Aardman’s Clay: Shaun the Sheep Movie Review

Plot: Tired of the monotony of life on the farm, Shaun and his fellow sheep concoct a plan to have a nice day off with their farmer being none the wiser. When their little stunt ends up sending their farmer to the big city with a case of amnesia, Shaun, Bitzer the dog, and the other sheep head off to bring him back while doing everything they can to avoid the malicious animal control officer.

Breakdown: I’m extremely unfamiliar with Shaun the Sheep. I’ve never seen the TV series or the shorts and I’m only barely familiar with Wallace and Gromit, the show from which Shaun is based. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

First thing you’ll note about this movie is that it is entirely dialogue-free. The animals don’t talk and the human characters ‘speak’ in intelligible murmurs. From my understanding, this is the same way in the TV series, but that decision was made for practical purposes. They didn’t have to keep it silent in the movie because they had the budget for it, but they decided to keep it silent for the sake of not disappointing people who were used to the TV show’s format. I greatly applaud this decision, even though I don’t know of the show myself. I think this movie works perfectly well silently. Dialogue would have tainted its charm quite a bit, if you ask me.

The models and animation are all very well done. Some really high-quality stop-motion work by Aardman yet again. I really like that all of the sheep have actual wool (cotton, I guess) on them instead of molding the clay to look like wool. The hair and clothes also look real and move well within their environments. The expressions and movements are well animated without being too over the top, which is key in a movie that relies solely on visual gags and slapstick.

The soundtrack was also very nice. There were many really catchy and fitting tracks that I greatly enjoyed.

The story is probably the only semi-weak part of the movie. The general beats are very predictable, and I was predicting the smaller beats very easily too. However, that’s not really a problem with this type of movie. You don’t really need some overly complex, groundbreaking or hard-hitting narrative to make an enjoyable movie. The story is simple, but the characters, gags and even the emotional moments make up for it in spades.

I loved the relationships between all of the characters, especially between Bitzer/Shaun, Shaun/Timmy (the baby lamb) and the farmer and the animals. Even though Bitzer and Shaun are kinda at odds with each other, they do hold a mutual respect for one another and work well together. Shaun in his big brother role with Timmy was adorable. And the farmer being a father figure to all of the animals was really sweet. The first thing he did when he regained his memory was give Bitzer and Shaun kisses on the foreheads, and that just warmed my heart.

I will say the animal control officer, Trumper, is the one aspect that kinda fell flat with me. He started out as just a normal animal control officer who took pride in his job, and I was pretty cool with that. A lot of family movies with animal main characters tended to make the animal control officer this ridiculously evil guy who despised animals and had some huge vendetta against the main cast, so just seeing a normal guy doing his job was refreshing.

That didn’t last long.

He went from fairly normal to the typical crazed chase scene starter quite quickly. The first red flag was him kicking down a sign for the pound’s adopt-a-pet day, which is quite confusing. He hates these animals, but he doesn’t want them to get adopted? That would mean he hates them so much that he wants to see them all rot in this place and never find happy homes, which is quite disturbing.

Next, he just decides to walk down the corridor of the animal cages purely to mock them. He walks by Shaun and starts mockingly ‘baa’-ing at him. Then he visits the stray dog, Slip, who is just minding his business eating his food. Trumper starts mocking the way he eats and even starts sloppily munching on chips in front of him to mock him further. Like, dude, get a life.

After that, he continues to go off the rails until he’s a full-on lunatic bordering on supervillain. He’s gearing up in special animal-catching gadgets and doing everything he can to catch these sheep. You’d think he’d stop chasing them once they reach the farm, but no. He’s so intent on getting these sheep that, even back on the farm and holed up in a shed, the guy still won’t stop and even intends on KILLING THEM. He picks up the shed with a tractor and drives it to a quarry to dump it in and kill them all. He does get his comeuppance in the end, of course, but wow.

Overall, this was a very fun movie that had me smiling consistently and even laughing out loud on more than one occasion. There are plenty of funny visuals gags and physical comedy to give anyone a giggle. It also got to me a little with the emotional bits. When Shaun finds the farmer, but he shoos him away because he doesn’t remember him, I felt so bad for Shaun, Bitzer and the others. Especially considering that, for a while, they didn’t understand that he had amnesia. They just thought he straight-up hated them.

I’m really looking forward to checking out the sequel, Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon, later on, and maybe I’ll even see if I can check out the TV series.


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Pixar’s Lamp | The Incredibles (2004) Review

Plot: In the golden age, superheroes were loved, admired and cherished by the masses. However, one lawsuit started a snowball effect that changed everything. Supers were suddenly vilified, and they had to go into hiding with government protection to avoid all of the backlash. Now living as normal, average citizens, Mr. Incredible and Elistigirl, also known as Bob and Helen Parr, try to raise their children, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack in a superpower-free world.

Bob is not content with his normal life and wants nothing more than to return to his good ol’ days of heroism. A mysterious message puts all the cogs in motion to grant his wish, but he forgot that with heroics comes danger – and danger means more when your family’s in the crossfire.

Breakdown: The year is 2004.

Marvel cinematic universe? Doesn’t exist.

DC actively trying? FEH!

This is an era where superhero movies are little more than a joke. People looked forward to them about as much as they looked forward to video game adaptations. They’d try and try again to make them work, and while they may be a box office success sometimes, they’d usually wane heavily in the critic department.

Pixar saw this as an opportunity. The Incredibles is not based on an existing comic book. It’s entire universe is built from the ground up on the silver screen. In addition, it’s animated – not live-action as a majority of superhero movies were at the time. In hindsight, this seems like a big gamble. Especially since the director, Brad Bird, was coming fresh off of his first venture into directing, which ended up being a box office disappointment.

But some people need to be reminded to keep the faith. After all, that box office disappointment….was The Iron Giant. The box office does not always reflect quality.

Let’s not keep beating around the bush. The Incredibles is……incredible. Yeah, I made that joke. Fight me.

From start to finish, the movie is filled with great humor, fantastic action, memorable characters and pokes at the superhero genre as a whole. This is a very realistic family in a, well, I can’t really say ‘unique scenario’ because the concept has been done before (In fact, when this first came out, this movie reminded me quite a bit of the short-lived, basically forgotten Nickelodeon series, The X’s.), but it is a very interesting and fun scenario.

Back in ‘the good ol’ days,’ superheroes were always hailed, respected and beloved, but you know that some jackass somewhere would ruin it by suing them. Granted, superheroes do make big messes and wrack up massive bills in damages, even the MCU addresses this, but I think whatever damage the enemy would do is almost always greater. And at least we’re lead to assume that the heroes aren’t piling up huge body counts during these battles….most of the time.

The heroes go into hiding, and there seems to be two sides to this coin. You have people like Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Dash who want to embrace their powers and be heroes. Because they’re not allowed to do so, Bob becomes very depressed and withdrawn, doing heroics in secret whenever he can with his buddy Frozone, and Dash acts out.

Helen (Elastigirl) and Violet, on the other hand, want to be normal. They still use their powers sometimes in private, but they want to fit in – Helen so she can protect the family and Violet because she wants to be a regular teenager.

In the end, they all find a middleground. Bob gets to be a hero more often, but he also comes to understand the importance of his family. Dash learns to tone it down, but he’s also now allowed to participate in school sports as long as he doesn’t play unfairly. Violet gets more self-confidence and embraces her powers. And Helen learns to not be ashamed of her life as a superhero while also encouraging that type of attitude in her kids.

It’s great that they chose to go down this route instead of having it black and white ‘this side is right, and you’re wrong.’

Helen and Bob have a great dynamic, and even Violet and Dash were really good together. I like how they eventually used their powers together. That hamster-ball idea was so cool.

Another thing to commend this movie on is, most of the time, they don’t pull any punches with the darker aspects. Helen even outright tells her children, basically telling the audience directly, that these bad guys aren’t like the ones you’d see on Saturday morning cartoon shows. They won’t show restraint on children. They will kill them without hesitation. That’s pretty heavy for an animated superhero movie in a world where kid deaths are typically taboo.

In addition to that, people attempt suicide, there’s hints of adultery and alcohol, some sexual-ish content and lots and lots of death.

