Do not touch except for Tipo.’

That wasn’t a funny joke the first time, yet they deemed it funny enough to repeat three times. They not only have it in writing, either. They need to have someone read each item out loud, subsequently wasting five seconds of your life on purpose each time.

That’s not to say everything in the comedy department’s a failure. I will admit, a couple jokes actually warranted a chuckle out of me, which is more than I can say for nearly any other Disquel. That was when they were actually making jokes that kept the spirit of the original movie’s comedy instead of just referencing it or directly ripping off its jokes.

They start getting a steady rhythm or ‘groove’, if you will, and then they screw it up by repeating a joke, making a first movie reference or repeating a first movie reference. Maybe this movie is more accurately titled than I thought, because I wanted Kronk’s New Groove to get its groove back quite often.

In a story perspective, we can break up the film fairly easily. We start with Kronk flailing around in a bunch of cheese as he narrates to us about how he got into that situation. We flashback to earlier that day and get the Kronk praise song I mentioned. Kronk has made a good life for himself as a cook at the restaurant Kuzco and Pacha visited in the first movie, and everyone loves him. However, he gets a llama-gram (which is not delivered by a llama so I guess this is just another first movie reference) that says his father, Papi, will be coming for a visit soon.

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Papi is under the belief that Kronk has a successful life as a businessman with a house on a hill, a nice wife and several kids – the requirements to be successful per Papi’s guidelines. Papi never approved of the way Kronk acted, such as speaking to squirrels and cooking. He basically forced Kronk to give those things up, telling him he’d never be successful unless he got serious.

Kronk explains to his boss that he once did have the house and family, but was unable to keep any of it.

This leads us to the story of the house. But first, an interlude by Kuzco. Since fans of the first movie are probably wondering when Kuzco will make an appearance at this point in the movie, they give Kuzco the responsibility of popping up once in a while as an interlude either before a segment or in the middle of it. They’re all not funny, none of them have a point and they only serve the purpose of giving David Spade a paycheck.

He shows up before the first segment, in the middle of the first segment, in the middle of the second segment and then finally shows up in the actual movie for a few minutes at the very end.

This first segment interlude has Kuzco merely telling us, over and over and over and over, because repetition is this movie’s bread and butter, that this is Kronk’s movie – not his. Because we’d never get that from the fact that this movie’s called KRONK’S New Groove. Most of the time, they even omit the ‘The Emperor’s New Groove 2’ part of the title. It’s officially just Kronk’s New Groove.

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I don’t know where they got that DVD art. I’ve never seen it outside of the movie.

And that’s all he does. Fun fun. Why is he one of the most prominent characters on the DVD covers and promotional art, again?

The actual first segment is about Kronk running into Yzma yet again. She’s returned to a human state, but maintains a cat tail. After an incredibly long scene of Yzma flirting with Kronk to seduce him into her plan (including, yes, the reference to her raising her dress and showing leg, which is actually nonsensical here because she’s trying to show him something she’s stepping on and her dress isn’t long enough to warrant needing to do that for that task.) we’re made privy to her scheme.

Yzma has a plan to sell a youth potion to the elderly people Kronk has befriended. She needs Kronk to sell it because he’s built a good rapport with them so it will be easy for them to trust his pitch. He reluctantly agrees because he needs the money to build a house on a hill to impress Papi.

We get a song break that….I’m not sure I like…..I like Eartha Kitt a lot. I loved her in Batman, I love her as a singer and as a person, and I hated it when she died. This is also her second to last film role before her death. However….she sounds really….odd here. For some reason, she sounds like she has a Russian accent half the time and her singing ability is just off-base. I’m not sure if she was sick and that was affecting her ability to talk or sing properly, but she just sounds weird in this movie.

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Long story short, the people nab up the youth potion and eventually become addicted to it, Kronk becomes rich and buys the senior center from the desperate-for-money old folks, which he destroys for the sake of building his house, and Yzma reveals that she’s just putting sewer sludge into a bottle and selling it.

Kuzco interrupts again just to tell the audience that Yzma’s a snake oil salesman and this whole thing’s a scam for some greater scheme…..Thanks Kuzco. I’m sure you educated the butternut squash that didn’t deduce that at this point.

Kronk sees that Rudy, the old man who threw off Kuzco’s groove in the first movie, is naked and begging for money to buy youth potion. He and his friends sold everything they had, including their clothes, in order to get more youth potion. Kronk spots him a bottle and he starts acting like Gollum from Lord of the Rings….Literally. That’s the reference they’re making. Kronk, with the help of his shoulder angel, realizes that Rudy doesn’t look any different, so the potion must be a sham.

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This is just stupid. Rudy needs to actually realize that he doesn’t look any different before he realizes that the potion’s a placebo. Tricking yourself into believing it’s making you feel better because you trust Kronk is one thing. Ignoring that the outside does not match the inside…..especially when naked……is another.

Yzma’s real scam was to get all of the elderly people on her side so she could win an election for emperor. They brought up that it’s odd that it’s suddenly an electoral position, but they don’t explain why Kuzco doesn’t seem to be running a campaign if it is (Kuzco voluntarily giving up an opportunity to partake in an activity that is literally nothing but speaking highly of him? Yeah, not happening) nor do they explain why the elderly vote is so vital to her campaign. Only elderly people are buying and using this potion – I can’t imagine elderly people were such a huge majority of the population back in Incan times.

Yzma get ousted as a fraud, the old people chase her through the city and they do that bit from the first movie where they pan out far away to see her on top of a huge overhang. They very nearly redo the ‘I win’ joke from the first movie, but Yzma again turns into a tiny cute animal, this time on purpose so they won’t attempt to hurt her. Little bunny Yzma rejoices in victory, but is carried away by a hawk and we’re left to assume she got ripped apart and eaten.

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The lesson of this segment, by the way, is that you’re only as old as you feel….which 1) is useless to the demographic this movie is aimed towards 2) doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway because a lot of these guys felt old to start with. They didn’t want to improve their looks so much as how they felt.

In order to make up for what he did, Kronk gives his super cool new house to the seniors and that’s how Kronk lost his house.

Next up, the story of how Kronk had and lost the love of his life. Kronk goes to a competition for Squirrel Scouts when he meets a woman named Ms. Birdwell. He falls in love according to schedule a la Disney Princess, but the romance is ended before it even starts when Kronk’s fun loving scouts cannon-ball the more refined campers of Birdwell’s troupe, getting them wet….yeah. That’s the huge conflict. The swimming children….got wet…so Birdwell’s furious. Oh and one of the girls got her dolly wet, so that makes her super furious. Must suck to live in a world where shit doesn’t dry.

Because of this, Kronk and Birdwell become incredibly determined to beat each other in the competition and run their kids ragged in training. They realize what idiots they’re being so they decide to make it up to their campers by making raisin bread. Which leads us to the ‘property of….’ yadda yadda ‘joke’.

Birdwell and Kronk fight some more, but when things get out of hand, they feel guilty and start making bread together, which leads to our second song…..a disco song, which is fine….but….uh….the background animation is just Kronk and Birdwell being luvey duvey with each other and uh….some of the animation is…..*cough* I might just be reading too much into some of it, but you can’t tell me there’s not something off about her saying ‘get out your oven mitts, because it’s about to get hot’ followed by this…

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and especially this KNGGIF2FIXEDThere is no way I’m reading too much into that. Their movements, their position, the camera angle, Kronk’s facial expression. I was surprised that shot even got by the censors.

In addition to the Aladdin 3 effect of making a bunch of Disney movie references during this montage (Lady and the Tramp, Tarzan) third-party movie references (Titanic) and for some reason a Michael Jackson reference (hot on the heels of his second child molestation allegation. Smart, Disney) it also seems like this whole montage is one big reference because this is the second time I’ve seen a main character in an animated Disney sequel fall in love through a disco dance montage – The first being A Very Goofy Movie (should that be considered a Disquel? Hm.)

While I can dance along to the song just fine (and no one shall ever see me dance) I have to say, this montage goes on for too long. They just make various references, dance and gaze creepily into each other’s eyes.

Montage over, Kronk and Birdwell are ungodly luvey duvey now (as in, I was gagging at how luvey duvey they make these two in the proceeding scenes) and Kuzco butts in again. What does he have to say now?

Nothing. He cries because it’s so romantic then tells the audience to excuse him because he needs a moment.

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That’s it.

That’s all.

Kuzco has less to do in this movie than Slowking did in Pokemon the Movie 2000.

They make up with the campers and go on with their friendly competition. They end up tied in wins with the tiebreaker being the cheer off. However, there’s a snag.

Kronk told everyone to do whatever it takes to win the previous day, so Tipo decides to put itching powder in the grip chalk before the other team does their routine. He tells Kronk right as their routine starts and the team falls, with Birdwell falling into the mud. She finds Tipo’s itching powder bag, and Kronk takes the heat for it, since he feels guilty for putting Tipo in that situation.

Despite this being a clear misunderstanding (it’s not like he told Tipo to cheat, and I can bet she also said something similar to ‘do whatever it takes to win’ to her campers) Kronk doesn’t even really try to patch things up and Birdwell leaves in a fury.

And that’s how Kronk lost his woman.

The final story takes place in the present, though still flashbacked slightly, and Papi arrives. This segment is by far the worst and the most annoying to sit through.

I hate stories where the main setup is fueled by lies and deception that the audience is aware of. It makes everything incredibly predictable and awkward. However, they amped up the sitcom awkwardness to levels I never even imagined. Kronk asks Pacha is he can borrow his wife and kids and pretend he owns his house just for however long Papi stays. Before he can solidify agreement, Pacha runs off, thinking he’s got a better idea, and Papi arrives, leaving Chicha with the baton.

He’s short.

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It’s funny because they thought this intimidating guy would be tall, considering how huge Kronk is. Haha.

She agrees to help and everything goes alright for a while until Pacha comes out in drag, claiming he’s Kronk’s wife. Normally this would be the end of the road for the charade, but Kronk says he’s Chicha’s mother. Papi starts hitting on Pacha….Hah…..Wait, where’s Kronk’s mom? Is she dead? You create a backstory no one asked for and then forget a big aspect of it? I’m surprised they didn’t take the obvious joke of her being dead because this is a Disney movie.

Kronk also tries to hide the fact that he’s the cook at the restaurant. Rudy then comes in pretending he’s Kronk’s wife. Then some of Kronk’s Squirrel Scouts get together in a big coat to pretend they’re Kronk’s wife. Some other elderly people arrive in diapers to pretend they’re Kronk’s kids. Kronk’s two old secretaries from the first segment arrive claiming they’re his wives. Finally, Kuzco arrives in drag pretending to be Kronk’s wife. At least he acknowledges that he weaseled himself into the movie. Points off for bragging about it instead of it being a confession, though.

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….Is it weird that I think Kuzco looked better as a llama in drag?

Anyway, Kronk left some cheese in the pressure cooker, the result is what you’d expect, so we’re back to the beginning of the movie. He confesses to his father and then realizes that he is successful because he has a bunch of great friends.

His father’s not so quick to accept that because, by his definition, he still has nothing. His friends, however, reveal that he used to have a big house, but gave it up for his friends and he used to have a girlfriend, but gave her up to protect Tipo. And it’s during the predictable speech and group shot that you realize Kuzco has gone missing again. Do they need to pay David Spade for screentime even if he’s not talking?

They also give us this lovely shot of Chicha.

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Sweetie….you okay?

The expected happens again after the speech as Papi realizes that Kronk’s right and gives him the thumbs up he always yearned for.

Because we need every possible thread tied up neat in a bow, Tipo arrives. He sneaked out earlier after he started feeling guilty about Kronk’s situation since he was responsible for what happened with Birdwell. As a surprise, he brought Birdwell with him. By the way, did Pacha and Chicha get replaced with Didi and Stu Pickles? Tipo’s been gone for about an hour. Pay attention to your children!

They don’t say Tipo explained everything to Birdwell, but she has forgiven Kronk and they reunite. They imply that Papi and Kronk’s boss will get together and then they dance to a reprise of the first song, which, now that I’m hearing it, says ‘be true to your groove’. Which means this movie should moreso be called ‘Kronk’s Old Groove – Now with 50% more parental respect.’

We still have Yzma’s plot thread to take care of, so we see Yzma in a nest when the eggs next to her hatch into cute little birdies, who then turn into crazed monsters and we’re again left to assume she’s ripped apart and eaten. Roll the seven minutes of credits in the hour and 14 minute long movie.

The en….wait.

During the credits, there are a bunch of photos. Through these photos we see Kronk and Birdwell getting married, going on their honeymoon and buying a house on a hill as Papi gives them a thumbs up.

……..So….doesn’t that mean….the whole message of the movie is now moot? Now Kronk has 2/3 of everything Papi required for him to be seen as successful, and he’s probably on his way to getting the third if that bread kneading scene is any indication. I know they wanted to drive home the happy ending, but come on. Don’t unravel your entire plot. We can deduce that they get those things down the line.

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This movie received the predictable terrible to mixed reviews and, even over 10 years after its release, it still holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes…..which is completely unjustified in my opinion.

Anyone who left a rating on RT, go watch the Disquel garbage I’ve watched then go back and write a review. You fuckers gave Hunchback 2 a 30%, Cinderella 2 an 11%, Tarzan 2 a 33%, Tarzan and Jane a 17%, Belle’s Magical World a 17% – one of the few Disquels that actually seems like it’s trying to give a shit and, hell, is just actually trying….a 0%. Jeez, no wonder RT and IMDB seems like two entirely different worlds at times….

I agree with some of the reviewers that Kronk is funny in smaller does and just cannot hold a whole movie on his own. Nor can he probably hold a TV series, which is why this never took off.