Even though I said they don’t cause a lot of civilian deaths, there are a ton of bad-guy minion deaths – a good deal of which are caused by Bob and Dash. They don’t ‘directly’ cause these deaths. For instance, nearly all of the deaths caused by Dash are collisions caused by those pursuing him because he managed to out-maneuver them, but still…lots of bodies.

The ones they seem directly responsible for they kinda skirt around. For instance, Bob throws a huge tram car at two guys from a mile away and they specifically show them moving and groaning to assure the audience that Bob didn’t straight-up murder those guys.

Outside of that, we also have numerous depictions of heroes dying in that ‘NO CAPES!’ montage, including one of two instances where someone dies by getting sucked into a jet turbine. Yugh. And we have the harrowing fact that Syndrome essentially committed hero genocide, which I don’t think is given quite enough weight, but holy crap. Bob even finds the skeletal remains of one of the killed heroes and hides under his body to trick Syndrome into believing he’s dead. Wow.

Speaking of Syndrome, he’s a very effective and memorable villain. He’s very intimidating and is a serious threat. Lest we forget the hero genocide. His backstory is a little hokey, but not too bad. It’s understandable for someone who grew up in a world of supers and was basically a super fanboy to become jaded when given a massive tongue lashing by his favorite superhero. And he obviously did have value and talent, but Bob never wanted to give him a chance. He pulls off being both funny and threatening at the same time, which is very impressive. In any other movie, he’d be a complete joke, but he can be downright scary. It’s also a bit refreshing for the master plan to not be ‘take over the world’ again. Though, considering his normal job, maybe he already does, in a way. Hm.

His plan is fairly brilliant. Design a robot that is essentially perfect by having it learn and make changes to its design based on battles it endures with hundreds of various heroes. Kill the heroes, let the robot loose on the city, stop the robot and take the credit, making him the only and, by default, best hero in the world.

I will admit that the method of defeating the robot is a bit obvious, though. With all the weaknesses that have been exposed on this thing, Syndrome never thought to program it to not destroy itself? Especially when that’s exactly how Bob defeated it the first time? It has some sense of self-preservation, hence why it targeted the remote, but it’s still too stupid to not hit itself.

Some final things that I felt were a little negative in this movie:

I find Dash to be annoying 70% of the time.

While I really liked him, Frozone was mostly a superfluous character who barely did anything. I really wanted him to be given more to do.

I worry that, should they continue the series beyond the second movie, Jack-Jack will be too powerful. His main power seems to be shapeshifting, but from what I’ve heard he has many more powers that are revealed in the sequel (sadly haven’t gotten around to watching it quite yet, but very soon!)

His power is apparently that he’s a ‘jack of all trades,’ hence the name, but it’s also been suggested that, since Jack-Jack’s a baby, his power isn’t solidified and he has ‘unlimited potential,’ which is culminating in this mass array of powers. However, if that were true, that seems like it would be a normal part of a super’s life cycle. Dash and Violet would’ve had to have gone through the same thing as babies, which I doubt they did.

I dunno.

That’s about it on the negative side, though, and that’s not a significant mark on an otherwise exceptional movie. The Incredibles stands as one of my favorite movies and a testament to Pixar’s amazing talents as filmmakers. Even today in our saturated superhero movie market, I was very excited to rewatch this movie, and I’m jazzed to finally see the sequel.

Recommended Audience: It’s surprisingly dark when you get down to it, but a good chunk of the darkness is in the details. Still, there are some blatant darker aspects like the hero genocide, the suicide attempt and the implied infidelity. 10+


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AVAHS – Spot’s Magical Christmas (1995) Review

AVAHS - Spot's Magical Christmas

Plot: A young puppy named Spot prepares for Christmas with his parents when he meets two reindeer who have lost Santa’s sleigh! Spot and his friends must find it and return it to the reindeer or else Santa might not be able to make his deliveries this Christmas.

Breakdown: And now, A Tale of Twix Re-Discovering Spot After Over Twenty Years of Not Thinking About it – Told in Gifs. Enjoy.

Seriously, I have not seen or thought about Spot since I was probably eight or nine. The shorts, The Adventures of Spot, aired on Playhouse Disney and I loved them for that blip of time that they played. I never knew that Spot had a Christmas special. It’s not even listed on the Wiki page for the Spot franchise. As far as I can tell, this was a direct-to-VHS special made in 1995, and that’s about it.

But to rediscover Spot AND have that rediscovery come in the form of a previously unknown to me Christmas special starring the adorable pup? It truly is an early Christmas gift.

As for the special itself, it’s just a great bundle of Christmas fun. Spot is as adorable as I remembered him, the simple art and animation as well as the gentle and warm tones are extremely welcoming, and it’s loaded with Christmas spirit.

The songs, of which there are only two (One, technically, but I’ll get to that in a sec) are catchy and sweet. The first song is a tango-ish song sung by the reindeer about how they lost Santa’s sleigh, and the second is a song that was included on the Spot’s Winter Sports short which was included in this special near the end. It’s a very short song about Spot going out on his sled, and it’s pretty alright.

There are some legitimately funny moments in here as well – some based on thinking too hard about it and some out of good humor, especially with the reindeer. There was one shot where Tom, the alligator (crocodile?) makes the doofiest face seemingly on purpose and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Overall, while this is certainly aimed at much younger audiences, it’s a sweet, adorable and innocent little special. If nothing else, it will give you a hearty dose of Christmas spirit. And, if you’re like me and used to like Spot but ended up disconnected to the poor pup because of 20 years of the franchise being more or less dead, this is a great way to reconnect with him.

Also, fun fact, while he doesn’t voice spot in the special, that honor goes to Calum Nielsen, Johnathan Taylor Thomas voices Spot in the Spot’s Winter Sports short since he voiced Spot in the US version of the second series of shorts (They originated in the UK.)


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AVAHS – An All Dogs Christmas Carol Review

Plot: Charlie, Sasha and Itchy try to make a good Christmas for all the dogs and puppies in town. However, their holiday fun is ruined when Carface crashes the party. Using a mind-controlling dog whistle given to him by Annabelle’s evil witch cousin, Belladonna, Carface hypnotizes the dogs into giving him all of their bones. As he leaves, he also takes all of the presents, food and the money being raised for little Timmy’s life-saving operation. Belladonna’s true plan is much more sinister than just ruining a Christmas party. She wants to control all of the dogs in San Francisco to steal their master’s presents and ruin Christmas.

Charlie, Itchy and Sasha use a miracle tag granted to them by Annabelle to make Carface the hero they need to stop Belladonna by putting him through a familiar Dickens story.

Breakdown: It wouldn’t be AVAHS without at least one two animated version(s) of A Christmas Carol.

I have a bit of a strange relationship with the All Dogs Go To Heaven franchise. I did watch all of the movie entries numerous times when I was a kid, and I definitely remember today’s topic of focus as well. I liked it quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say I was ever a massive fan or anything.

Nowadays, I don’t have much interest in ever returning it, mostly because, as you might now, I have a bit of an issue with any feature involving animals being abused or dying, especially pets – particularly dogs.

Gonna get a bit personal here, so skip down to the part where you see a Spongebob time card to just get to the movie review.

When I was a kid, I hadn’t really processed death much. I had lost one cat, Mowgli, whom I was too young to really remember that well, and when I was about eight I lost my dog, Ginger, whom I do remember and loved. However, I don’t really remember being able to properly understand what was actually happening at the time. I don’t remember crying. I don’t remember being scared. Unless I blocked all of that out, I just don’t think I actually grasped the gravity of concept of death at that age.

I’ve never lived a day of my life without having at least one dog in the house. As of this writing, I am 31 years old and have lost six dogs over my life – the most recent one being the most devastating to me (no disrespect or any less love to my other dogs, of course) because I had her for 15 years, half my life, and I spent the last few years giving her near round-the-clock care, so I bonded with her a lot.

I had watched All Dogs Go To Heaven 1 and 2 before I ever lost my first dog, and I probably watched An All Dogs Christmas Carol before I lost my second dog. But as the years went on, I just didn’t want to return to the All Dogs Go To Heaven movies anymore even if they would probably be positive reinforcements on helping me deal with my grief, at least a little. After all, it’s literally saying ‘all dogs go to heaven.’ However, I don’t process emotions in a very healthy manner – neither good nor bad – but I’ll spare you from that mess and just say that certain topics, like animals dying, cut deep with me.