However, The Emperor’s New Groove did get a TV series, though it was still based on Kuzco. It was called The Emperor’s New School, and it was about Kuzco needing to graduate school before he can officially take his place as emperor (just go with it). I’ve watched a few episodes of it and it was fine. Kuzco’s left best in smaller doses, too, though, especially when he’s hitting on the TV series love interest of Malina.

Oddly, while Kronk is also in that series, he’s back to being Yzma’s crony and Ms. Birdwell is no where to be found.

This movie was both better and worse than I thought it’d be. Usually the Disquels that employ structure 3 are basically unsalvageable, but this one’s entirely watchable and even a little funny. It’s not great, there are some spots that are actually terrible and the whole structure is a complete mess, but, like I mentioned before, when it gets in its groove, it’s one of the stronger Disquels.

They poke fun at themselves, they poke legitimate fun at Disney itself, and there are some good and funny moments here. It’s just a shame because it could’ve been a lot better. They obviously had a drive to do it, but the stories they ended up using were just either bland or cliché as cliches can possibly go without causing a rift in time and space.

It’s also one of those movies that reeks of production problems. I can’t find anywhere that states such a thing, but it seriously feels like the writers and director wanted one thing, a legit sequel, while the higher ups forced them to make it into a series of episodes for a failed pilot.

I would not be at all surprised given the first movie’s troubled production history, but let’s save that story for another time.

The art and animation is lower quality than the first movie, of course, but it’s on the high end for direct to DVD Disquels. Despite Derp!Chicha, there aren’t that many odd frames and the animation is fluid enough.

The music is also better than Disquels usually give us. I’m not a big fan of the feature presentation version of Feels Like A Million by Eartha Kitt, but the end credits version where it’s less filtered and is half lounge-y sounds much better. Let’s Groove by Earth, Wind and Fire is something I can listen to anytime. Be True to Your Groove by Sandy Barber is eh, and the orchestral music is fitting and nice, especially the very last end credits song. It can get a little too doinky, though.

The voice acting is great, barring Eartha Kitt’s odd voice work here and there. Nearly everyone reprises their roles, including John Goodman, but I almost wish David Spade had just said no to this because his role is entirely pointless from start to finish. I don’t care how much it’s not his story – Rudy, Pacha, Chicha, the kids, even Bucky the Squirrel had 1000x more to do in this movie than Kuzco did. It’s almost like they thought no one would buy it if they didn’t see Kuzco throughout the movie and on the artwork.

Give this movie a shot if you liked the style of the original movie. It really does make an effort at both trying to stay true to the original and being funny on its own, but be prepared for a lot of first movie references, beating the dead horses that are some of the original and referenced jokes and just dealing with the typical blahness that comes with Disquel-itis.

Recommended Audience: Surprisingly, there are several instances of sexual themes, and it can’t all be my dirty mind. Rudy gets naked once, but you obviously can’t actually see anything. Plus, some references no kid would ever get but that doesn’t matter much. 7+

Dissecting the Disquels: Beauty and the Beast – Belle’s Magical World

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Plot: Yet another mid-quel taking place sometime after the wolf attack but before the confrontation with Gaston, this movie consists of four short stories about Belle and the Beast and their adventures in the castle.

Breakdown: Oh boy. Just what I always wanted. Another crappy Disquel that isn’t really a movie so much as a bunch of episodes for a TV series that never happened stitched together like some sort of gaping wound….

At the end of my last Beauty and the Beast Disquel review, I noted that I had some hope for Magical World since Enchanted Christmas turned out to be okay.

I should learn never to have hope.

Soon after I finished that review, I started looking up reviews and info on Magical World, and hoo boy it’s much less well-received than Enchanted Christmas.

Not many people have a good word to say about it beyond ‘well, it’s a decent enough thing to entertain your very young kids with for an hour’. You know what else can entertain very young kids for an hour? Making pies out of dirt. An hour-long loop of fart noises. Playing ‘how much crayon can I get on the wall before Mommy or Daddy starts screaming?’

And do I even need to bring up the obvious again? Just as a refresher; this midquel is pointless. Most midquels are pointless, but the ones for Beauty and the Beast are especially pointless because they usually in some way involve mending bridges between Belle and Beast or worrying about if they’ll get together or not and whether they’ll turn back to people or not. We’ve seen the movie. They do. Tension over.

What were they even thinking trying to make this as a TV series? Were they really planning on making a TV series based on the midquel adventures of Belle and Beast? How much time went on during that short interlude between the wolf attack and Gaston? How much material could you possibly justify? It would just end up either being filler crap about the servants or the same arguing to resolution shtick that Belle and Beast go through nearly every time they see each other. That makes some damn good entertaining television.

This is actually one movie where it would really only work as a TV series if they focused on the original couple’s kids. I’m not exactly certain what they’d do with that, but at least it would be fresh material.

Enough stall tactics; let’s break this down.

Segment one – The Perfect Word

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We start off with Belle and Beast having a meal together. Belle is trying to tell Beast about a new book she’s reading, Cinderella (well, that’s kinda meta isn’t it?) while Beast is trying to be civil and kind to impress Belle.

Beast has a hot flash and can’t stand the heat in the room, but he’s advised to not open a window because it’s still winter and the servants and Belle will be very cold. He tries to bear it for a while but ends up demanding to have the window open anyway. He goes on a tirade saying he doesn’t have to be considerate of others because it’s his castle and he’ll do what he wants. He has a huge-ass temper tantrum, smacking away a new character, Webster, in the process.

Webster is a dictionary. Yup.

Belle says he’s being rude and foolish. She storms off and Beast flips the table in anger.

Later, the two refuse to apologize until the other apologizes. They’re so adamant in not being the first to apologize that Webster, LePlume, a fountain pen, and Crane, a stack of papers, decide to forge a note to Belle pretending to be Beast apologizing.

Let me pause for a second and say, why yes, LePlume does indeed literally translate to ‘The pen.’ Between this and Webster, you guys are being so damn creative with your naming today. Only one that is a bit creative is Crane, which, from what I gather, was based on Thomas Crane, the owner of a paper mill that Paul Revere stabled his horses in and became one of the most widely known paper distributors ever.

But really, if you had to become an object, how much would it suck to be a stack of paper? You’re vulnerable to basically everything, except rocks if decision making games have taught me anything, you’re limited in supply and you’re disposable.

They forge the note, and Belle, who has been crying and waiting on baited breath for Beast’s apology (even rushing to the door and fixing her hair when she thinks he’s come to apologize….) accepts it and goes to apologize to Beast as well. Because apparently calling someone rude and foolish when they have a gigantic hissy fit because they’re hot and physically assaulting someone because of aforementioned frustration is something that warrants apology.

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She’s clearly in the wrong.

They make up and Beast tries to listen to Belle reading him a book. However, he’s loudly eating a snack as she reads, so she can’t concentrate enough to continue. Beast decides to control himself and puts aside the snack for later, telling her to continue. Cogsworth praises him for his restraint and says he wouldn’t want to have to write another apology letter.

At this, Beast is both infuriated and confused since he knows no such thing about a letter. Belle shows it to him and Webster, LePlume and Crane admit what they did. Beast chases them throughout the castle, and Belle tries to protect them from his wrath. He spares their lives, but banishes them from the castle and says if anyone tries to offer them comfort, he’ll punish them.

If you think about it, at least two of these guys are as good as dead anyway. Remember, Webster’s a book and Crane is a stack of paper. They’re out in the snow. Crane should’ve been dead shortly after hitting the ground and Webster would surely die in an hour or so.

The three traipse through the woods, hoping to find help at the nearest town. Because yeah, I can see everyone being helpful to talking library items.

Meanwhile, Belle beats herself up for not being the one to apologize to Beast….Girl, you barely had anything to apologize for. You rightfully called him rude and foolish after he blew up, blasted winter winds into the room and bitchslapped Webster. Sure it’s not nice to insult people, but stop acting like you were more in the wrong than he was because that could not be further from the truth. It’s not in the same atmosphere as the truth.

The three get lost and end up back at the castle. They don’t want to enter the castle because they’re afraid of what Beast will do to them, but Belle insists they come inside to get warm and dry. And in the cases of Webster and Crane, to get all wrinkly, weird-feeling and discolored. She says that the Beast may do and say terrible things sometimes, but deep down inside he has a good heart.

….He just kicked out three of his servants into the dead of winter and offered them no means of protection. Two of these servants could have easily died or at least suffered serious damage/injury the instant they hit the snow. But yeah, he’s a precious flower.

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Beast overhears this, and as Belle tries to warm up them up, he apologizes to her for his behavior and apologizes to Webster, LePlume and Crane as well. As he leaves he says in a creepily happy tone “That was so easy! I feel happy now! Happier than I can remember!” Uhh….even people who aren’t raging assholes have difficulty admitting they were wrong and apologizing. It’s hardly easy, and considering it took days of pouting and more temper tantrums including him literally screaming “I will NEVERA…POLOGIZE!” I’d say it was pretty hard for you, furball.

And just making up with Belle makes him that happy? Yeah, sure.

Oh yeah and there’s a side plot with Lumiere having an argument with a chandelier and also having trouble apologizing. This is basically filler because it’s just reinforcing the lesson, and the only reason I really bring this up is because the chandelier’s name? Chandelieria. Yeah, that’s what they decided to name her. Chandelieria.

At least when they gave LePlume his name they were using the French word for pen that English speaking countries don’t use. The English word for chandelier IS chandelier. If you’re going to be that lazy, let’s just call Lumiere ‘Candlestick’ and Cogsworth ‘Clock’.

And I’m calling bull on that being her name because almost always is her name being pronounced just ‘Chandelier’ Sometimes it sounds like ‘Chandeliera” but I always figured that the ending ‘a’ was a part of the accent. Never do they ever sound like they’re adding ‘ia’ to the end.

After that subplot is over, they extend the episode even more by them all reflecting upon the lesson of forgiveness.

And we’re still not done because we have to slice in a song break for some stupid reason. Couldn’t have put that in the middle of the episode or something? It’s just so jarring because after the scene on the veranda it, by all means, seems like a ‘fade out to credits’ moment. The music swells, we fade to black and then we get a random song.

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The song is called ‘Listen with our Hearts’…..and it’s still repetitive parroting of the forgiveness lesson. Belle and Beast have lots of trouble communicating properly, they fight a lot because of it, but later when they’ve had time to cool off and take the time out to understand the other, they make up and love and romance and blah blah. The song itself is actually pretty decent, but it is so jarring in its placement and is really just more filler.

Holy crap, what a load of……well, crap. That whole shitstorm happened all because Beast had a massive tantrum over being hot. I get that he probably runs warmer than most people because of the fur and all, but it’s winter and they’re not near a source of heat or anything besides Lumiere and Chandelier, and, no, I’m not adding the ‘ia’.

There’s really nothing that seems to be spurring on his near heat stroke. Really, any normal person would just say ‘Excuse me, Belle, but I feel overheated. I am going to get some fresh air. Would you like to join me?’ If Beast was too perturbed to think of saying that himself, you’d think Cogsworth or Lumiere would suggest that. But no, he demands the window be open and then goes on an asshole spree. Between the massive mood swings and the hot flash, I’d say Beast is just going through menopause.

Then they have to act like friggin’ five year olds and do that stupid ‘I’m not apologizing until he/she apologizes’ crap. Something that probably could’ve been fixed if they reminded Beast or Belle of the rose and their current situation.

But, again, no, they have to make up a lie that was inevitably going to be uncovered and Beast has to completely overreact. His servants have done much worse to him without them being punished too severely yet lying in an effort to fix his relationship to Belle is something banish-worthy? Especially in the middle of winter. Especially when the servants are porous pieces of stationary.

Segment two – Fifi’s Folly

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This one can be summed up rather quickly. It’s the fifth anniversary of Fifi (the feather duster) and Lumiere’s first date. While Fifi is super excited about it, Lumiere just barely remembers. He asks for Belle’s help in not only making the night a replica of their first date, but he also needs help writing his feelings out on a cheat sheet since he has trouble doing it on the fly.

As Belle helps Lumiere in secret, Fifi follows them every step of the way, getting increasingly angry as she believes Lumiere is romancing Belle in the same manner that he romanced her on their first date. Because, yeah, I’m so sure he’d seduce Belle and screw over their chances of being turned back to humans….oh and yeah, Beast would turn him into a pile of melted wax and brass if he ever found out.

When everything’s set up for the date, Fifi explodes in a rage of jealousy and anger, consistently calling Belle terrible names behind her back. She decides if she can’t have her great anniversary date with Lumiere, no one will. So she cuts the strap of the ‘sleigh’ about three quarters of the way to ensure that Belle and Lumiere will crash and friggin’ DIE when they have their sleigh ride.

Oh and just to prove how stupid and angry Fifi is, she doesn’t realize that having a sleigh ride in a modified punch bowl pulled by a small dog-footrest would be a bit on the impossible side for Belle….

Fifi’s about to leave the castle forever when she’s stopped by Lumiere who explains that the date was for their anniversary. She’s slightly embarrassed, but since she did most of her jealous insanity in secret, she goes on the date just fine. She even gets on the sleigh ride, simply hoping the strap won’t break the whole time. Because it’d be way too hard to say ‘Oh my, Lumiere, this strap seems like it’s been frayed! Perhaps we should replace it before our sleigh ride, my love!’ Nope, better risk your neck…or…handle.

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A candlestick doesn’t have to do much work to make himself look hot.

The strap breaks and they go out of control, resulting in them flying off the side of the mountain and barely hanging on by a branch. Also, Lumiere needs to make up his mind on how he sweats. Several times before this he sweats by having the candlewax on his head melt. Later, he sweats regularly.

As Belle and the other household items try to reach them, Lumiere admits his love for Fifi and he and Fifi are saved.

So yeah….that was pretty dumb too, wasn’t it? I mean, a story about Lumiere and Fifi, fine. But we know that Lumiere’s not trying to date Belle so half the episode with Fifi seeing more and more evidence to the contrary is completely pointless and wouldn’t even make sense if we didn’t know by seeing them preparing for the date.

Fifi’s a goddamn psycho. Why should we feel happy that a bitch who tried to kill Belle and Lumiere out of jealousy got her man? I wanted nothing more than to pluck her feathers by the end. I also wasn’t aware that Lumiere and Fifi were a legit couple. He flirts with so many women, it’s hard to believe he’s in a relationship.

Oh and Beast was not in a single frame of this episode. Some Beauty and the BEAST series they were making.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Dissecting the Disquels: (Peter Pan 2) Return to Neverland

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Rating: 7/10

Plot: Wendy has grown up and now has children of her own; a daughter named Jane and an infant son named Danny. She raised them on the stories of Peter Pan and everyone seemed to love them.

However, when Wendy’s husband is sent to fight in the war, Jane is told that she needs to take care of the family until he comes back. Taking the promise with utmost seriousness, Jane puts aside childish stories of Peter Pan and Neverland in lieu of responsibility and lists. Her mother and brother try to retain her childhood, but it’s not until Peter Pan himself intervenes that Jane truly sees the light.

Breakdown: Okay, here’s the deal….I never much paid attention to Peter Pan. It was just one of those movies that never caught my interest for some reason. Even the Peter Pan segment in Kingdom Hearts, one of my favorite games ever, just didn’t appeal to me. I don’t know exactly why as there’s nothing inherently wrong with the franchise outside of the little brat Tinkerbell, but eh. Let’s see if the sequel can spark some Peter Pan excitement in me.

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We start off with a pretty cool opening as we see Tinkerbell flying through the clouds creating silhouettes of all of the Peter Pan characters, and eventually we see the actual Peter Pan on a ship in the sky.

This movie takes place in the future (future as far as the last movie is concerned anyway) where Wendy is now an adult, but still always believing in Peter Pan. Wendy now has a family of her own, and her daughter, Jane, takes the reigns this time around.

I would fault this for being yet another Disquel that relies on the main character from the first movie’s child possibly rehashing the experiences of the last movie, but according to what I’ve read, Jane is actually a legitimate character in the Peter Pan books, though not thoroughly explored in the books apparently.

In addition, this is a reversal on Wendy’s character. Whereas Wendy was about doing all that she could to enjoy her childhood and not grow up, Jane is all about putting aside childish things and trying her best to grow up. And….yeah, reversals of the parents’ story is also a Disquel thing. Lady and the Tramp 2, The Little Mermaid 2, The Lion King 2, to a lesser extent.

As we get our first song of the movie, we also get our title screen. It should be noted that this movie isn’t technically Peter Pan 2 – it’s Peter Pan IN Return to Neverland, according to the title. So…is Peter a side character in his own franchise now? Well, I guess considering Tinkerbell’s little series doesn’t seem to include him, people must only want everyone but Peter Pan.

The song by the way, is ‘The Second Star to the Right’, a remake of a song from the original, and it’s pretty nice.

Our story begins in England in the….midst of World War II…..I’m sorry, this is one of the more light-hearted and non-serious movie franchises under Disney, right? World War II? In Peter Pan? That’s like seeing Donald Duck in Nazi German–

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………Oh…..well then…..*cough*….Carry on.

Jane’s father is sent off to fight in the war and leaves Jane to protect her mom and baby brother while he’s away.

Aw now, don’t be sad, Jane. Everyone knows only mothers die in Disney movies.

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…..Okay, there are rare occasions, but usually no.

We cut through some time and see the town in shambles as children are being evacuated to the countryside to help keep them safe. I commend Disney for a bit here, because that’s actually historically accurate.

We see Jane wandering around the rubble with her dog, and it’s both narrated and implied by dialogue that Jane has lost sight of the fun of being a kid in such harsh times. I-…I’m sorry; is this a character flaw? It is World War freakin’ II, and she has been tasked by her father to take care of her mother and infant brother. I think she has every right in the world to be focused more on survival than hopscotch.

Back home, Wendy takes Danny into the bomb shelter after air raid sirens go off. He’s scared, but she comforts him by saying the bomb sounds are more like cannonfire from pirate ships, just like Captain Hook, and Danny dons a Peter Pan hat to play pretend.

We cut back to Jane and the dog who are trying to get back home, but the dog nearly gets caught up in a bomb blast… Think of the happiest things, it’s the same as having wings, take the path the moonbeams make, if the moon is still awake, you’ll see him wink his eye, you can fly, you can fly, you can fly…..if you get hit with an air strike……..

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Jane saves the dog in the nick of time, and makes it back home.

The item she was retrieving was a gift for Danny’s birthday; a pair of socks, which Danny dislikes and Wendy responds awkwardly as being ‘practical’…..I’d say socks, even mismatched, during World War II would be a pretty nice gift actually. In order to make the gift more interesting to Danny, she uses the socks as hand puppets and pretends that they’re Peter Pan and Captain Hoo—is Wendy obsessed?

Every single time that she’s been on screen so far it involves her doing something Peter Pan related. She made a Peter Pan doll for Jane, she made a Peter Pan hat for Danny and it seems like whenever something happens she just makes it better by bringing up Peter Pan. There’s nothing wrong with that, but she still seems very personally fixated.

Anyway, as Jane listens to the radio for news and ideas for supplies that they might need, Wen—Holy crap, Jane has way better handwriting than I do. Geez. She’s like, what, eight? I write like a coke addict in an earthquake and she’s basically a teacher in calligraphy.

Wendy tells Danny the story of Peter Pan stealing treasure from Captain Hook just for kicks, and that somehow makes him a hero or something. Jane starts to listen to the story with a smile, but once it’s over she puts her headphones back on and brushes it off as BS.

Again, I don’t really blame her. Even if she is still at an age where she may still believe those stories, it’s incredibly hard to believe stories of magic flying unaging children and pixie dust when, again, you’re in the midst of World War freakin’ II.

The air raid ends and they go back inside. Jane chastises Wendy for filling Danny’s head with silly stories, and Wendy tries to reply but a knock at the door stops her. As Jane carries Danny to bed, Wendy meets with an old soldier at the door who says her children are to be evacuated in the morning. Wendy’s shocked as she hadn’t even been able to tell them that the evacuations were even happening, but accepts the soldier’s message.

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Wendy tells Jane about the evacuation, but Jane vehemently refuses to go both because she simply doesn’t want to leave and because she promised her father that she’d protect both Danny and her mother. Wendy asks Jane to promise to protect Danny and keep telling him stories about Peter Pan because he needs them to cope, but Jane flips out and says that faith, trust and pixie dust are all nonsense. Danny comes into the room and disagrees with his sister, but she points out the reality of the world they’re living in and how believing in that stuff is foolish.

Danny then runs off in frustration while Wendy scolds Jane for speaking to Danny like that. She tells her that she thinks she’s mature, but she has a lot to learn.

Here’s where I’ll give some leeway into this being a flaw with Jane. It’s perfectly normal for her to wish to give up ‘childish’ things like playing and listening to fairy tales since she has put the weight of her family on her shoulders, forcing her into adulthood. But she’s also trying to rob Danny of having a childhood at all when he’s barely out of diapers.

It’s obvious to her that these Peter Pan stories do offer him comfort and help keep him and Wendy sane and happy during these tough times. It’s counter-intuitive to try and rip that from him for no reason. There’s nothing he can do to help himself right now. He’s too young to do anything useful. Keeping him safe, fed, watered and clothed doesn’t require taking away his happiness. Look at Grave of the Fireflies.

Jane is likely just taking everything too far, but she is doing it in a realistic way.

This still holds the problem of it being too much of a character flaw in Jane. The only reason that Danny and Wendy are seen as the more, for lack of a better word, ‘rational’ ones here is because we know that Peter Pan, the lost boys, Captain Hook and pixies are all real. But even knowing that they are….she still has a point!

If magic, Peter Pan and pixie dust exist, it’s difficult to believe that they do given that they live in a war zone. I also understand that the real point is to not let reality rob you of your inner child and that tiny part of you that believes in magic in some form, but that’s a hard message to sell when the reality that is robbing you is World War freakin’ II.

Sure, it was harsh to tell a three year old that all that stuff wasn’t real in lieu of forcing him to face the harsh realities of war; that’s probably within the realm of telling a kid that Santa’s not real and pointing out that they live in a third world country, but it’s not like it’s entirely unreasonable for her to have such an outburst.

We then get our next song, I’ll Try, and it’s actually really good. One of the best I’ve heard from any of the Disquels. And it’s actually a pretty good stand alone song even if some of lyrics seem silly out of context. It’s basically about what we already know; that Jane feels heavy responsibility on her shoulders to take care of the family and she doesn’t have time to believe in magic and Peter Pan, but she tries and wants to believe. It’s just hard to since she can’t ignore everything that’s going on around her.

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The pirates and Captain Hook arrive at Wendy’s house and mistakenly kidnap Jane thinking that she’s Wendy. They put her in a sack and cause all sorts of damage across London in their bleh-y CGI ship before heading to Neverland.

When the pirates get back on the water, they hold Jane in a sack over the water and lure a giant octopus to her location. Apparently, this octopus is our replacement for the crocodile with the clock in its stomach. It’s shtick is the same thing, constantly tormenting Hook only with the sound of rhythmically popping suction cups instead of a clock ticking. There’s really no reason for the octopus to be making those sounds other than to be a rip-off of croc, who actually had a purpose in making the clock ticking noises.

The reason he was afraid of the croc was because he took Hook’s hand. The reason the croc kept following him was because he ate his hand, liked the taste of his blood and flesh and decided to pursue him in hopes of eating him completely. The croc also ate a clock, and the ticking sound scared the hell out of Hook because he knows the sound indicates the croc is nearby.

The reason he’s afraid of the octopus later on and is freaked out by the popping noises? Because Tinkerbell drops the octopus on Hook’s head, he ends up in its mouth, but escapes without harm. The octopus develops a taste for him so I guess he chases him everywhere….Well okay. I think I’ve delved too far into anime culture to be comfortable with this, but okay. Where did the croc go? Did it die?

Anyway, Peter Pan shows up to save the day, finally. It’s 20 minutes in for God’s sake. He saves Jane from the octopus and Tinkerbell drops the octopus on Hook. The octopus tries to drag Hook underwater to eat him, but he gets saved by his crew.

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Peter brings Jane over to a nearby rock and frees her from the bag to realize that she’s not actually Wendy, but is her daughter. Jane initially doesn’t believe what’s happening and thinks it’s merely a dream. Hook’s crew starts firing cannons at them so Peter escapes with Jane through Neverland.

They have some fun flying around, with Tinkerbell being a bitch as per usual (so how exactly does she end up with a bunch of shorts and her own spin-off movie?), and they eventually reach Peter’s house to meet the Lost Boys. Peter then proclaims that Jane will stay with them forever, be their mother and read them stories. Yeah, they’re still doing that.

The kids want to play games and screw around, but Jane declines, despite the fact that the youngest boy reminds her of Danny. She says she has to leave and walks away. Peter then points out that she acts like a grownup to which the Lost Boys reply ‘Eww’. I understand this because, again, that’s another point of Neverland, but were they looking for a mother that acted like a kid too?

We get more Hook and Octopus shenanigans where Hook actually states that he was finally rid of the croc and now this is happening. I decided to look this up and surprise surprise, there is no reason for what happened to the croc beyond Hook ‘losing’ him somewhere between movie 1 and 2.

I can imagine that they flat out didn’t want the croc to make a reappearance because of the fact that it ate Hook’s hand was probably deemed as too scary in this day and age so they replaced it with a silly octopus. Though apparently the croc, known as Tick-Tock, later makes an appearance in the DISNEY JUNIOR show, Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Yeah, this thing is seemingly too violent for a Disquel set in England during WWII, but shove it into a Disney Junior show, that’s much better.

The point is that Hook is going after Peter again.

Peter spots Jane trying to head home on a homemade raft she must’ve made in ten minutes. She says she needs to go home and make things right with her brother and mother for saying Peter didn’t exist when he does. Oh, I guess she doesn’t think this is a dream anymore.

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Despite Peter stating that she won’t be able to get home in such a manner, Jane says she has to try anyway and bids Peter goodbye. However, Jane sucks at raft building and the raft sinks before she even gets ten feet out. Peter explains that the only way out of Neverland is to fly, and he’s willing to show her how.

Back at Peter Pan’s Uninsured Flight School, Peter and the others are trying to teach Jane to fly, but she doesn’t believe that she can. Peter says all she needs to fly is faith, trust and pixie dust, but Tinkerbitch, of course, doesn’t want to give her any. Peter persuades her into doing so by taunting that if Jane doesn’t learn how to fly, she’ll be stuck in Neverland forever and have to live with them.

So, Tinkerbell responds by assaulting Jane with a sack of pixie dust. Nice. But she does get comeuppance when she sneezes from so much dust and sends Tink flying around bouncing all over everything.

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Jane fails in flying and slams into the ground. I guess Neverland basically gives you cartoon physics because Jane makes a human shaped crater in the ground and comes out perfectly fine.

As she gets out of the hole, Peter notices a list Jane made earlier and explains it’s stuff like that that makes her unable to fly.

They play keepaway with her notebook, which accidentally ends up getting eaten by one of the Lost Boys. They laugh about it, but Jane has a fit yelling at them, calling them children, saying she doesn’t believe in them and when Tink starts being annoying again she adds that she especially doesn’t believe in fairies.