I know some people don’t value animals very much nor have they had pets and, as a result, have never had to deal with losing a pet, but animals are special to me and my pets have always been my very best friends. Seldom do times feel worse than when you lose a pet.

While the overall hot-button topic of dogs dying is most definitely the main problem with me here, I can’t help but also believe that a part of my issue in going back to All Dogs Go To Heaven is the fact that I’ve grown up around some ignoramuses who think it’s a good idea to tell a kid that, no, their dog probably isn’t in Heaven because only humans go to Heaven. That’s almost as bad as telling a kid that their very recently deceased grandfather probably isn’t in Heaven either because he wasn’t a Christian. 😐

But I digress, kinda, I guess.

Surely this movie will be fine, right? I mean, it’s a Christmas movie and it’s just another retelling of A Christmas Carol. What could they possibly do that would be depressing?

*presses play*

*presses pause*

…….There are….angel puppies……We’re starting the movie WITH DEAD PUPPIES?!

What the hell, movie?! I mean, granted, I’m not sure most kids would connect the implications, but holy hell.

Annabelle starts telling the angel puppies a story about how Charlie and Itchy saved Christmas from her evil witch cousin, Belladonna. Flashing back, we get a pretty decent Christmas song as Charlie, Itchy and Sasha do some Christmas decorating with the local puppies.

One of the puppies is our Tiny Tim for the movie, Timmy. He has a bum leg and they’re trying to raise enough money for an operation to help save his life.

Carface and Killer come in to collect the debts of everyone there, but they don’t have the bones to pay up, especially since Carface has added in a lot of interest. Using some strange whistle to hypnotize everyone, Carface and Killer steal every single bone they have, all of the food, all of the presents for the puppies and even the handful of cents Sasha and Charlie were able to raise for Timmy’s surgery.

Before I go any further, yes, Carface is our Scrooge. The guy who extorts, kidnaps, steals, manipulates and viciously assaults others as regularly as he probably craps over the course of a day. One of the only dogs to ever wind up in Hell. And, oh yeah, the guy who MURDERED CHARLIE is going to be given a redemption arc a la A Christmas Carol. I do not agree with this choice.

Scrooge was a cold-hearted ass, but even he wasn’t nearly as bad as Carface. Scrooge was flippant and didn’t care. He was blunt and angry, but he didn’t really actively do much that was bad to other people besides be a really strict boss. Carface is actively a pile of garbage. He is evil. Whereas Scrooge refused to give money to a charity for the poor, Carface stole from a charity for a dying disabled puppy. Whereas Scrooge didn’t have sympathy for the children, Carface kidnapped and nearly killed a little orphan girl (And, later, did the same thing with a little boy). Whereas Scrooge didn’t celebrate Christmas in the slightest, Carface stole Christmas presents and holiday food from a group of dogs and puppies who were trying to celebrate the holiday.

Hell, as much as Scrooge hated Christmas, in most iterations of the story, he begrudgingly allows Bob Cratchit the day off(ish). Carface would probably beat or kill him for asking.

The original movie is also a redemption story of a slimy person/dog eventually realizing the error of his ways and bettering himself, but Charlie’s worst crimes were mostly stealing, gambling and cheating – and he had to sacrifice his life and nearly damn himself to Hell for the sake of another person to redeem himself.

Carface? Well, let’s find out.

Charlie and Itchy confront Carface about the money. He reveals that he’s actually working for Belladonna, who gave him the magical dog whistle. They’re planning on using a giant version of the whistle to hypnotize every dog on the night of Christmas Eve so they’ll all steal their masters’ gifts and bring them to Carface.

They frame it like Belladonna is the big mastermind behind this whole plot, but she’s really not. Even Charlie points this out. He asks Belladonna what she gets out of this arrangement if Carface gets all of the gifts. Her response? She gets to ruin Christmas.

Yes. Carface gets hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, and Belladonna gets to brag about ruining Christmas to….?

Also, literally the only reason we’re learning of this plot is because Charlie and Itchy have to know about it in order to stop it. It’s not even villain monologuing. Belladonna tells Killer to explain their evil plans to the boys for really no reason. They even show Charlie and Itchy a giant blueprint of the giant whistle for no other reason than to just give them an idea of what they need to look for. She could have kept the fact that there even was a second whistle a secret and let them believe the little whistle was what they were using so they could reveal the big whistle later, but nope. In fact, she melts the little whistle for no reason, despite the fact that Carface and Killer could still use it in the meantime to cause trouble.

Hey, why not use the little whistle on Charlie and Itchy so they’ll be hypnotized the whole time and not ruin your plans? No? Just gonna chase them away with fire imps so they can come back and save the day like this is a movie? Okay. Really not impressing as the main villain so far, Belladonna, not even as just a villain in this franchise.

Annabelle shows up and gives the duo a magical dog tag that, and I quote “won’t locate the whistle. It will, however, help you find a way to foil Belladonna’s plans.”

Yyeeaaahhhh………that’s dumb. That is a diamond of dumbness. With the amount of dumbness in that statement, if you managed to make a generator that ran on dumb, you could power the entire world until the day the sun burns out.

What the hell is this dog tag when its powers amount to ‘whatever you need it to do to stop Belladonna EXCEPT find the massive mind-controlling whistle, which, of course, would end this movie in a minute and a half.’?

I find it hard to believe that it’s so well-hidden anyway. The whistle is a giant object built from evil magic. Shouldn’t that thing be a beacon to the head angel dog, Annabelle? She actually has the nerve to say “There’s only so much I can do.” WHY?! Why is it you can give the boys an item that will surely give them the ability to defeat Belladonna, barring finding the whistle, but you can’t get your halo’d ass down here and actually help?

Gah, it’s Gaia and Planeteers all over again.

Believe it or not, Charlie’s first idea is to make Carface a good guy, which doesn’t make sense because they don’t even know if Carface knows where the whistle is. He was acting suspicious about knowing the location, but he could’ve just been screwing with them. (Hindsight alarm: I wrote this as I was watching the movie when I believed they wanted to turn him good to make him tell them where the whistle was so they could destroy it. Turns out, that’s not the intention. The intention is actually way stupider. Carry on.)

Actually, now that I think about it, why did Belladonna even involve Carface and Killer? Their only actual role throughout all of this is to get presents and lead the heroes into foiling her plot. She could’ve just blown the whistle in secret and gotten away with everything. Belladonna is a complete dumbass.

Itchy jokes that Carface is too much of a Scrooge to become a good guy, which also doesn’t make any sense because Scrooge DID become a good guy….

The mention of Scrooge gives Charlie an idea – they’ll use the tag’s magic to make Carface go through the motions of A Christmas Carol so they can turn him into a good guy so they can use him to stop Belladonna.

Yup. That’s the plan. Built entirely on the idea that every bad person has some sad backstory and that, with a little self-reflection, they’ll change their ways and become good, even if they’re a murderous scab.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to try this plan on Killer? He’s actually shown some semblance of goodness in the past when he helped save Anne-Marie in the first movie.

As Carface lies in bed watching TV, Charlie pops in on the screen to announce “It’s a Wonderful Carface” which is the wrong reference. I don’t know why they changed it because not only does it not fit, but it also would be better to say “A Carface Carol” or even “A Christmas Carface.”

Itchy takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and he takes Carface back to when he was a puppy. Surprisingly, they don’t make off like he was a good dog turned bad. Instead, he was a bit of a nightmare as a pup. He bullied his siblings and made trouble. However, he explains that, no matter how bad he was, his mom always loved him. That was the last holiday they spent together before he eventually was adopted by a nice family.

In his new house, Carface would be even more of a nightmare. He’d destroy everything – chew it up, tear it up, break it to pieces – as Carface put it, he could get away with murder in that house. He even destroyed the Christmas dinner and knocked over the Christmas tree. However, his owner, a boy named Bobby, would always stand up for him no matter what he did. As Carface explains in song, Bobby would always say Carface didn’t mean to do it, and he was always his buddy. Bobby, by the way, is a shitty owner. He completely ignored Carface as he did all of these things and never once thought to properly train him.

Speaking of training, Carface couldn’t help but pee on the rug after he had just gotten done demolishing the house, and apparently that one thing, that most puppies do, was the last straw – not the fact that he destroyed the place moments before. Carface expected Bobby to stick up for him, but he blamed the incident on Carface and his mother kicked him out of the house and into the cold winter night.

After that Carface decided to stop being a ‘good dog’ and became a bad dog, which is a weird thing to say because this entire story has proven that he’s been a little demon since day one. The gist is that Carface was always awful, but he had people there to enable him. The instant the enabling wasn’t there, he became even worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting the entire blame on Carface. Like I said, Bobby was a terrible owner. He never cared about what Carface was doing and never bothered to try and train him. Instead, he just made excuses and kept letting the bad behavior happen. He didn’t even properly house train Carface.

This kind of situation is all too familiar. Family adopts pet but because they either pawn off responsibility on their lazy-ass kid or they simply don’t realize that dogs, particularly puppies, need to be trained in order to not develop or exacerbate behavioral issues, and that requires, *gasp*, work, they instead blame the dog for not just being good and well-trained by default and abandon the poor thing without even making the effort to rehome it.

In that regard, Carface does get some sympathy points, but the fact that all of that was preceded by Carface just being a nightmare from day one really dulls that angle.

Compare that with Scrooge, where he was a good, but lonely, kid whose father hated him for reasons beyond his control. He loved his sister, Fan, but she ended up dying young while giving birth to her son, Fred. He had a good time under the tutelage of his boss, Mr. Fezziwig, but eventually lost his way in greed. He became obsessed with money, embittered and cold, which drove the people he loved, particularly his fiance, Belle, away and only made matters worse. He didn’t let go of the greed or the anger, even when plenty of people offered him a kind hand and a smile, friendship and understanding.

We can sympathize with Scrooge easily during this flashback period because we see that he was a good person who suffered from some terrible circumstances which certainly affected him, but ultimately he made the choice to become and stay a miserable old coot. This also gives us hope that Scrooge can change since he was, at one point, good.

This can’t be said of Carface. We can only barely sympathize with him here, and we’re left with little hope that he can actually change because he never was a good person in the past. His love of his mom or Bobby isn’t the same as Scrooge’s love of Fan. His sister loved him because Scrooge was a good person who was unjustly hated and treated like crap by his father. Scrooge loved her because she loved him and she was the only one who brought joy to his life. Carface’s mother loved him in spite of the fact that he was a troublemaker who treated his siblings badly, and Bobby just loved him because he was a little boy and Carface was a puppy – of course he’d love him. Carface loved the both of them because they loved him in spite of being a mini Tazmanian Devil.

Carface became an even worse dog after he was kicked out and loved every minute of it, but admits that he still sometimes yearned to be back with Bobby again.

Itchy returns to Charlie once the segment ends.

Itchy: “Carface is madder than ever. I mean, I didn’t know he had such a rough puppyhood.”

Charlie: “Well, a lot of us did, Itchy, but we didn’t all go turning nasty.” Mmm…I’m going to give the movie some props here for this line. They are acknowledging that his bad past isn’t an excuse to be evil, but they’re also ignoring that Carface was always a jerk, far before his owner betrayed him. He wasn’t always evil, but he clearly knew right from wrong and kept being bad while expecting people to just excuse him.

Also, he KILLED CHARLIE.

As Charlie and Itchy discuss how little time there is until Belladonna executes her plan, they see this and just ignore it.

GOLLY I WONDER WHERE THE GIANT WHISTLE IS. WHAT A BIG FUCKIN’ MYSTERY.

Sasha takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Present and shows Carface that Killer cares about him and is even preparing to give him a blow torch for Christmas. He secretly loves Christmas even though Carface hates it…..which just makes you wonder 1) why he’s agreeing to partake in a plot to ruin Christmas and 2) why he wasn’t the one Charlie and Itchy targeted for a redemption arc.

Killer even says during a song break that he regrets the bad things he’s done.

Carface realizes what a good guy Killer is………Didn’t you try to kill him too?

The aforementioned song break is a duet with Belladonna where she explains that she also loves Christmas….ruining it, anyway.

We then move to Timmy’s house. He’s owned by a fairly poor family. His owner is a young girl named Martha, who is kinda like Bobby in that she keeps ignoring this puppy doing clearly dangerous things. Timmy doesn’t have a collar, is sick and has a bum leg yet is allowed to roam the streets for hours on end. She also put a plate of cookies on the floor for some reason and allowed him to try to grab a stocking with a bone in it by stacking presents, balancing on top of them and grabbing it while she’s just sitting on the couch in the same room reading a magazine.

Carface likes Timmy because he reminds him of himself at that age, but he’s saddened when Sasha reminds him that he robbed Timmy of money he needed for an operation to help save his life.

Timmy falls from the stocking and lands on the plate that wasn’t under him before, but it was stupid for it to be on the floor anyway, so I’ll allow it. The plate breaks, and Martha’s mother rushes in.

Carface starts cringing because he believes Martha will rat out Timmy and he’ll be kicked out, but Martha actually takes the blame for what happened, much to Carface’s surprise. Timmy…’confesses’ that he was the one who actually broke the plate by carrying a plate piece over to Martha’s mother with his head down.

Martha’s Mother: “You mean….you broke the plate?”

*Timmy nods his head*

You mean….you’re intelligent enough to understand human speech, convey information and even respond to questions?

*Timmy nods his head*

Timmy is forgiven and praised for telling the truth and owning up to what he did. See, this kinda highlights that Carface wasn’t just a rowdy puppy that didn’t know any better – he did bad stuff on purpose. If Timmy knows right from wrong and knows when he should apologize, Carface should have as well. I imagine his brothers and sisters were held up to that same standard considering his mother seemed so loving, so there’s really no excuse.

Carface: “Someone should take care of him!”

Sasha: “Why?”

Carface: “Because….nobody ever did that for me!! *starts crying*” Oh shut up, you Charlie murderer. Plenty of people cared for you, but you took advantage of their kindness and never took responsibility for your actions.

Anyway,

Charlie takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Everyone’s celebrating Carface’s untimely demise, and, while sporting a super not outdated reference to The Mask, Charlie sings about Carface needing to clean up his act.

Killer: “Make up for all those mutts you whacked!” ?!?!?! So they’re acknowledging that Carface is a murderer – not just of Charlie but of who knows how many dogs? And they’re saying he still has time to turn his life around and make up for that? Are you people mental?

Oh by the way, this isn’t clever wordplay – like they meant he literally ‘whacked’ some dogs. As he’s singing this part, Killer is giving Carface a shave. When he says ‘you whacked’ he slices Carface’s head off (non-graphically). There’s no other way to interpret that.

Throughout the song, they tell Carface that, if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll end up in Hell (without saying Hell because they’ve neutered this franchise…..no pun intended) which makes sense, but also doesn’t.

Carface killed Charlie and a bunch of other dogs (as well as did a lot of other evil things) and still ended up in Heaven in the first movie because…well….*pokes original movie’s title* Also, he sold his soul, which made him wind up in Hell in the second movie. How did he come back after that (Is it explained in the series? That was one part of this franchise that I never saw), and isn’t his soul still bound for Hell after he dies because of the contract? If the contract is null and void, doesn’t that mean he goes to Heaven by default anyway because….well….*pokes original movie’s title harder* You can’t keep changing the rules on where dogs end up after they die – especially when the rule is in the frickin’ title.

Moving on, Charlie shows him Timmy’s ‘future’ which isn’t him being dead because, like I said, they neutered this franchise (even though they still showed us angel puppies in the start, so *shrug*) Instead, Timmy’s under the influence of the whistle and steals his owner’s present to bring to Carfa—….Wait, a minute, I just realized that this whole story has no urgency because, if Carface is changed, it doesn’t matter whether or not Belladonna blows the whistle. Even if the dogs steal the presents, Carface can just return them.

Charlie: “Well, the miracle tags worn off. Guess our job is done.” You guys are the worst heroes. You can still TRY TO FIND THE DAMN WHISTLE BEFORE MIDNIGHT. My god….

After that, Charlie just up and decides that it’s an emergency to find the whistle now that it’s mere minutes away from midnight.

Belladonna: “And nobody suspects that’s right here – on Alcatraz Island!” THIS is Alcatraz Island?

O…..kay.

Belladonna has–Wait a minute. Wait a dog damn minute. They’re on Alcatraz Island…….Alcatraz Island……ALCATRAZ ISLAND.