Jane, you can’t really say that anymore. Call them children, sure. But you are seeing and experiencing Neverland, Peter Pan and fairies. You flew through a rainbow earlier. I’m pretty sure the time for ‘I don’t believe’ is long since passed.

Jane leaves, but Peter and the others seem glad to be rid of her due to her outburst. After she leaves, Tinkerbell falls ill and you can already tell it’s because of Jane’s comment about not believing in fairies. By the way, why is it called pixie dust if she’s a fairy and not a pixie?

Jane tries to camp outside, ending up taking shelter in a small cave in the rain as we get a clip show of times she spent with her family, specifically the time when her father asked her to take care of Danny and her mother. While this isn’t particularly needed, it does showcase why it’s easier to sympathize with Jane each and every time.

Besides the whole World War Freakin’ II stuff, she also feels a heavy burden on her shoulders and responsibility to her dad, and when she tries to be responsible people just roll their eyes and talk about fairies or they screw around and mock her. I’d be frustrated too.

She shouldn’t dedicate her life to being a stick in the mud but WORLD WAR—You get the picture. Even if Peter Pan and the others have been proven as real beyond any shadow of a doubt, it doesn’t change how she feels about her promise nor the status of things back home.

Back with Tinkerbell, they confirm my suspicions and say that Tink’s light will go out if Jane doesn’t start believing in fairies…..No idea why. Millions of kids probably don’t believe in fairies, why is Jane the case that makes Tink terminally ill? Because she’s the only one in Neverland who doesn’t believe? Because she said it to her face?

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Peter believes the only way to make Jane believe in fairies is to make her one of them; A Lost Girl.

Cut back to Jane where she hears Hook crying. She smartly takes his sword from the ground and threatens him with it before asking what’s wrong. He claims he lives in the real world and misses his mother. He can take his ship and leave to the real world to reunite with her, but Peter Pan has his treasure and his crew would mutiny if he went off without it.

He’s obviously lying, but Hook tricks her into agreeing to getting back his treasure from Peter with the promise that she will be able to go with him on his ship back home. He even signs a contract stating that he will not harm Peter, and she agrees as long as the treasure’s rightfully his….Well, of course it’s not rightfully his. HE. ARE. PIRATE. When pirates have treasure, chances are they stole it from someone.

Peter, Jane and the Lost Boys reunite, and Peter apologizes to Jane for ruining her notebook. However, they want to make it up to her by turning her into one of them. She suggests they play Treasure Hunt, and Peter agrees, but only on the condition that she acts like a Lost Boy.

We get our next song, ‘These are the Things We Lost Boys Do,’ which is…alright. It’s not particularly bad, but I don’t really enjoy it much. It’s also the only song that’s actually sung by the characters as opposed to merely being played over regular footage.

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Throughout the song, Jane just starts having fun with all the shenanigans she and the boys are getting into and she eventually stumbles upon the treasure chest. She debates calling Hook with the whistle that he gave her, but ultimately throws the whistle away. Peter finds her with the treasure and congratulates her on winning the game by dubbing her the first official Lost Girl.

The Wiki page for Jane also confirms that she is the first and only Lost Girl on record (Supposedly because Lost Boys were made up of boys who fell out of their prams when the nurse was looking the other way. If the boys were not claimed within seven days, Peter would take them to Neverland. Girls do not become lost because, as Peter puts it, girls are ‘Too clever’ to fall out of their prams.)

They cheer, give her an honorary….wolf (?) hat like the other boys all have animal outfits and reprise the song about Lost Boys.

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Then, uh oh, one of the Lost Boys finds the whistle in the water and blows it, instantly calling Hook to the scene to capture Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.

He thanks Jane for her assistance, outing her actions to Peter, who calls her a traitor and tells her that Tink’s light is going out because of her not believing in fairies….Uhhhh, it was stated in the beginning that Peter steals from Hook and hides his treasure for no good reason besides to have fun as Hook pursues him. If it’s just a big game to him, how is she a traitor for telling him the location of the treasure? It takes away the fun, sure, but Peter can always steal it back.

In addition, Hook’s plan would’ve failed for the most part if Jane hadn’t suggested they play Treasure Hunt to begin with. All she needed to do was find the treasure, not Peter. It’s not like she needed Peter to tell her where it was, she stumbled upon it on her own.

Hook also turns his back on his promise to not harm Peter as his exact wording was to not harm a hair on Peter’s head. So he merely plucks out one of his hairs, declares not to harm it and throws it to Jane. She promises that she’ll save Peter and heads off to the house to try to save Tink.

However, it’s too late. She’s dead and boy do I feel bad.

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Oh come on, of course she’s not dead. Jane’s grief apparently sparks belief in fairies which causes Tink to regain her strength and cheer Jane back up.

Hook is having fun tormenting Peter in the most tame way possible, and finally decides to make him walk the plank while tied to an anchor. However, Jane and Tinkerbell, who is much more likable when she’s not being a jealous twat, arrive on the ship to save Peter and the Lost Boys.

She frees the Lost Boys while Tink distracts Hook and Smee, and they send the pirates overboard by flinging the treasure into the ocean with slingshots. Jane manages to get the key for Peter’s handcuffs from Hook, but he chases her up the mast and corners her.

However, she finally believes she can fly……believes she can touch the sky. And with the power of faith, trust and pixie dust, she is finally able to fly off of the mast and away from Hook. Even the pirates cheer for her, which is weird because 1) She’s the enemy and 2) she just prompted the boys to chuck their treasure overboard.

Still, she unlocks Peter from his cuffs and the anchor and they fly around together for a bit…It kinda bothers me that they’re sorta playing up a romantic angle between the two of them considering the last person he did that with was Jane’s mother….

But the cheering doesn’t last long as Hook grabs Jane and pins her to the mast with his hook. Peter cuts the rope he’s hanging from, drops the anchor on him and sends him crashing through the whole ship and on top of, you guessed it, the octopus. The octopus then chases Hook back up into the ship, damaging it even further, causing the ship to sink and dragging Hook under while the Lost Boys escape.

However, for some reason, the damn thing can’t keep ahold of Hook despite the fact that it has eight long incredibly flexible legs and suction cups, and he launches out of the water again and into the life boat that the others are on. The octopus pops back up and now wants to eat all of them for no given reason and chases them away while making the popping noises.

The Lost Boys cheer their one and only Lost Girl for saving them, but Tink brings up that, since Jane can fly now, that means she can go home. While everyone’s sad to see Jane leave, she says that she’ll miss them all and tell her brother all sorts of stories about Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Peter and the others say they’ll escort Jane back home and they head back to London.

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Jane wakes up in front of her window (don’t worry, it’s not a dream sequence) and rushes to her mother to apologize for what she said earlier and to tell her that now she knows Peter Pan is real. Danny walks out having just had a bad dream, and Jane is quick to play around and comfort her brother with new stories of her adventures with Peter Pan.

Wendy smiles at the sight, but suspiciously looks out the window for something. Peter’s trying to catch a glimpse of her by the window and eventually the two reunite. While Peter points out that she’s changed and grown up physically, Wendy says that she hasn’t really changed on the inside.

Wendy also reunites with Tinkerbell, who gives her a shot of pixie dust, allowing her to float up a few feet, showing that she really hasn’t changed. Their reunion is short lived, however, since Peter needs to go back home. He bids Wendy goodbye as the kids also come up to the window and see Peter and Tink fly away.

And just because we have to have the most unrealistic and predictable ending possible, at that very moment, Jane’s father comes home from the war….the war that is still going so strong that they feel the need to send the children away to the countryside and told Wendy that very thing earlier in the night. He’s not injured or anything that I can see, so I have no clue how he got early leave. Also, does this mean that Jane and Danny aren’t being sent away anymore?

We see Peter and Tink smiling at the reunion before they finally head home. The End….of this hour and two minute long movie that is only 70 minutes due to the credits.

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I can’t speak as to how this movie may possibly offend the original, but the main gripes I’ve seen in reviews on IMDB are about how the characters act. Tinkerbell is supposedly more aggressive here than she is supposed to be, Peter Pan and the others are seen as being portrayed as jerks (mostly in regards to their rowdiness and destroying Jane’s book and laughing about it. Can’t say I disagree) and the fact that Peter Pan is not supposed to be some hero character, according to one reviewer – he’s just supposed to be a playful kid who screws around and gets into trouble.

I will say that the movie is more about Jane than Peter, which I think it’s supposed to be anyway, and Peter really is used mostly as a plot device to show that playing around, being childish, believing in magic and having fun aren’t particularly bad things. Granted, her transition was rather jarring and took place over the course of a song, but still we got the gist. As I stated, you don’t want to see her lose her childhood, but on the other hand you can greatly understand why she feels like she must.

Also, the fact that this is called Return to Neverland may seem misleading as none of the original human characters are actually returning to Neverland. Wendy is in this movie, but she only gets one short scene with Peter and doesn’t really fly much or visit Neverland. However, I found their reunion to be short and sweet.

Bottomline: This movie is perfectly fine. Short, seemingly pointless, but perfectly fine. I actually laughed once or twice at the Lost Boys. While Peter, the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell do get grating sometimes, they all redeem themselves over and over. Jane is sympathetic, and you root for her to finally start having fun and having a childhood again.

The art and animation are much better than your average Disquel fare. Still not as good as their namesakes’ theatrical releases, but still really nice, except some shots with the ship. The music is actually really good, even if there is a real lack of original songs and there’s only one song that is sung by the characters. It also might be somewhat weird that ‘Do You Believe In Magic?’ in the main ending credits song.

The movie’s main issue is in its predictability. While they kinda slap you in the face with World War II, the rest of the events are rather paint by numbers. You can really predict exactly what will happen through small prompts. Because of that, there’s nothing to really make this movie particularly special.

However, it’s still an enjoyable movie and far from one of the worse Disney sequels I’ve been subjected to. Maybe I would feel different if I were more of a childhood fan of the first film, but as it stands, I enjoyed watching this movie, and I’d recommend a watch to people looking for a light Disney movie.

Recommended Audience: There’s some dark themes what with World War II and all, but it’s not like you see anyone die and really this is lightest tale I’ve seen connected with World War II. It’s no Grave of the Fireflies that’s for sure. 5+

Dissecting the Disquels: Aladdin and the King of Thieves

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Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Aladdin and Jasmine are getting married (Finally! It only took 86 episodes and 3 movies….) when the party is crashed by a man named Cassim, leader/King of the infamous band of forty thieves. Aladdin becomes curious about the thief, and soon learns that he’s much more to him than he first thought.

Breakdown: Here’s a cool little factoid; Aladdin’s mom is not only alive, she was meant to be a fairly significant part of the first movie. You can see her deleted scenes on the Aladdin DVD where we see that Aladdin was stealing not just for himself but also to support his mother. They even had an additional and subsequently cut song called ‘Proud of Your Boy’ to showcase this that was rerecorded by Clay Aiken for the special edition DVD release.

When he finds the genie and makes his wishes to be a prince in order to marry Jasmine, his mother advises him to drop the charade and tell Jasmine the truth, same as the genie. However, her character was scrapped somewhere along the line in the project and we’re left to assume that she got killed by the Disney mother-hating gods along with Jasmine’s mom.

Here’s another factoid; in this movie, they mention his mom. She supposedly died when Aladdin was very young and he was left to fend for himself while his father was presumed dead. Though I’m not quite certain how. If Aladdin remembers his mom, surely she must’ve told him that his dad just left instead of died, but they never go into details. Maybe she purposely lied to him.

One more note: look at that poster. That poster is apparently a rarity. Why? Well, I specifically wanted to find a poster that didn’t say a particular line on it.

Now recall why Robin Williams didn’t want to reprise his role as Genie in the second movie. He agreed to do Genie’s voice in the first movie if they promised not to use his likeness (Genie himself) or his name to push the movie.

What did they do?

They made Genie’s picture take up a huge part of the box art, made his credits as the peddler and Genie come first before the main characters and shrunk down the main characters on the box art so Genie would get all the focus. When the second movie and series came around, Robin basically told them to kiss his ass and Dan Castellanata came in to take over the role.

Robin Williams reconciled with Disney and agreed to do the third one….after Dan Castellanata already recorded all of the audio for the role. But they really wanted Robin back so they just gave Dan his paycheck and showed him the door.

I’m pretty sure there was no previously agreed upon marketing strategy for this movie, but while I was looking for posters to use for this review, I noticed something odd.

Many of the covers stated “Starring Robin Williams” on the front.

Specifically, all of these and probably more.

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You may notice that the first poster doesn’t only say ‘Starring Robin Williams’, it also takes the time out to boast ‘Robin Williams is back as the Genie!’

I have no clue what went on there. Was this agreed upon with Robin Williams or did Disney basically want to give Robin a big ‘Screw you’ for not doing the second movie and the series?

What makes this even stupider is the fact that Genie does quite literally nothing in this movie. He stays on the sidelines being comic relief. He does fight off some of the thieves here and there, but it’s nothing that couldn’t have been done with the others. The only times he ever shows off his Genie powers is just to make jokes. This movie hardly ‘stars’ Robin Williams as Genie. He honestly doesn’t even get much screentime.

Going through these posters in hindsight actually hurts a little now that Robin Williams has passed away. You really just cannot ever replace that man in more ways than one. Dan Castellenata did fine as Genie, but Robin Williams was, quite literally, the Genie. And you just can’t replicate true magic like that.

I only recently watched this movie after catching it in passing on Disney XD. I rewatched it for this review, but I remember feeling rather good about how the movie went. I really felt it was a good ending to probably the best animated series spun off from a classic Disney movie.

However, I do have my problems with it….Let’s begin.

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We start with seeing the thieves entering the palace while sneaking in through baskets on camels. We learn that Aladdin and Jasmine are finally getting married as a merchant asks the familiar royal guard about the hullabaloo. The merchant reveals himself to be the genie and he gives us our title, which turns into a burnt out neon sign. Genie then tells us that we didn’t ‘believe’ enough to make the title what it was supposed to be.