They’re going to blow the whistle from Alcatraz Island…..

How are the dogs supposed to bring the presents from San Francisco to ALCATRAZ ISLAND – a place notoriously difficult to swim to and from – while enduring incredibly cold water temperatures, especially in winter, with presents in their mouths, no less; presents that will be destroyed in the water.

Although, I guess Belladonna would get what she wants anyway. Killing everyone’s dogs on the night before Christmas would pretty handily ruin Christmas.

Belladonna has a spell set up to have lightning strike the whistle’s steam generator at midnight, causing the whistle to blow.

Carface is having second thoughts, but Belladonna is set in her plans.

Meanwhile, after about two minutes of searching, Charlie and the others return home.

Sasha: “Oh you tried, Charlie. You did everything heavenly possible.” Yeah, he sure did. He wasted nearly all of their given time and all of the magic of a miracle tag just to bring his worst enemy and MURDERER through an A Christmas Carol adaptation in the hopes that he’d have such a massive redemption arc that he’d do all of their work for them instead of doing, mmm, literally anything else.

Also, he had absolutely no plan in case Belladonna decided to go through with her plot without Carface. Like I said, he’s completely superfluous. I don’t even know why she’s commanding them to pull the levers. Can’t her little fire imps do that?

Carface does end up pulling the lever, allowing the whistle to function and hypnotizing all of the dogs of San Francisco, but he has a change of heart and flips the switch back.

Under threat of Belladonna, however, he flips the switch back once more and she melts it so he can’t flip it again.

Carface is determined to stop this, however, so he jumps on the line feeding electricity to the machine and grabs the whistle, somehow blowing it up.

Now you’d think this’d be a death fake out – have Carface sacrifice himself for Timmy and whatnot…Nope. In fact, before we see what happened to Carface, we see Killer pointing and mocking him for getting shocked this time instead of him. Carface is perfectly fine. He doesn’t even have any burn marks.

Belladonna is pissed. Carface takes the rap for what happened, yay he finally grew as a person, but Belladonna doesn’t care who takes the rap, she’s going to kill both Carface and Killer now.

………….

Annabelle: “HALT! You will not harm these two!”

Annabelle….who didn’t know where either the whistle or Belladonna were….suddenly knows where both Belladonna and the whistle are….Now that everything’s over.

Oh but not only that;

Belladonna: “Annabelle! Get out of my line of fire!”

Annabelle: “Try it and I’ll clip your wings!” This implies she’s more powerful than Belladonna and could easily defeat her.

Belladonna: “This dog belongs to me.”

Annabelle: “No, cousin. People belong to themselves so they can choose between good and evil. And it’s my duty to protect that!”

Annabelle: “Your ways are big and fiery. So I’ll stop you with something cool.”

*Annabelle makes it snow*

The light snowfall is enough to defeat her fire imps, which is sad, but Belladonna laughs it off and transforms into some half-dragon version of herself…..that of which is easily defeated by Annabelle literally snapping her fingers and burying Belladonna in snow.

Annabelle: “Hah! Nobody messes with Heaven!”

We cut back to Charlie, Sasha and Itchy with the puppies…….sleeping…………They’re sleeping…..Christmas was about to ruined in front of their very eyes….and they all decided to go to bed…..

Charlie: “It means our plan worked! We convinced Carface to save Christmas!” Well, it’s nice that you straight out admit that your plan was to get someone else to do your dirty work. You’ve learned from Annabelle quite well, Charlie….

Itchy: “Actually, Charlie, the final decision belonged to Carface.”

Annabelle: “Yes, and he chose correctly.”

Charlie: “See? I told you all along we could trust him.” He fucking murdered you.

Anyway, it’s snowing, yay, Christmas is saved, yay, and Carface even arrives to return the presents and everything else he stole. He also added a bunch of new presents and filled up Timmy’s donation can with coins. Thank god complicated life-saving operations cost about $13.87.

Uegh, Sasha even gives him a kiss on the cheek. He murdered your boyfriend.

Oh and Carface says he’s not going to stay all sweet and kind since he still has to run his business. I’m assuming, since this is based off of the TV series, that they made him say that in case it continued so Carface could still be a villain, status quo and whatnot, but it didn’t continue since they mark this as being the series finale, so….sorta implied he’ll ruined his character development for no reason.

Once everyone is all happy, Carface leaves to go visit his mom…..Wait, his mom is still alive, and he knows where she is? Why hasn’t he ever visited her until now? Also, if he had a loving mother to return to, why didn’t he just do that when Bobby betrayed him? This story has more holes than a porcupine’s shirt.

After Timmy does the trademark “God bless us, everyone.” we cut back to Annabelle one more time as she finishes telling the angel puppies the story.

The End.

——————————————-

This movie is really stupid. Like, really, really stupid. The kind of stupid where I can feel my brain fighting off the stupid like it’s a virus. The set up is stupid, the villain is stupid, her motivations are even stupider, the concept is stupid, the resolution is stupid, the heroes are stupid – everything is stupid. Granted, the original movie isn’t really a masterpiece of storytelling, but how did we devolve from that to this?

It was definitely the worst adaptation of A Christmas Carol I’ve ever seen, and Annabelle can shove a harp right up her a–

I still can’t wrap my head around the decision to make Carface a good guy. Maybe he’s been drained of so much villainy in the series that this makes more sense, but….HE KILLED CHARLIE! The main character, the guy we’re most meant to connect with, the hero of the franchise – he murdered him and slues of other dogs. He also did so much other evil shit, to the point where he was sometimes designed to look like a devil in the original movie. He sold his soul and went to Hell in the second movie.

But oh yeah, he’s just got a chip on his shoulders from something that is mostly his fault and needed to connect with someone to become good.

And with the implication that he won’t stay good in the end….what did this movie even accomplish?

I can’t even enjoy our heroes being heroic, because they weren’t. Annabelle pawned off a mission that she could have easily taken care of herself on Charlie, Itchy and Sasha, who, in turn, created an insanely convoluted plan to pawn off the task on Carface and then they just went to bed hoping the dude who murdered Charlie would have a change of heart and save the day.

The art and animation are also clearly miles away from what they once were, although I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. For the most part, it’s passable, but there are numerous instances of very stiff animation and even some shots where it looks like in-betweens are missing.

That being said, this is tolerable. In fact, the ride itself is pretty okay. Some of the dialogue is funny, and I absolutely loved those dogs who kept trying to wait for their cue to pick the Christmas song back up. The message is also very good. People choose to be good or evil – you can’t force them. Their pasts may be sad, but they’re not excuses to be evil. They make those choices. The best you can do is try to help them get back on a better path, but the rest is up to them.

That is very much a theme in A Christmas Carol. Fan dying and Belle leaving him was sad, but they weren’t excuses for him to become so jaded and hateful, and he was showing signs of wantant greed and a lack of caring before then. The ghosts may have shown Scrooge everything he needed to see, but he, ultimately, had to make the decision whether to stay greedy and cold and accept his future or become good and use what time he had left to share warmth and happiness.

I still don’t think Carface did nearly enough to earn his redemption, but they gotta keep that G rating…..Wait, the original movie was rated G, too?! What the literal hell?! Guess ten years makes quite the difference……Don Bluth reportedly owns the only PG cut of the movie.

Carface has just done way too many terrible things to believably be redeemed because he got a cartoony electric shock to stop an evil plot that he was part of in the first place. Like I said, Charlie sacrificed his life for his redemption, and he did way less than Carface.

I guess the lesson there is that no one is really beyond redemption, but that is an insanely loaded debate even for adults, let alone kids.

The music was also a positive note. Almost all of the song breaks were memorable and snappy. I most remembered listening to ‘Clean Up Your Act’ and Carface’s sad song during the Past segment. They’re not amazing songs, but they’re pretty good. I’d listen to them over again no problem.

The voice acting was alright. I think they were definitely starting to phone it in at this point, though. Steven Weber does a pretty good job as Charlie, Ernest Borgnine was fairly decent as Carface, Sheena Easton did a great job with Sasha, and Dom Deluise does well enough as Itchy.

The movie is, ultimately, harmless and would probably be a fun casual Christmas watch……barring the implications of the angel puppies. As a nostalgic rewatch, it’d probably be fine if you turn your brain off, but I despise making that suggestion, especially when it comes to children’s media. Just being a good ride is fine, but I shouldn’t have to actively not think about anything as I’m watching something. As someone who overthinks to the point of stress, it’s also a difficult endeavor for me. Children’s media should never get a pass for being dumb just because it’s for kids. That’s so ass backwards.


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Pokemon Extravaganza | Movie 10 (Dub) The Rise of Darkrai Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Ash, Dawn and Brock arrive in Alamos Town – the location of Dawn’s next contest. Along the way, they meet the balloonist/musician, Alice, and her childhood friend, Tonio, who studies energy abnormalities. As they get a tour of the local gardens, they meet Darkrai, a powerful Pokemon who induces nightmares. He seems to be terrorizing the area, but they don’t know what he wants.

Little do they know that a fierce battle between two deity Pokemon, the master of space, Palkia, and the master of time, Dialga, has started in a dimensional rift. When these two massive powers clash, it’s only a matter of time before reality as they know it starts to fall apart.

Breakdown: Now we’re at an interesting point, because I have no clue what this movie is about – and I’ve read the synopsis several times. I definitely never got into the Diamond/Pearl era of Pokemon. I watched an episode or two here and there, but I never followed along. Thing is, I also wasn’t into watching the tail end of Advanced Generation, but I feel like I knew much more about that movie going in than I knew about this one. Maybe it was the Super Saiyan Ash thing.

It’s so odd. I always remember people mentioning little things here and there, either very good or very bad, about each movie that I hadn’t seen yet, maybe even seen an AMV or two about it, but this one I’m drawing a blank on, which is weird because this is the tenth anniversary movie.

From what I read on Dogasu’s comparison, this movie comes out as a cluster of bits and pieces of each movie so far.

Dogasu: “With this particular movie, we get an epic battle between two Pokemon (Deoxys vs. Rayquaza) in an alternate universe ruled by the Unown (Entei) who can only be stopped by a song (Lugia), a fact relayed to us by a number of flashbacks dispersed throughout the movie (Lucario). Oh, and I can’t forget about the three trainers who only exist to show off the starters’ evolved forms (Myuutwo), a forced romance that really doesn’t play out until the end (Jirachi), Pokemon-to-human transformation (Latios and Latias), and an ending that requires Satoshi to solve some puzzle in order to save the day (Manaphy).

I’m sure some of that is meant to be a sort of “homage” to the franchise’s ten-year history, but at the same time it just feels really lazy.”

I’d have to agree that it sounds lazy, particularly the ‘quelling the fighting with a song’ thing. Even before I read the comparison, I was getting flashbacks to movie 02.

Maybe the reason I’ve never seen or heard much about this movie is based in its perceived laziness. Perhaps it’s just uninspired. It can’t be because Darkrai is unpopular, because, despite my thinking that it’s a blah designed forgettable legendary, apparently it’s a surprisingly popular legendary to others. As of 2016, in a Pokemon popularity poll held by The Pokemon Company in Japan, it held the 14th rank – a rank above Lu-freakin’cario! Are you kidding me? Am I not getting something?

Maybe I’ll get it after watching the movie.

——————————————–

We start out the movie with a game changer – The World of Pokemon opener! This is a new one, showcasing every legendary and main focus movie Pokemon we’ve ever seen interacting with each other in succession, which is really cool.

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When we get to Ash and the others, they even show a mashup of the previous nine movies behind them as they walk, which is also a cool nod to the anniversary.

Then we’re suddenly thrust into a space/time rift where we see Palkia and Dialga facing off. I never much cared for Palkia, but I really like Dialga. Something about Palkia’s design always put me off. That being said, Palkia’s cry sounds kickass. It’s robotic yet whale-like. It’s hard to describe, but it’s awesome.

Narration tells us that these powers who were never meant to meet suddenly met in the space/time rift, and they have to fight because….I dunno. The plot said so? At least with the Rayquaza/Deoxys match we could justify it for a bit with Deoxys muscling through Rayquaza’s territory. Here it’s basically ‘We were never meant to meet, so come at me, bro!’

You’d think the powers of time and space would work together in harmony.

Actually, this is more like the battle between the legendary birds in movie 02. They had a reason to fight too, but it was more petty than Rayquaza protecting its territory – they all wanted to rule over the elemental islands for some reason. Out of harmony, destruction would be imminent and a third-party Pokemon would damn near die trying to stop them…..Geez, this movie really has a thing for movie 02.

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The narrator is a scientist named Tonio reading out of a diary owned by someone named ‘Godey’. It’s talking about how the battle between Palkia and Dialga is enveloping the world and will drag it into chaos.

They have a cool battle for a while, scattering around randomly placed Unown for some reason. Unown, sweeties, I know you’re meant to be part of this tenth movie homage thing they have going but….go home. No one likes you. You have an unappealing design, no one wants you on their team, no one wants to hunt your whole collection, your completionist shiny hunt is a nightmare and you make me crave Alphabits.

Palkia’s shoulder….gem…thing gets cracked and the awesome battle continues. Symbolic breaking of an hourglass, ahoy!

We get our pretty nice, but kinda underwhelming, title sequence, which means–!

*drumroll*

Ash and friends!

For once in a very long time, we actually get a timeline confirmation…I think. The narrator explains that they’re traveling to Alamos town for Dawn’s next Pokemon contest, which is a nice breath of fresh air from constantly hearing ‘Ash’s next Gym battle’

They seemingly arrive at Alamos town only to find that it’s on a plateau with no other access besides a bridge that is on an entirely different path much higher up.

I really can’t get used to Brock’s new voice. It’s so deep. I’m gonna just pretend he went through late-onset ultra puberty.

A young lady named Alice, whose hair makes me think of if Pikachu’s ears and Bunneary’s ears had a baby and it somehow was made entirely out of hair, offers them a ride in her hot air balloon.

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Also, apparently Brock now has a ‘little blue book of babes.’ He’s officially a complete sleezeball now. Before, his girl-lust quirk was annoying but kinda funny sometimes. Now, he’s just creepy. He’s disappointed that he doesn’t have Alice written down in it but…how could he? He just met her.

Ah, yes, I heard about Croagunk taking the role of Brock’s new ‘ear-puller’ by…poisoning him? Okay. RIP Brock.

Alice states that she’s a hot air balloon tour guide and a music teacher. She plays a leaf whistle for a bit, and it draws all sorts of bird Pokemon their way, including a random Pidgeotto. Be still my broken heart….

Also, this Pidgeotto sounds weird….But that doesn’t matter because it’s Pidgeotto.

This ability even has a role in her ballooning because she can use the flute to ask the bird Pokemon which way the wind is blowing. Neat……Isn’t that kinda obvious in a hot air balloon, though?

Team Rocket’s following them….in a Carnivine balloon? Is this just for this movie, or did they ditch the Meowth balloon? If so, aw. 😦

They don’t stick around long, though, because they’re quickly blasted off after pissing off some nearby Drifloom and Driflim. Don’t worry, Team Rocket, I’m sure you’ll be movie-relevant again someday.

As they fly over the city, they notice two intricately designed towers called the Space-Time towers. Using his trusty Field Guide of Everything I Guess, Brock explains that the Space-Time towers were designed by the architect, Godey, over 100 years ago. That’s also where the Pokemon Contests are held.

Ash: “A hundred years!? That’s like ten years times….”

Dawn: “Times ten.”

Ash: “Right.”

We interrupt our broadcast to clumsily shoehorn in a mention of the words ‘ten years’ so we can kinda poke at the fact that this is our tenth anniversary movie. Sources claim they don’t care whether this line seems stilted and out of place. Back to our program.

Also, watch it when drawing attention to how long this show’s been going. People will start to ask why Ash isn’t 20 years old by this point (Aw, hell, that means he should be thirty now. This is just depressing me.)

Brock continues to explain that the tower on the right represents time while the left represents space….even though they just barely look a little different.

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Ash: “Hey, I coulda told ya that!” ….How?

They suddenly feel a surge of distortion, which is caused by Palkia and Dialga’s fighting. As quickly as it started, it suddenly stops.