Peter Pan reference, let’s start the tally!

Disney Jokes: 1

Oh, you may be wondering what this is about. Well, you know how Genie is such a fan of making references and doing impersonations and stuff? Well, it seems like, for some reason, Genie has suddenly gotten on a huge Disney bender as he makes a lot of Disney references and impersonations in this movie. I have no clue why or if this is mirrored in the animated series, but he does.

And Genie turns into Tinkerbell to transition us to the next scene.

Disney Jokes: 2

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We get our first song, “There’s a Party Here in Agrabah” and it’s actually a pretty good and catchy song. Doesn’t have much of a point, but it’s pretty good.

Eh….I won’t count the Jafar mask towards the tally since it’s the same universe.

At the end of the song, everyone wonders where Aladdin is and we cut to Aladdin back in his old abode. He still keeps wearing his old thief garb despite being as close to a prince as he can possibly get (except now his vest has a gold trim for some reason).

Genie catches up to him and asks what he’s doing there when he should be at the wedding. Aladdin’s getting an old heirloom of his deceased father; a valuable dagger that he honestly should’ve taken with him when he moved into the palace instead of keeping it in his unsecured rat hole of a home.

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He claims he’s uneasy about getting married because it’s such a huge step in his life. He had no male role model while growing up (or…well, I guess any role model considering they killed off his mom) and doesn’t know how to raise a family. WHOA. You’re just getting married, Aladdin. Talk about kids at Disney’s next attempt to milk this franchise.

He then reprises ‘There’s a Party in Agrabah’ in a gentler tone, giving somewhat of an homage to the first movie’s ‘One Jump Ahead’ and reprise. This is also a rather nice song. Aladdin does sound odd here, though. He hasn’t changed his singing VA, but he just sounds too high pitched. Iago butts in and we go back to the more upbeat version after only seven seconds or so of gentle reprise. Hmph.

I find it funny that they keep saying ‘they’re finally getting married’ yet they’re not giving any reason whatsoever as to why they waited so long. This is probably the longest any Disney princess (who has gotten married) has ever waited to get married after meeting their love interest. And I don’t count either of the Lion King movies because they were too young when they first met to actually get married and they basically immediately got married when they reunited.

The whole jumping into marriage with a person you barely know isn’t exactly a healthy message to keep shoving into these movies, but an actual reason as to why these people, who have been engaged for years, haven’t been married yet would be nice. This is especially weird considering that one of the main plot points of the first movie was the urgent need to find Jasmine a husband.

Anyway, the thieves get into the palace and we cut back to the wedding festivities.

By the way, Genie is actually being pretty funny here as opposed to the second movie where he pretty much got annoying. I’m not sure how much adlibbing Robin is doing here. He did quite a bit in the original movie – so much so that the movie was disqualified from getting an award for best screenplay.

Hey, the Genie turned into the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland when he got behind schedule.

Disney Jokes: 3

Okay, he’s funny when he’s not Disney-fied.

The wedding starts and the sultan comes out…wearing an orange version of his regular garb for some reason. You’d think the white version would be fine for a wedding, but I guess he wanted to dress up like the Nickelodeon logo.

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Jasmine walks out and oh pretty wedding dress. They’re about to start the ceremony, but we cut back to Cassim going through with his plan. His right-hand man, Sa’luk, who doesn’t like him by the way, sends one of their elephants in to charge the place.

Genie: “Whoa, I thought the earth wasn’t supposed to move until the wedding.” Hey Disney, calm down! You already had a stripper joke earlier. You’re going to be at porn before we even get to the second act.

More elephants start wrecking the place and the thieves start robbing people blind while Cassim goes off to find something particular. Iago tries to fight him off, but gets stuffed in a bottle. Cassim finds the item, a staff of some sort, and has a tussle with Aladdin.

Hell, even Jasmine gets in a good right hook in this big thief fight. Of course, that’s downplayed by the fact that a carpet and a monkey also take some out….in fact they take out more than she does…

The genie shows off a bit to intimidate the thieves and Sa’luk says to retreat because he wasn’t aware that a genie was there…..really? It seems like his existence is no secret. In fact he shows off quite frequently in town and around the palace. I find it really hard to believe that this information never made it back to you.

Sa’luk and the others ditch Cassim while Cassim still has it out over the staff with Aladdin. However, one of the elephants charges at them. Aladdin gets out of the way with the staff while Cassim hitches a ride on the elephant and gets away, promising to return for the staff later.

As the group tries to pick up the pieces, Aladdin, Jasmine and the others try to figure out why Cassim wanted the staff so much. A voice from within the staff claims it’s because Cassim wanted to use it to find the ultimate treasure. A mysterious woman bathed in white projects from the staff and Genie claims it’s an oracle – a being who grants its users the answer to absolutely any question, but only one per person.

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Jasmine says they can use the question to figure out their futures, which is the dumbest thing you could possibly use an oracle for. Your future will come eventually, which means you’ll get the answers eventually. Why waste such an awesome ability to get something you will get in time sooner?

The only reason I could see for using the question for that is if she’s having cold feet about the wedding and wants to know if it will really work out to ensure she doesn’t make a big mistake.

However, Aladdin says he knows his future is with Jasmine (*cue ‘awwws’*) and says he wants to know about his past since his mother died when he was just a boy and he never knew his also dead dad. Aladdin says the oracle can’t help him with that because he has too many questions about his past and can’t limit it to one, but the oracle says the questions can be answered if he reunited with his father and she shows us a picture of Aladdin’s dad, Cassim. Well, hell, spoiler tags would be nice, Oracle. Dammit! He went to the trouble of wearing a mask and everything!

We get an obvious enter-commercial-break-if-this-is-airing-on-TV fade to black here after Aladdin finds out that his dad has been alive all this time.

Cut to Aladdin sulking at his old ‘house’ where Jasmine finds him to talk with him. Aladdin’s conflicted because his dad’s an asshole who left him and his mother, and now he’s thinking he shouldn’t find out anything further.

Jasmine tries to cheer him up with our movie’s romantic number ‘Out of Thin Air’, which is also pretty good and memorable but dammit all they’re not even trying to make a love song as awesome as ‘A Whole New World.’ I don’t even know why they bother if they’re not going to try. We do get to see a little boy Aladdin, so that’s something.

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At the end of the song, they decide that he should find his father so that he can get to know him and have him be at the wedding and whatnot. The oracle tells them that Aladdin’s father is ‘trapped’ by the forty thieves.

Oh come now. Really? You’re trying to pull that old Star Wars ‘well, my wording was TECHNICALLY correct’ thing? Aladdin, of course, freaks out and believes his father’s been a prisoner with the thieves for many years, but the oracle won’t answer anymore questions. Thought we made that rule pretty clear, Al.

It’s up to Aladdin to follow the trail to the forty thieves’ lair and save his father from them.

Luckily, the thieves haven’t made it back to their lair yet as Aladdin catches up to them. He thinks he has them trapped as they reach the ocean (?), but Cassim parts it. He says ‘Open Sesame’ (Which, in my opinion, sounds really silly nowadays considering how many times it’s been turned into a joke, but I understand why it’s in this movie seeing as how it’s based on Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves), a bunch of explosions happen at a bit of land across the water, a straight blast of lava goes to the shore and parts the water, making a pathway.

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The thieves follow it to their lair while Aladdin barely manages to follow.

They listen in on their meeting and, despite grabbing everything from everyone in sight and only facing minor troubles, apparently the thieves got away with absolutely nothing…Weird. Sa’luk is outraged and the other thieves are developing man-crushes on him as he opposes Cassim. Hearing his name and seeing him without his mask alerts Aladdin to the fact we already figured out ten minutes ago; Cassim, the King of Thieves, is Aladdin’s father.

Sa’luk is about to attack Cassim, but Aladdin comes out of the shadows to attack him and claims he’s Cassim’s son. Cassim picks up the dagger and stops the fighting by saying he is indeed Aladdin’s father as the dagger is proof.

However, this doesn’t settle matters for long as Sa’luk says it doesn’t matter who he is, he’s a trespasser who has seen too much of their lair and must be killed along with Iago, Abu and the carpet. Cassim, being the leader, gets the final call, but he’s being pressured by the others since they view him as merciful and weak.

In a bit of a twist, Cassim says to kill him but as Sa’luk is about to do so, he brings up another option – the challenge. It’s basically an initiation into the forty thieves. Since the number stays at forty, the only way they recruit new members is by having a potential new member fight to the death with a current member.

Sa’luk has volunteered to fight Aladdin and the battle begins. Aladdin struggles with Sa’luk for a bit and even gets injured by his brass/gold claw things. However, he unsheathes his father’s dagger and fights back. It’s actually a pretty well done fight. The visuals, coupled with the relative lack of sound beyond music is pretty impacting.

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Sa’luk throws Aladdin off a cliff, but he manages to save himself by sticking his dagger into the side of the cliff and sliding down onto another smaller ledge. Sa’Luk follows him to finish the job, but before he can, Aladdin kicks him which causes him to stumble and fall off the ledge into the water like a good Disney villain.

After defeating Sa’luk, Aladdin is welcomed into the band of forty thieves with a song, ‘Welcome to the Forty Thieves’ – a song that is also pretty good. I love Aladdin’s face through the whole thing. I imagine that’s how any normal person would look if a bunch of people, especially criminals, randomly broke out into song.

Cut to the waters below where we see that Sa’Luk has not only somehow survived, but he is also fistfighting two sharks. That seems impressive, but I just got back from watching the first episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder where Tommy kicks a T-Rex in the face….so yeah I kinda need more to be impressed at the moment.

Back at the palace, Jasmine’s getting worried. Genie tries to cheer her up by doing an impression of Mrs. Doubtfire. Get it?! Get it!? That’s a role played by Robin Williams! Robin Williams was Mrs. Doubtfire! Get it?!

He keeps trying with more impressions and more magic. He then makes the pumpkin carriage and turns Jasmine into Cinderella.

Disney Jokes: 4

He then turns Jasmine into Snow White and makes a Snow White reference.

Disney Jokes: 5

While making mock ideas for Jasmine as more girls of Disney, he shows her as Ariel,

Disney Jokes: 6

Minnie,

Disney Jokes: 7

and Jessica Rabbit.

Disney Jokes: 8

Jasmine thanks him for cheering her up and we cut back to Aladdin and Cassim as he’s showing him a secret room.

He says that he’s been searching for so long and is close to finding the legendary treasure, the Hand of Midas, which turns anything that it touches into gold. While Aladdin says it’s nothing but a myth (Dude, you’re best friends with a genie, you know a talking parrot, you ride a magic carpet as your primary mode of transportation and you’ve battled a sorcerer turned genie on two occasions. Not to mention all of the magic stuff you’ve seen in the TV series. You’re seriously going to start throwing around ‘myth’ as a derogatory term now?) Cassim shows him a sunken ship made entirely of gold that proves that the Hand is real…..he never thought to retrieve some of that gold and sell it?

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He explains how he was sick of living the life of a ‘street rat’ and longed for a better life, thus he left home to pursue the great treasure to give his wife and unborn son a better future. However, he became so consumed by his pursuit that he ended up going years without returning to Agrabah and his family. When he returned, he couldn’t find his wife, whom I guess was already dead, and figured his family was either dead or simply gone.

Aladdin says he and his mother didn’t need riches, they only needed him. (*cue more ‘awwwws’*) He invites him to the wedding, but Cassim has doubts about it since they live in two different worlds now. Iago, however, being ever so helpful, convinces him to go since he mentioned that Aladdin used the oracle to find Cassim, thus he has the oracle back at the palace and can steal it at the wedding.

We cut back to that guard guy who is being offered a chance to catch the King of Thieves by Sa’Luk by giving him the password and location of their lair.

The guard and his guard friends get to the spot where you have to open the entrance to the hideout of the forty thieves. I guess they didn’t want to animate the opening sequence again, because all we get is rumbling and we don’t get to see the path opening.

Aladdin and his dad arrive at the palace and Genie pops up again showing us his wedding stuff like a robot that’s meant to keep out people who weren’t invited. We get a REALLY forced Pocahontas reference while Genie is freaking out about the King of Thieves being in the palace.

You know how you say ‘Geronimo’ when you jump off of something or out of a plane? When the Genie clones are making their jokes about police and military being dispatched in response to Cassim being there, one says Geronimo, another says Navaho and the final one says Pocahontas while dressed as Pocahontas.

Disney Jokes: 9

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And no, there wasn’t a single frame of this shot that wasn’t frightening.

Aladdin straightens everything out between the Genie and Cassim, and Aladdin wants to introduce Cassim to Jasmine and the sultan. However, Genie doesn’t think that’s a good idea since, ya know, the King of Thieves garb and whatnot. So we make him over……*sigh* to song.

I swear no one can have a damn makeover without musical accompaniment in any movie. In addition, this is also the weakest song in the movie in my opinion. It’s not memorable and the lyrics are kinda cheesy. It’s not nearly as bad ‘There’s Nothing in the World Quite Like a Friend’ from Return of Jafar, but it’s still the weakest. It’s also odd that Genie sang both of those songs. Hm.

Of course I should mention that there’s little makeovering going on during this song. It’s like they said ‘well, we have a pretty good segue to a song, but I hate makeover songs so let’s make it something that has nothing to do with the last line being said before the song starts! Remember to practically jump cut Cassim into new clothes at the end, though!’ The song is called ‘Father and Son’ and the entire focus is just talking about how they’re going to get to do cool father-son stuff together like play sports.