As Alice gives Ash and co. the tour of the town, we get our opening credits and theme song. The song is not the typical extended TV theme we usually get, but is instead a song called “We Will be Heroes – The Rise of Darkrai” which has to be one of the clunkiest song names I’ve heard in a while. You might as well call it “We’re Protagonists So We’ll Save the Day – Pokemon the Tenth Movie: Buy the DVD”

The song itself is just alright, but it is fully destroyed by the background vocals. For some reason, they found it to be a good idea to have this relatively low-key song be interrupted every five seconds by a group of people yelling “POKEMON” (Pronounced “Pokeymon” here) and “DARKRAI” The Pokemon part I’ve just accepted by now because they jam that word into everything, but the Darkrai part could not feel more forced if you tried.

To emulate the same level of awkwardness, try imagining any song in your head and, in five second intervals, yell out a random name like ‘KEVIN!’

They wander around for a bit when Ash suddenly bumps into three trainers who challenge him to a match. Another Pokemon movie trope successfully checkmark’d.

This isn’t the usual trope, however, because, get this, Brock and Dawn are also being challenged. The writers remembered they exist! Yay!

Of course, Ash uses Pikachu against a Torterra. I’m not sure this was meant to be part of the homage, but the battle seriously reminds me of the Pikachu vs. Quagsire match in the opening battle of movie 03. The way it’s choreographed is strikingly similar.

Dawn’s Piplup goes up against an Empoleon by…holding its breath?….Okie dokie.

Finally, Brock’s Croagunk battles an Infernape.

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Thus we have the three trainers who exist solely to show off the evo’d starters for the region.

Dawn’s battle is actually pretty good. I love that spinning water move Piplup used (the first one), and there’s quite a bit of action for an opener battle. Sadly, however, the song soon ends and the battles end off-screen. The most we got to see was 2/3 of Dawn’s match, which seemed stalemated.

After the song ends, we just cut to them continuing their tour. Alice brings them all to a garden, also designed by Godey, which, according to Brock’s Field Guide of Wow, Really? It Has Info on This Too?, was modeled to symbolize the harmony between humans and Pokemon. Alice grew up here and knows all of the Pokemon, and this prompts Ash, Dawn and Brock to let out all of their Pokemon for some fresh air. Whatever gives you screentime, guys.

Time for pointless dicking around! Is this the real homage to the Manaphy movie?

I sure am being mean to Pokemon today.

The Pokemon all start fighting after some accidental shenanigans.

A face-off between two groups of pissed off Pokemon, two of whom are smashing their faces into each other? Are we homaging the shorts now too? Because that’s very similar to Pikachu’s Summer Vacation.

Alice plays her leaf flute to calm the Pokemon, and I really wish they just had a regular flute because the leaf flute kinda sounds like crap. Sounds like someone’s playing a Casio through a garbage bag.

And everyone got along again, hooray!

Side-note: I love Ash’s backpack for DP. I wish I had that backpack.

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A Gallade directs Alice and the others to some pillars in the garden that have been toppled and warped. A man named Baron Alberto, whose name, voice, characteristics and character design are all ridiculous, claims it was the work of Darkrai. He must’ve been Beetlejuice-summoned thanks to the theme song.

Brock explains that Darkrai is a Pokemon who supposedly gives you nightmares.

They believe they hear Darkrai in some bushes, so Alberto sics his….Lickylicky on it….Dear God, even his tastes in Pokemon are ridiculous. No one can not sound like an idiot when commanding a Lickylicky. Even its voice is stupid.

He blindly Hyper Beams the bush only to reveal it was actually Tonio and his Driflim. Tonio was investigating a space/time fluctuation in the area that lead him to the warped pillars.

Warning – Warning: Insanely clearly defined pointless love triangle detected.

Targets – Tonio, Alberto and Alice.

Prediction: Tonio and Alice get together while Alberto is consistently an idiot throughout the movie.

Suggested Action – Ignore it. It probably doesn’t impact the plot.

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Meanwhile, back in Badass Battle Land, Palkia and Dialga cause another rift, which triggers darkness to fall in the garden and Darkrai to appear.

Tonio: “It’s Darkrai.”

Alberto: *smirk* “I’d say so.”

What?….Also, I hate your face.

*sigh* Am I seriously the only one who thinks Darkrai just looks like an uninspired shadowy ghost with an emo kid haircut?

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Alberto tries to attack Darkrai with Lickylicky, but he turns into a shadow and dodges. Darkrai uses a Dark Void orb, which hits Ash. Pikachu friggin’ screams when this happens, which surprised me because he didn’t even do that when Ash got petrified in the first movie.

Ash is transported to some dream version of the garden. We get some kinda neat visuals with Darkrai’s shadow until he shows us an icky CGI rendition of Palkia. Ash tries to battle Darkrai and throws out Turtwig’s Pokeball only to have it disintegrate when it’s thrown. Darkrai starts to vanish underground. Ash spots Pikachu in the foreground and calls o—Uh, dude? Your Turtwig was straight up vaporized. Have an emotional response to this, please.

Dreamachu gets sucked into a hole that Darkrai’s creating, and Ash rushes to save him only to get swept up in the hole as well. Oh yeah, Turtwig reduced to atoms, barely notice. Pikachu’s about to fall in a hole—OH GOD, I’LL SAVE YOU!

Pikachu wakes him up from the nightmare with a shock and he finds himself in the local…Pokemon center? Take him to a human doctor, dammit! Why are there more Pokemon centers in this world than doctor’s offices? How freaked out would you be if you passed out and woke up in a vet’s office?

Ew, Joy’s new voice. Ew….She sounds like Jynx.

Tonio does some investigating and we learn the story of Alice’s grandmother, Alicia, who looks nearly identical to Alice except her hair is in one puff while Alice’s is in two.

In a nice sepia-toned flashback, we learn that Darkrai was in the garden many years ago. It was sending the nearby Pokemon into nightmares as a form of self-defense because it was very weak. It was about to do the same to Alicia, but she placed her hand on Darkrai and started playing a song on her leaf flute. Darkrai opened its heart to Alicia and lived peacefully in the garden after that.

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Reading further into the diary of Godey, he learns that Godey learned all he needed to know about a future event from a nightmare. In order to save the world, he needed to leave oracion.

Meanwhile, Alberto’s meeting with Team Rocket, who are disguised as TV reporters. Nothing happens, but in the past ten years Team Rocket has somehow gotten even worse at coming up with cover names. Jessalina, Jameson and….Meowt? I can’t understand Meowth very well when he’s saying his, but that’s what it sounds like.

Ash and the others go into the tower to check out the contest hall and, geez, that place is way too nice to just be held for a contest hall. There’s also a huge, intricately detailed, carved Pokemon mural on the wall. The space tower holds a cool looking mobile while the time tower has pendulums like a clock.

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As they continue the tour, Alice explains that Godey is actually Tonio’s great-grandfather. Tonio’s lab, which I assume also used to be Godey’s, is in the level below the towers.

They go down to the lab, and Tonio explains what he’s found so far, including a picture of Godey and Alicia that has sheet music written on the back. Ash and the others spot some music discs, which the tower uses to play music. Dawn really wants to try some, so they walk to the top of the tower to play them.

When they reach the top, we learn more tidbits about the tower. Godey built the tower as a beacon of hope to humans and Pokemon alike, and the towers are technically the world’s largest musical instrument given their massive integrated music disc playing device. It reads divots in the discs and plays the bells in the tower according to the patterns.

This whole sequence in the tower is quite nice. The towers are beautifully designed, even if the CGI’s a little distracting, and the fact that they’re a giant musical instrument is really cool.

After they exit the towers, the three trainers from before suddenly reappear and challenge Ash and the others to a rematch. Just when you think someone’s slammed the brakes on the plot, another rift occurs. Dialga’s kicking Palkia’s ass, and Palkia is running to the Space-Time Tower to get away.

Darkrai appears again, and Alberto, believing himself to be filmed by Team Rocket, ‘heroically’ calls out his Lickylicky (See? You can’t not sound stupid saying anything with that name) and attacks. Darkrai sends out many Dark Void orbs, hitting several nearby Pokemon….and none of them being Licklicky. Booooo!!

Also, I get that Darkrai’s seen as this horrifying Pokemon, but all it does is put you to sleep and give you a nightmare. You’re not hurt or anything. You wake up just fine afterwards. I mean, I wouldn’t want to have a nightmare, but there are much worse things.