Cassim meets the sultan and Jasmine and they love him because he’s so charming. They’re also under the false presumption that he was ‘trapped’ by the forty thieves. Now that the truth’s been established….that’s some real stretching the oracle was doing.

I mean the whole thing in Star Wars saying Luke’s father was dead just because Obi Wan sees it as Anakin ‘died’ when he became Darth Vader was a stretch, but it was at least passable. Cassim being ‘trapped’ by the forty thieves when he seems to adore his life as thief is a huge stretch.

Yes, he’s consumed by finding the Hand of Midas, but what was his drive to find it after losing his son and wife in the process? Just his desire to not be a poor street rat. Greed consumes him. He’s not trapped by the forty thieves; he uses them for his own purposes to get the Hand because he wants to be rich. It’s not even about the Hand entirely because he still obviously loves stealing and pulling off heists. If he’s trapped by anything, it’s his own personality flaws.

Aladdin’s happy that he has a father now and everything’s all well and good. That means this one of those telling scenes that basically says ‘yeah, but the audience knows he intends on betraying him, so we know this shot is just meant to highlight that Aladdin will be crushed when he does.’

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They even end the song on a noogie. The sheet music for this song must literally be made of cheese.

Cut back to the guards where the forty thieves have been caught, but not Cassim because he wasn’t at the hideout. One of the other guards says the sentencing of the forty thieves has to wait until tomorrow because they’re having Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding Take 2. Sa’luk tells the guards that Cassim is actually Aladdin’s father and we get eeeeeeevil smirks.

Back at the palace where the wedding is about to begin and Cassim is nowhere to be found. In order to cheer up Aladdin, Genie turns into Pumbaa and says ‘Hakuna Matata’.

Disney Jokes: 10

In the….random treasure room, Cassim and Iago are breaking into the incredibly poorly guarded and poorly locked room where the oracle is being kept. And it’s this point where I realize that his desire to get the hand is even stupider than I thought.

His son is Aladdin….who is marrying Jasmine….a princess of a whole country….which means he will eventually become sultan and have all the treasures and leisure that he could want. He’d easily be able to allow Cassim to live in the palace and get treated like royalty as long as no one found out who he really was. Iago gets treated like that, I don’t see why he couldn’t. Hell, as sultan, Aladdin could admit who Cassim is and still keep him around. He’s the goddamn sultan, bitch, who you gonna tattle to?

Why would he give that chance up for The Hand? Simple. The Hand gives the opportunity for much more money. See? It’s all about greed.

Back with Aladdin and the others, Genie wants to go out and find Cassim and he starts off by turning into Pluto (the dog).

Disney Jokes: 11

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Anyway, the guards capture him and Iago and reveal his true identity to the sultan and Jasmine while Aladdin is angry that he merely used him to get inside the palace to steal the oracle.

The lead guard who does have a name but I don’t care to learn it, says the law is crystal clear on his fate. Jasmine asks if there’s anything they can do and the sultan says no, which never ceases to piss me off.

You’re the SULTAN. YOU make the laws! You changed the law about marriage in the first movie without a thought (well, eventually, after it stopped being a plot point to have it there) yet freeing a thief from life in prison is beyond your scope of sultan powers!?

It also seems a little offset seeing as how Aladdin was going to be killed for petty thievery in the first movie while this is the king of thieves. I know Jafar made that order, but the sultan never said that wasn’t a normal punishment for thieves, just that he should’ve talked to him beforehand.

Genie: (In response to Cassim getting arrested) “There are some wishes even I can’t grant.” Really?! I thought your only restrictions were no bringing people back to life, no wishing for someone to love you, no killing and no wishing for more wishes. Freeing a thief from prison is also outside of a GENIE’S realm of power. Wow, I hate the latest Aladdin patch; everyone got nerfed.

Back at Aladdin’s favorite hiding spot, his old house, he actually says straight out that the oracle was right in saying he was trapped by the forty thieves because has trapped by his own greed…..but that’s STILL the same amount of stretching. She should’ve said “Your father’s in the lair of the forty thieves. He is trapped there.” That would’ve made it less of a leap to say he was trapped by his own greed, but she specifically said he was trapped BY the forty thieves, which makes this whole ‘trapped by greed’ thing far harder to digest. But I digress.

Aladdin sulks and says his life was perfect before his dad screwed everything up so he asks Genie to poof up the King of Thieves garb to break his dad out of prison…….I….did I skip a scene?….No…No, he just instantly goes from ‘my dad ruined my life’ to ‘I’m risking the rest of what’s left of my life and future with Jasmine to pretend to be the King of Thieves and break my deadbeat thief of a dad out of prison’.

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…Well, okay. He claims it’s to ensure that he stays out of his life, but how will breaking him out of prison ensure that? If anything, you’d think it’d be better to leave him down there because at least he wouldn’t be able to cause anymore problems.

Cut to Cassim in the dungeon and—wow, he doesn’t even get chained up as much as Aladdin did. In the first movie, Aladdin got his hands shackled above his head directly to the wall. Cassim gets handcuffs and like a whole leash of chains.

He is the king of thieves. This country practices really crappy security protocol. Sentence the petty thief to death and shackle him to the wall. Leave the priceless valuables behind an unguarded see-though gate in the palace with one lock that can be picked in less than two seconds. Sentence the King of Thieves to life imprisonment, but just give him handcuffs that have about two feet of space between the shackles and 12 feet of chains to the wall. It’ll be fine.

Aladdin breaks Cassim out of jail and makes the guards chase him so Cassim can get away. He gets away for a while by doing cool street rat parkour everyone loves to watch him do, but the lead guard guy catches him and finds out he’s really Aladdin. Cassim comes to rescue him, and they soon make it to the outskirts of town on horseback.

Cassim wants to run, but Aladdin can’t because he doesn’t want to abandon Jasmine, even if that means facing prison for freeing Cassim. They argue a bit, but part ways with Iago deciding to go with Cassim because they have the oracle and….wait, what?

They have the oracle? How? They were caught right before they stole it. Even if they did managed to steal it, the guards surely would’ve taken the staff from them the instant they caught them and before they ever managed to use it. Oh yeah, I forgot. Agrabah’s security force is about as useless as my old PHP textbook.

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Back at the forty thieves’ lair….wait, WHAT? How did they get back to the lair? They were just awaiting sentencing in prison a few minutes ago. When did they escape? How did they escape? Why would they be dumb enough to return to their lair after escaping if the royal guards know where it is and know the magic words to access it?

Ah, whatever. They wonder who told the guards about their lair and Sa’luk reappears to frame Cassim for it. The thieves don’t want to believe it because they’re loyal to their king, and the only ‘evidence’ that it was him was the fact that he knew the password to get into the lair and the guards found out. But all of the thieves know the password including the guy who hates Cassim and has been conspicuously gone for the past two days only to show up immediately after a supposed betrayal. Not going to expect the brains of a scholar in any of these thieves, but come on.

In order to convince them, we get our ‘villain’ song I guess. It’s called ‘Are You In or Out?’ which is basically the same realm of villain song as ‘You’re Only Second Rate’ from the second movie. It’s catchy and okay, but there’s no real oomph to it.

Also, he’s convincing them that he’s right and Cassim’s the one who put them in jail by breaking everything in the lair, beating the thieves up and saying Cassim was a bleeding heart? If Cassim is such a softie, why would he do something as coldhearted as betrayal?

I should also mention that it looks like, from this scene anyway, that the forty thieves got reduced to like five or seven. Where’d everyone else go?

Back with Cassim and Iago, Iago states that he doesn’t want to split even limitless treasure over forty ways, but Cassim says he’d never leave his men out because they’re family to him and he knows he could always at least count on them.

Wait, is he mad at Aladdin?….For what? He just risked his life and future to release him from prison; a prison he was only in because he’s a greedy prick, mind you. Just because he didn’t want to follow him and be on the lam for the rest of his life and give up his fiance for the sake of treasure makes him a bad son or something? Wow, you’re an ass.

They go into the back entrance of the lair or whatever that is and find themselves face to face with what’s left of the thieves, their swords and bats and Sa’luk.

Cut to the thieves on a boat in the middle of the ocean (seriously, where are the other thieves?) with Cassim and Iago tied up. They force him to ask the oracle the location of the Hand of Midas. She shows them the way and Iago manages to get away and fly off to the palace to alert Aladdin and the others.

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Back at the palace, the sultan and the head guard guy are discussing Aladdin’s crimes. And the final verdict is ‘You did it out of love, so let’s just forget about it.’…….Yeah, yeah. He has no power to keep the King of Thieves out of life in prison, but he can instantly forgive someone freeing said King of Thieves from prison because he did it out of love. I don’t understand this legal system.

Iago finds Aladdin and the others and says Sa’luk has captured Cassim. Aladdin initially doesn’t want to save him since he chose a life of crime, but we all know he’d never abandon his dad. It’d be a funnier movie if he did, though. “Your dad’s in danger!” “So what? He chose that life. Let’s get married now!” “k” The end.

They all arrive at the Vanishing Isle (location of the Hand), which is actually an underwater city built on the back of a giant turtle. The city is actually pretty impressive, but it’s fairly odd that the turtle is clearly painted and when it moves it looks really weird like a cardboard cutout. Jasmine actually kicks more thief ass (Ya know, I never realized how much I like Jasmine….When she’s actually doing stuff anyway.) and Aladdin beats up Sa’luk.

After that’s all said and done, they go off to find the Hand of Midas. You guys might want to tie up Sa’luk….Simply knocking out the villain and walking away is just asking for a rematch. Just sayin’.

They find the Hand of Midas which is actually a small golden hand being held by a statue that is floating on a giant golden hand…..*shrug* while the giant turtle dives underwater, causing the Vanishing Isle to start flooding. The first shot of the Hand is actually a really cool rotating shot and conveys the weight of the reveal quite well.

….Though, while the reveal is awesome, the Hand itself is quite….silly looking. I keep thinking of Spongebob’s Glove World flashlight when I see it.

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Aladdin jumps to the hand, retrieves it then throws it to his father, which is kinda stupid considering he knows that thing turns everything it touches into gold. This is shown when Cassim catches it in his cape, which turns into gold, but it still flows and everything so I guess gold thread for some reason. He shows off the power even more by using the Hand on the statue he’s standing on and it turns everything in the room solid gold barring the water which just looks like Sunkist.

However, that begs the question, if the power extends to everything that the object being affected is touching, wouldn’t Cassim have been turned to gold? He’s standing on the statue. He’s wearing the cape. He should be a statue himself right now.

Anyway, Sa’luk arrives and somehow also jumps on the giant golden hand and gives Cassim an ultimatum; give him the Hand of Midas or Aladdin dies. And kudos to everyone who saw this outcome coming 20 minutes ago, but Cassim agrees and throws the hand to Sa’luk. Sa’luk catches it by the hand part and not the staff part (why doesn’t the handle part turn to gold?) and he gets turned into gold and falls into waters below. I love how that entire plan relied on Sa’luk catching the Hand in the least likely fashion. What would he have done if he actually caught it by the handle?

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Also, congratulations Aladdin 3, you are one of few Disney sequels with the balls to pretty much kill off the villain. (One could argue that, like in Pokemon the First Movie, turning someone into something like rock or gold isn’t technically dying, but there’s no reversal switch for this unless a genie is able to, so I’m calling it a death.)

Aladdin wraps up the Hand in his sleeve, which turns to gold, and sticks it in his belt, also doesn’t gold-statue-ify him, so he and Cassim can escape.

Cassim’s having a hard time climbing with his gold cape so he throws it off and Aladdin and Cassim escape…..well, kinda. They just stand on top of the building they were in. Considering the reason the place was flooding was because the turtle was diving, shouldn’t they still be escaping? It’s like the turtle paused in diving for a while to let them talk.

Anyway, we get a blech-y line about how the Hand’s not the real treasure, Aladdin is, and he throws the Hand away. However, the Hand falls into the boat of the thieves and their boat turns to gold and sinks. They live, but also get left behind later so *shrug*.

Why doesn’t the ocean turn to gold?

Aladdin and the others escape on the magic carpet, but where’s the been-useless-this-entire-movie Genie? He was eaten by the turtle earlier while he was trying to ’cause a distraction’ but it didn’t seem to do anything so I dunno. And he escapes from the turtle how? I’m gonna say…Little Mermaid reference?…I doubt he’d do an Atlantis: The Lost Empire reference, so yeah Little Mermaid.

Survey Says!….

Steamboat Willie reference? Who the hell in your target audience would understand that? I mean, yeah that same cartoon was given a slot in Kingdom Hearts, but who watching this movie would really get that?

Oh and….

Disney Jokes: 12

They return to the palace, have their wedding (for the third time) and Cassim’s in the shadows watching the festivities before he goes back on the run again with Iago joining him. They head off and so do Aladdin and Jasmine on the carpet as we get a reprise of Arabian Nights which also sounds closer to the original than the second movie’s rendition did in terms of melody and tone, and the story of Aladdin ends.

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Art: The art and animation, sadly, is the same as the TV show, which equals blech. Some aspects such as the reveal of the Hand and the opening of the forty thieves’ hideout are really well done, but it’s nowhere near as fantastic as the first movie.

Music: The music fares a lot better than most other Disney sequels and is much better than the second movie’s in terms of actual quality of the songs and not earworm-ness. Apparently they made an entirely unique score to this movie as well instead of remixing the first movie’s like the second one’s did. Good on them.

Bottomline: This movie, despite its story problems, is actually a much stronger sequel than Return of Jafar in my opinion.

Most of the second movie was just dealing with Iago, which was annoying. Only the last third or so had any real interesting stuff with Jafar and even that wasn’t amazing.

This movie, while still not being fantastic, is one of the stronger Disney sequels as a whole. It has an interesting story that actually explores something that fans of the first movie may have actually wondered about instead of answering dumb questions like Disney sequels and pretty much sequels in general tend to do. I wish we would’ve explored more of Aladdin’s backstory and his relationship with his mother, though. Hell, we don’t even know how she died.

So, yeah, this is one of those Disney sequels I’d actually recommend. It’s not a masterpiece, there are several glaring continuity/storytelling problems, and I really wish they would’ve kicked up the budget for the final installment of the series since it was so good, but it still stands pretty well on its own.

….I’d still like to know why they got on a sudden Disney reference kick for this, though. There are plenty of other jokes, but they really work Disney references to the bone.

Recommended Audience: There are some sexual innuendos, but they’re pretty subtle. Some minor violence, no sex or nudity etc. 6+

Dissecting the Disquels: Brother Bear 2

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Rating: 4/10

Plot: Kenai and Koda are back, and Kenai has reunited with his old friend Nita who wants a favor. She’s trying to get married, but apparently she’s already been promised to Kenai after giving her an amulet when they were children. The great spirits support monogamy so they force Kenai and Nita to go to the place where the amulet was given to burn the amulet and break the bond between the two. However, even the simplest tasks can be complicated when love enters the picture.

Breakdown: I loved the movie Brother Bear. It’s not as dear to my heart as some other Disney movies, but I still loved it. It had wonderful visuals, a good story, mostly good characters and great music. One of the best things about Brother Bear is that it’s one of the few Disney movies to almost completely omit the subject of romance.

The main characters never fall in love, they have no romantic interests and there’s no big get together or wedding at the end. The most romance that they had in that movie was some sappy couple of bears at the salmon run that were meant to be comedy focuses, and a passing flirtation with Denahi and a couple of girls. That’s it. There was no room in Brother Bear for romance because the story was set purely on the brothers; Kenai, Denahi and Sitka and Kenai and Koda. The reason I loved that was because I am really just so sick of stories feeling like they need to shoehorn in romance into any and all storylines even if there’s no room or no point.

In this sequel, they rectify that by having the entire movie, subplots and all, be about love and marriage. Oh and brotherhood is squeezed in there somewhere. Every character that reappears in this movie gets a love interest beyond Koda, and love is shoved so far down your throat that it’s painful.

Well, let’s ruin another Disney movie for me. Welcome to Brother Bear 2.

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We start with Kenai and Koda chasing each other as the opening music plays. The music’s somewhat reminiscent of the original movie’s, but noticeably different. The opening song, Welcome to this Day, pales in comparison to Great Spirits. Right from the start you can tell we’re in for a romance themed movie with swans making a heart shape with their necks to happy little goat parents watching their children.

Why hasn’t Koda grown….at all? In the least? It’s an entirely new year, yet he’s not even slightly bigger.

While one has not changed at all, the other has changed quite a bit as Kenai has had a voice change in this movie. I understand when they can’t get back original voice actors for sequels, especially direct to DVD ones, but Patrick Dempsey sounds nothing like Joaquin Phoenix.

They’re on their way to some ridge for the spring equinox to get all sorts of different berries to eat.

We have a short run-in with Tug, the big bear from the last movie voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan, who is really only there to plant the idea of romance into Kenai’s head by talking about his girlfriend. Kenai says they don’t need anyone else, but is clearly speaking with a bittersweet taste in his mouth.

We cut to a dream sequence that Kenai is having about a childhood experience. He and Nita were playing around in the snow using spears as pole vaults until Nita stuck the spear in too close to the edge of a floating piece of ice and fell into the water.

She’s saved by Kenai, who brought her up to the top of the nearby waterfall to warm up….What an awful place to warm up. The water rushing in front of the cave has to make it even more freezing in there than it is outside. As Nita tried to keep warm, Kenai gave her an amulet that he had been wearing and they drew stick figure drawings of each other on the cave wall. Nita’s father appeared on a boat below and she left never to see Kenai again I guess.

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….Well, there’s your big story behind this character and the amulet. Real impressive, huh? Also, simply giving a girl, especially when you’re children, a wooden amulet is an instant promise of eternal bond? Meanwhile, we cut to another Inuit village where Nita is getting ready for her wedding.

The first scene with Nita is very reminiscent of the scene in Mulan that starts the “Bring Honor to us All” song. She has two women who are never given names or explanations as to who they are to her clamoring over her every detail for the wedding. She tricks them into leaving as she puts on her wedding dress, which is the last thing that she has left of her mom. Oh yeah here’s something Disney doesn’t do very often, Nita’s mother is DEAD! Whawhawhaaaaa?

Her father comes in to talk to her before he gives her away saying how her mother would be proud and whatnot and they walk down the aisle.

It’s here where we see our first and practically only glimpse of Nita’s fiancee, Atka. He stands at the altar and gets no lines. There’s your characterization, people.

However, the great spirits will have none of that and send their mighty wrath upon the wedding by shooting down a lightning bolt which cracks the ground between the bride and groom. The villagers see this as a sign from the great spirits and we cut to Nita meeting with a shaman about what to do about it.

She’s played by Wanda Sykes, because God forbid we just have serious characters. She invokes the powers of the great spirits who tell her that Nita has already been promised to another in the form of an amulet. In order to break the bond between the two, the couple must go to where the promise originated and burn the amulet. Nita tells the shaman that Kenai’s a bear now. How she knows that is unknown. Maybe village to village gossip? So even if she found him she wouldn’t be able to talk to him.

Also, remember how the spirits were the ones who changed Kenai into a bear? Remember how none of the characters had magical powers? Well, now we have a shaman who has the power to talk to the spirits whenever she wants and give people the ability to talk to animals. Hell, even the village elder from the first movie couldn’t understand what Kenai was saying when he got turned into a bear or do magic stuff. But screw that, we need to speed this movie up so ✮ MAGIC✮ ✸!!

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She sets off on a journey to find Kenai an– are you kidding me? Not even a minute after she learns that she has to find Kenai….a bear….in the vast wilderness…..she finds, you guessed it, Kenai! In a scene that is reminiscent of when Nala finds Simba from TLK…She’s seen as a hunter by the boys and Kenai tries to protect Koda by attacking her, but finds that it’s Nita and puts her down.

Nita and Kenai reunite for a bit before she explains that she needs his help to burn the amulet that he gave her so that she can get married.

Kenai obviously feels a bit hurt that Nita wants to burn the amulet that he gave her when they were kids and refuses to go with her. She says that neither of them can go on with their lives if they don’t do this, but he still refuses.

….Wait, why can’t he go on with his life? He’s been doing just fine so far. It’s not like bears get married. But she, for some reason, brings up that the great spirits might turn Kenai back into a human again for some reason to help her burn the amulet.

…..What? How?…What? He’s not a bear under punishment anymore. He became a bear of his own volition. Even if they did offer that, why would he care? Unless…..wait, are they using his relationship to Koda as leverage? Are they technically keeping Koda hostage away from Kenai unless he agrees to help? Wow, that’s kinda awful, spirits and Nita.

Koda, hearing this, worries that they won’t be brothers anymore if they do turn him back. So, in order to sate Koda’s worries, he agrees to go to the waterfall to burn the amulet. Flimsy plotpoints are on buffet right now.

The boys and Nita run into the moose Rutt and Tuke, the comic relief from the previous movie, as they’re also on a mission of love. They’ve been trying to find mates, but the girl moose that they’ve found won’t give them the time of day. Kenai agrees to help them by pretending to attack while Rutt and Tuke pretend to save the girls and win their hearts.

It ends up in an awkward to watch scene where both Kenai and Rutt and Tuke fail miserably at their roles. Kenai does an embarrassing job trying to attack, which is odd because he’s shown that he can seem threatening, and Rutt and Tuke actually end up getting so scared by Kenai’s lame acting that they fall into the river and float away. I get that the scene was meant to be lame, but that was painful.

Kenai ends up getting kicked into a hollow log by the girl moose before they leave as well. In an attempt to get Kenai unstuck from the log, we realize that Nita has a fear of water ever since she nearly drowned as a child. She loses her bag containing the amulet in the river and is too scared to simply lean over and grab it from the water. She has a fit as the bag starts to float away and breaks the log that Kenai was stuck in as she yells at him to retrieve it for her. It goes over a waterfall, but quickly ends up on shore, somehow. As she breathes a sigh of relief, a comic relief raccoon comes over, sifts through her bag and steals the amulet. Why? Because padding.

I’m just now realizing that Kenai doesn’t have his totem around his neck. It was given back to him at the end of the first movie. What happened to it?

Anyway, Kenai, feeling guilty for apparently being responsible for her losing the necklace, goes off in the middle of the night to find the raccoon. He spends all night tracking it down and then Nita barges in and climbs the tree when Kenai was waiting for the raccoon to fall asleep to take it without bothering them. That’s the way to repay someone for doing a favor to you and working their ass off all night; by doing your best to ruin their hard work and not thanking them at all.

She makes too much noise and alerts the raccoon. He doesn’t notice Nita, but sees the boys. They ask for the necklace back as Nita tries to retrieve it herself. He then calls on his raccoon brethren of about 100 friggin’ raccoons as backup. What exactly happened to everything being afraid of this BEAR? The raccoons pelt him with pinecones until Kenai offers a trade. He has nothing to trade, but Nita has the amulet so who cares?

However, there’s a baby raccoon clinging to the necklace. She shoos him off, but then he cries for his mommy, which alerts the raccoons to Nita’s presence and they start chasing her. I should also mention that this scene is very reminiscent of the scene in Tarzan where Jane makes a baby monkey cry because she shoos it off of something she wants and then is chased by hundreds of monkeys. What is going on in this movie? There are so many scenes seemingly taken from other Disney movies, yet the movie itself is boring as hell.

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Kenai tells her to climb to the top of the tree while all of the raccoons follow her. He advises her to let go because he’ll catch her and they send the raccoons flying while sending themselves flying into a snowbank. Then they speak a mile a minute about what just happened while ending on how amazing the other is in a scene that is very reminiscent of a scene in a fellow Disney sequel, Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure. Really, what is going on?

We’re at the halfway point in the movie and I’m still failing to get into it. Nita’s really annoying. She’s pushy, whiny, selfish and just an overall chore to watch. Koda’s annoyed me since the first movie and he’s no better here. Kenai’s okay, but his different voice and constant slapstick gags get old fast. The subplot with Rutt and Tuke is just embarrassing to watch. I didn’t mind them much in the first movie, but they’re pretty awful here. They’re there to push the message of love and extend the running time. That’s about it.

As for the plot, it’s very thin. It’s obvious as hell that Nita’s not going to end up marrying Atka especially since he’s not even a character so much as a picture with a name. He has no personality and no dialogue thus far. She’s gonna fall for Kenai and, if that shaman was any indication, she’ll likely get turned into a girl bear and they’ll live happily ever after.

Anyhoo, we meet back up with Rutt and Tuke who are still trying to court the girl moose. They’re rubbing themselves with dead leaves mud and, thanks to a prank from Tuke, poop, in order to attract them with scent.

Poop jokes? Really? That’s what we’re reduced to? Thanks, Disney.

Kenai tells them that he has another idea, but Nita explains that his last plan sucked. Kenai then decides to brush off the whole situation and go to the falls, but Nita decides that she wants to stay which is completely against the way that she has been acting this entire time. She’s been hell-bent on burning that amulet at the falls since she arrived, not willing to put up with any nonsense that interrupts them. Now she wants to delay her trip?

Nita sends Koda out to the girls to act all cute and cuddly even though bears, ya know, eat moose. They’re all in love with the little guy and Koda says that he’s playing hide and seek with his two best friends. Rutt and Tuke then come out asking if they’ve seen their bear friend. Koda comes out and they act all cute with him, tickling him and laughing and whatnot.

The girls are all impressed with how good they are with the kid. They finally look like they’re going to get a date, but Rutt, for reasons beyond my understanding, suddenly blurts out poetry which makes him look like an idiot. Tuke knocks him down and walks way with both girls stating that his brother was hit on the head as a child and Rutt runs to follow. Bros before hoes doesn’t apply to moose apparently.

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Here’s my entry in the ‘most photogenic moose’ contest.

Nita and Kenai basically flirt about how she was able to hook them up but he wasn’t and they ignore Koda’s pleas for attention at impressing them with how good he acted during the plan.

Kenai explains that the falls are close as they only have to go a short ways and cross the river to get there by lunchtime the next day. Obviously the whole water-phobia thing comes into play so Nita suggests that instead of going through the river that they climb a bunch of mountains and crap to avoid it.

Kenai and Koda practically laugh at the stupid route she has suggested and they vote to go their way, but she refuses like a stubborn child. Koda flips a fish out of the river for lunch which lands in Nita’s hands and makes her fall into the river. She flips out and immediately makes her way to shore.

Koda believes that she’s afraid of fish so Kenai and Koda quickly start laughing at her for it. Koda even takes the fish that he caught and does a puppet show about how scared she is of fish.

Wow, how completely insensitive and assholeish of you guys. First of all, she’s freaked out at the concept of water three times by now. That’s not a big enough hint that she’s afraid of water?

Second, even if she was afraid of fish, that’s no reason to act like an ass.

Third, this water-phobia thing is getting old, and it doesn’t even make complete sense. I can understand if she didn’t display outright signs of trauma after she was rescued as a child, but she left that scene ON A BOAT! If she’s so traumatized by water to the point where she won’t even lean over and grab a really important bag out of a slow as hell moving river, how did she easily get into a boat and paddle away? She’s so scared of water I really have to wonder how she handles bathing or gentle rainshowers.

Kenai realizes that they’re upsetting her, so he yells at Koda to stop it. He doesn’t explain why, especially since he was laughing with him a minute ago; he just sighs in disappointment and goes to comfort Nita. He apologizes, and she explains her phobia of water and how she can’t go through the river because of it. Kenai says that they got through this much together so they’ll get through that together as well.

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Thus begins the ‘Koda Neglect montage’. Basically we have a montage of Nita and Kenai flirting and having fun together as they travel, while Koda is either treated like crap or completely ignored the entire way. Kenai stops Koda from walking on a log bridge to let Nita go first, he and Nita completely block Koda’s view of a mama bird feeding her baby birds, they nearly KILL HIM by not noticing or caring when he nearly falls off of a mammoth that they’re riding, barely able to hold onto the tail, and every other scene Koda shows him being completely ignored.

The song accompanying this montage is also okay, but it’s not very memorable.

The montage ends upon reaching the riverside. Kenai gives her a ride on his back to cross the river, and after going under the water and seeing turtles, she’s completely over her fear of water to the point where she actually gets off Kenai and swims to shore on her own.

What utter and complete bull. Yes, facing your fears helps you get over them, but a quick dip in the river and seeing some turtles shouldn’t be enough to completely cure you of a crippling phobia that you’ve had since you were a child that was caused by a traumatic near-death experience. It’s also a completely anticlimactic and stupid end to that insipid plotpoint.

Kenai and Nita walk away on the other side of the river, and Koda watches them with sadness as he continues to get ignored. They’ve been ignoring him in his entirety all day. I’d be surprised if they even realize he’s still traveling with them. What a good big brother Kenai turned out to be.

As Koda broods, we get another appearance by Rutt who has also been ditched by his brother for those floozies from before. He tells Koda to watch out because his brother might do the same thing to him. Rutt and Tuke; good for stupid comic relief and giving awful messages to children.

Koda doesn’t believe that Kenai would ever ditch him, but obviously has doubts.

Koda crosses the river and eavesdrops on Kenai and Nita who are laughing and talking by a fire not even realizing that Koda could’ve drowned behind them eons ago and no one would’ve been the wiser. I have a feeling these two are somehow the ancestors of the parents from Rugrats.

Nita asks Kenai if he’s ever considered going back to being a human. He says that he’s thought about it and before you can say ‘obvious misunderstanding’, Koda interrupts and says that he is going to leave him for Nita and become a human again and he runs away. Kenai and Nita sit on their asses long enough for him to get a good head start.

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So yeah now they’re ripping off their own movie. Koda ran away in the last movie too, also in the snowy mountains.

Kenai and Nita search for him by following his tracks in the snow. Even though Kenai showed amazing tracking skills with those raccoons, he completely misses the footprint that leads into an ice cave, but Nita finds it. She also fails to tell Kenai because the plot said that Nita and Koda needed to have a heart to heart.

Nita finds Koda hiding in a hole in the wall of the ice cave and tries to bring Koda back, claiming it’s not safe, but he refuses. As the cave starts to collapse, he jumps into Nita’s arms. Well, that’s kinda what she meant by unsafe….

They manage to escape, but Koda gets pinned under a bunch of ice. Nita saves him, but flings them over the cliff in the process. They dangle over the edge while an avalanche occurs due to the collapse. They somehow ride the broken cliff piece on top of the avalanche (rocks do that?) but inevitably get buried. Kenai spots them and surprisingly only yells out Koda’s name. As he digs them out, again, all he says is Koda’s name. Ya know, you can show concern for both of them. There’s no need to play favorites just because Koda overreacted prematurely and you’re a terrible brother.

Koda explains that he believes Kenai’s going to leave him to go off with Nita and become human. He said he does miss being human, but they’re brothers and he’d never leave him. If Koda had just let Kenai finish his sentence before, this whole thing could’ve been avoided….

Hearing this, Nita gets all whiny. How did we go from constant slapstick and stupidity to butthurt city and stupidity?

We cut back to Rutt and Tuke where they’re watching the northern lights. Rutt’s off on his own while the girls are cuddling with Tuke. Tuke asks Rutt to get them some twigs and Rutt chokes back tears and agrees to go. Hearing that he’s crying, the girls instantly gravitate to his sensitivity and cuddle with him. These girls are more easily swayed than girls who thrive on teen romance novels. Oh you’re good with kids!?

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They reach the falls and see the lights as they prepare to view the spring equinox.

Oh did I forget to mention that in this universe the spring equinox is a magical event made by the great spirits? It happens in an instant. Yup, the great spirits turn winter into spring in mere moments, melting feet of snow, growing grass, blooming flowers and more. Because gradually doing that stuff over the course of a few weeks wouldn’t have meshed well with the movie.

Koda brings up connecting with his dead mom through the lights as Nita mentions her dead mom as well. We get some cliché line about how you don’t need to see the spirits to know that the people that you have lost and are gone are within your heart forever. The speech couldn’t be more cliché if it were on a Hallmark card.

Despite this talk about spirits and dead relatives and this being called BROTHER Bear, I guess dead brothers need not apply to this conversation because Kenai never brings up his dead brother from the previous movie, Sitka.

The guy dies for you, turns you into a bear to teach you a life lesson, and is a friggin’ eagle, which is awesome, yet you can’t even give him a verbal cameo? Nice. I will give some slack here as to why Kenai’s other brother, Denahi, makes no appearance as his voice actor committed suicide before this movie was created. However, he can still be mentioned.

They start the burning and the lights vanish. After the amulet is gone, Nita tries to talk to the boys, but find that the spell broke with the burnt amulet. This creates a mirror of the same scene from the last movie where Kenai becomes human and is hurt when he can’t understand Koda’s words. She tearfully says goodbye while Kenai and Koda simply roar and grunt at her.

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We get our first sad song as they go their separate ways. It’s actually a very good song. Much more memorable than the songs we’ve been given. It has a nice somber tone and melody that fits the mood right. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as “No way out” but I’d still download it.

Koda and Kenai reach some food while Nita reunites with her family and prepares for her wedding.

Koda talks with Kenai about Nita. He asks if her gave her the amulet because he loved her and he says it was a long time ago so it doesn’t matter. Kenai goes off to sleep to get to the ridge with all the berries that they were going to early in the morning.

Koda speaks to the spirits, moreso his mom, telling her that he’ll be fine on his own and that they should turn Kenai back into a human so that he can be happy. The spirit lights….flicker for some reason and we cut to Kenai waking up. They kinda trick you into thinking that the spirits did turn him back, but he’s still a bear. Rutt and Tuke inform him that Koda ran off to find Nita and bring her back to him to make him happy. Kenai freaks out because Koda will be killed by hunters the instant that he sets foot in the village.

We cut to Nita getting ready for her wedding again. She’s having doubts this time and tells her father than she can’t marry Atka. Aw, but we got to know him so well and fell in love with him during that 32 seconds of screentime with no dialogue or backstory. And we know she truly loves him because she never talks about any aspects of him whatsoever and really never brought him up at all.

They’re interrupted by screams as Koda runs around being chased by the villagers. Nita tries to stop them to no avail. We finally get dialogue from Atka a full hour into this hour and 13 minute long (including credits) movie. However, we don’t learn much about him besides he’s like every man in the village in that if a bear entered it, they’d want to kill it. Kenai bursts onto the scene roaring to get them away from Koda. They run away with Kenai getting grazed on the back by a spear, but don’t worry, the wound’s gone mere seconds later. Continuity!

Kenai sticks Koda in a tree and tells him to stay low while he drives them away. Despite doing his best to hide, other hunters catch Koda anyway while laughing like stereotypical villains.

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Rutt and Tuke surprisingly show up to save the day, but end up getting caught up in a tree as they try to jump on the hunters. Conveniently, the tree breaks and falls on the hunters, leaving Koda unharmed and the girls once again impressed.

Kenai tries to run away from Atka, but he can’t shake him. Kenai jumps onto a cliff, and Atka throws his torch on it to spook him while jumping on him with his spear. The two fight while Nita catches up to them. She tries to get them to stop, but only Kenai does. Atka throws the torch in Kenai’s face and pushes him over the edge of the cliff. I guess this scene could resemble the scene in the Lion King where Scar did the same thing, but not exactly.

Nita scolds Atka for what he’s done and goes to Kenai’s aid. Yes, Atka. You’re awful for doing what you were taught to do your entire life and has never been seen as wrong until this very moment since the bear was your fiancee’s friend. Oh and protecting the village from what appeared to everyone else as a violent rampaging bear. You bastard!

Nita and Koda go to Kenai’s side. He’s supposedly hurt but I don’t see how. Koda and Kenai are still speaking to each other in roars and grunts since Nita can’t understand them. It’s odd. This scene is the only emotional scene to me only because of the subtlety involved with not being able to understand them.

Kenai puts out his paw and Nita matches it with her hand, again, like Tarzan, and Kenai puts it to his heart to say ‘I love you.’ Eugh. Nita admits her love for him too and the great spirits make a cameo again. Apparently they’re loading the ‘Make Kenai human’ program as Koda tells them what he asked them to do and that it’s okay because he just wants Kenai to be happy again. Kenai tells Nita that he can’t become human and leave Koda, but Nita tells him that she can join him instead – BOOM! CALLED IT! NITA → BEAR RESOLUTION! *cough* Excuse me. I like making movie predictions.

Nita’s father comes and asks her if this is what she truly wants. She says yes and he gives her his blessing. What a cool dad. Interracial marriage still isn’t cool to some people, but he’s letting his daughter turn into a bear to marry a bear. We can all learn a lesson here, people. It involves bestiality in some way I think, but it’s still an important lesson to learn.

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Also, since when do people order the spirits around? Last I checked, they do what they want when they want unless they feel like giving you a choice. What, is Koda’s mom pulling strings up there?

I’m sorry to say that, while the intro almost sounds like a remix, we don’t get a reprise of Transformation from the last movie, which sucks because that’s one of my favorite instrumental songs in the Disney franchise. Instead we get some mish mash dramatic music that sounds cobbled together. Sad. Face. 😦

Nita looks….kinda weird as a bear and we cut to their bear wedding with bear friends and the village merging together. Right, the villagers who were laughing maniacally at catching a bear cub are now cheering at a bear wedding. Okay, movie. Atka’s nowhere to be found here, by the way. I guess he got burned at the stake for trying to kill a bear which is now seen as a friend. Damn that bastard who only got about two minutes of total screen time and about two full lines!

This is a legit issue with me though because we’re left thinking that Atka’s an asshole when he’s supposedly a really nice and honorable guy. They could’ve resolved this a lot better. Have Atka be understanding like a good friend. If Nita really did love him enough to go through all this to marry him, he can’t be all that bad.

Surprisingly, Eagle-Sitka does make a brief appearance at the very end though.

The raccoons from before are also there to cheer them on for reasons beyond my understanding. Why would you cheer on characters that stole what you believed was your stuff and flung you across the forest by a tree?

We end on the great spirits changing the cave wall drawing of Kenai and Nita as humans together to bears. Because little details like that need to be changed by great and powerful spirits.

The end.

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Wow was that a big disappointment. To it’s credit, they could’ve done a lot worse, but what they did do still wasn’t really good. The movie’s a bore. It’s predictable as hell, the tone is so much more different than the original, Kenai and Nita’s backstory as well as the story of Atka and Nita aren’t fleshed out enough or, in the latter’s case, at all.

Why did Kenai love her back then? Because they played for a minute and he rescued her as she almost drowned? Why were they best friends? What did that amulet mean to Kenai? He’s the one who was wearing it before he gave it to Nita. It must’ve meant something to him. What was the story with Atka? Was it an arranged marriage thing like Pocahontas and Kokoum? What’s his backstory? How’d she meet him? Does he have any form of personality beyond hunting and standing at the altar? Why’d she never see Kenai again after that incident at the falls? How’d her mom die?

This is one of those movies that had nothing to really build on. The story decisively concluded. You could’ve done something with it, but why’d they have to go the cliché angle of making a sequel for the sake of giving everyone a love interest? Except Koda, I guess, but now he has an older sister/mom figure.

Brother Bear is really a movie that shouldn’t have been built on, however. Other than possibly showing us a grown-up Koda having some adventure or learning an important life lesson, there’s just not much to be done here. The story has a solid beginning, middle and most of all, end. No one was yearning for Kenai to get married after that.

Nita is annoying during the first half, but gets gradually more tolerable as time goes on. I never reach a point where I actually like her, but she was reaching good annoyance levels in the first half, so at least she avoided the dangers of my wrath.

On a technical aspect, the art and animation is very good for a Disquel, even if they seem to be going overboard with the color saturation, but not quite as good as the previous movie. It’s Direct-to-Dvd-ish while not being TV-series-ish like Hunchback or Aladdin. Also, we don’t have nearly as many epic views or sights to look at, if any, during this movie unlike the first one where practically everything was gorgeous.

The music was also better than most Disney Sequels, but nothing particularly memorable to me outside of that one sad song. Phil Collins doesn’t return to do anymore work on this movie, which is disappointing.

The acting is good, but I can’t mesh Patrick Dempsey with Kenai. He just doesn’t sound right.

Bottomline: As a movie, it’s just okay. As a Disquel, personally, I’d skip it, especially if you were a fan of the previous movie. It’s a predictable, confusing and lifeless movie meant to shoehorn in some love stories into the Brother Bear universe. The writing’s not very good and there are many scenes that seem almost ripped directly from other Disney movies. It has some moments that are legitimately good, and it didn’t make me seriously angry, but it’s absolutely nothing that you’d need to watch unless you like watching Mary Sue Disney fanfiction come to life. It could’ve been much worse, but I still can’t recommend it.

Recommended Audience: I think we actually get a fairly subtle sex joke. At the beginning of the movie, Rutt and Tuke are being chased by a buffalo or something while looking for a mate and Rutt says that she looked like a moose from behind….yeah. Other than that, it’s your basically sterile Disney sequel. 5+