Ash faces off with Darkrai, but is interrupted by Baron Alberto. It’s a short-lived battle resulting in Lickylicky getting Dark Voided.

There’s a weird image of a Bibarel, one of the Pokemon who got Dark Voided before, floating around them after Darkrai leaves.

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Jessie: “An ultra rare Pokemon!?”

James: “That flies through walls?”

Alberto: “It can’t be real.”

Yeah…it’s not like there are…..Ghost Pokemon….or anything……..

Suddenly, Lickylicky starts to glow, then Alberto glows….and then….he morphs…..into a weird Lickylicky/Alberto hybrid…..

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Well, good job, Darkrai. That will certainly give me nightmares for the rest of my life.

Back at the Pokemon Center, which is now overflowing with Pokemon who are trapped in nightmares, Tonio concludes that the real world and the dream world are merging, causing images of the Pokemon to appear in the real world as they’re having their nightmares. Alberto asked what happened to him and Tonio states that Lickylicky probably dreamed of being him, so he turned into Lickylicky….

Uhhh….Few things.

1) Why are just the images of the Pokemon and not the nightmares themselves merging with the real world?

2) Why does Lickylicky have nightmares about being Alberto?

3) Why is Lickylicky the only Pokemon with a nightmare that isn’t being chased by something?

4) If Lickylicky’s nightmare is about being Alberto, why did Alberto turn into a Lickylicky instead of an image of Lickylicky as Alberto appear?

Also, Pikachu woke Ash up from his nightmare with a shock – why doesn’t he just Thundershock the whole building?

The three nameless trainers arrive again and break the news that they’re trapped in the town by some sort of weird fog. It can’t be lifted with Pokemon abilities such as Defog, and running into the fog just returns you back to town.

Alberto blames these oddities on Darkrai (and licks Jessie…..I couldn’t not point that out) and rallies the Pokemon Trainers together to destroy him.

After Alberto and the Trainers leave, Alice pipes up and says she doesn’t believe Darkrai is behind this. Tonio even offers an explanation as to why he believes Darkrai is innocent……..so….you just let those Pokemon Trainers go off on a witch hunt, intent on ‘destroying’ Darkrai, before you decide to try and clear its name? Nice.

A flashback shows us that, when Tonio and Alice were children, Alice fell off of a cliff while she was playing. (Let me rephrase that. She stupidly ran around a cliffside with her eyes closed, running backwards at a point, too, and stupidly fell off the cliff like a stupid person.) Tonio tried in vain to catch her, but Darkrai appeared and caught her. He set her gently on the ground and quickly vanished. Alice always believed Tonio was the one who saved her, but now Tonio believes it was Darkrai who did it. That evidence coupled with the story of Darkrai opening its heart to Alicia leads them to believe that Darkrai isn’t evil and isn’t the one behind all of these strange occurrences.

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Or you could go the obvious route and point out that Darkrai only has the ability to create nightmares and can’t alter reality, but whatever.

Alberto licks Jessie again. It’s not in a perverted manner or anything, he does it whenever she calls him Baron Lickylicky, but it’s still insanely weird.

Pbbbbt Darkrai looks a thousand times more ridiculous when you give him long dancer’s legs.

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Tonio looks back through video footage captured by his Driflims over the past few days and discovers that Palkia entered the real world through the rift that occurred while they were playing music at the top of the tower.

Meanwhile, Darkrai’s getting piled on by the Trainers of the town, but it soon Dark Voids them all. I love this shot of Ledian sleeping. It can’t close its eyes, so it just looks dead.

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Alberto even tries to take advantage of his Lickylickiness to battle, but Darkrai just sends him and Team Rocket blasting off. I love how much of a point these four have in this movie.

Tonio shows Ash and the others the footage, and they realize that the Pokemon in the video is Palkia and that Darkrai has been trying to warn them of what was about to happen this whole time, since he’s the only one who could see them.

Darkrai has been telling Palkia to not come to their dimension and to go away, but the others thought Darkrai was talking to them.

Ash points out that Darkrai was trying to warn him of Palkia inside of his dream by simply…showing him an image of Palkia. Darkrai, you can communicate verbally. If you wanted to warn Ash about an impending doom, don’t be vague. Just tell him. So many plots in movies would be solved in minutes if people learned to communicate.

Palkia has been hovering about the Space-Time Towers, invisibly, trying to heal from its wounds, but Darkrai finds it and starts attacking it. Palkia does some kickass effects to the sky and suddenly the Dark Void effects are all ending on the Pokemon and Alberto.

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Tonio reveals that the sky has changed due to Palkia transporting the entire town into another dimension, meaning the nightmare effects wore off. The battle between Darkrai and Palkia rages on, and, again, the battle’s pretty intense. Dialga suddenly interrupts and lays down the smackdown on Palkia to the point where parts of the town are literally disintegrating.

As Dialga and Palkia beat the crap out of each other, Tonio points out that Godey had a nightmare about this battle, which he wrote about in his diary.

Alice is a dumb idiot of stupid and runs out to yell to Dialga and Palkia to stop fighting, only to put her in the line of fire. Darkrai saves her, though.

After unsuccessfully trying to Dark Void Palkia and Dialga, Darkrai gets the full force of both of them and falls out of the sky.

Darkrai has a slight moment with Alice and the others in the garden before it vanishes into shadow form again.

Tonio does some scanning of the town and discovers that the fight between Dialga and Palkia is causing the town to literally break into pieces and be lost to alternate dimensions. If they don’t act soon, the town and everyone in it will disappear into another dimension.

He remembers an entry in Godey’s diary which explains that the nightmare prompted him to leave oracion for the future. Alice recognizes the word and explains that it’s the title of a song written on the back of the photo of Godey and Alicia. However, doing it on a little leaf whistle isn’t going to cut it. They need to use a sound disk of the song and play it through the Space-Time Tower.

Tonio knows for a fact that the song ‘Oracion’ is not in the collection of sound disks in the lab, so they go to a much larger collection stored on the walls in the lobby. However, there are so many that they don’t know where it could be.

She has a flashback to her grandmother teaching her the song. Alicia tells her that oracion means ‘prayer’ and to always remember it. From this, she’s able to deduce which disk it is, but, really, she just matched the symbol on the photo to the one on the sound disk. I don’t get how she correlated the prayer thing into it.

By the way, this is a horrible way of storing these disks. They’re not organized at all and you need two people to spin the massive wheels they’re on to get the right one.

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The Trainers of the town try to stop the attacks of Dialga and Palkia, and Croagunk straight up punches one of their attacks away like a boss.

As Ash and the others ascend the tower in the hot air balloon (She really needs Chimchar to heat the balloon? Even Team Rocket has an actual burner…) a bunch of slightly unnecessary stuff happens like Piplup nearly falls to its death (it’s saved by Staravia) and Dawn nearly falls to her death (she’s saved by convenient ledges and a misunderstanding of physics.) and Ash falls off (saved by the same logic as Dawn’s, but less so because he was able to slow his descent).

As Tonio and Alice struggle to get by the attacks in their damaged balloon, Tonio falls to his death, and Alice is saved from an attack by Darkrai sacrificing itself. Alice manages to land safely, being saved from falling off the bridge by Lickylicky of all things (ew, by the way), but it can’t hold her. Tonio, having dodged death on his Driflim…..that he should’ve been utilizing this whole time, saves her instead.

Ash, smartly, utilizes Aipom and Turtwig to divert attacks from Dialga and Palkia while he and Dawn climb the tower. As they climb, they reach a dead end because part of the towers is vanishing. Dawn releases Bunneary and Buisel to make a bridge with Water Gun and Ice Beam (Wouldn’t Ice Beam make the bridge by itself? Eh whatever.)

I have to say, it’s not a whole lot, but I love how everyone’s Pokemon are getting to do things in this movie. They are terrible at being consistent with utilizing the Pokemon they have on them, but when they actually remember them it’s really great.

Also, I forgot Buneary has a crush on Pikachu. N’awww.

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The town Trainers use their Pokemon to attack the withering edges of the town and it actually slows down the disintegration process…..I have no clue why they’d think that’d work nor the logic behind this, but good job!

It’s nice that the nameless side character Pokemon get stuff to do too.

It’s all for naught, however, because Tonio’s readings indicate that their dimension will be destroyed if Dialga and Palkia collide one more time. Darkrai won’t stand for this and, while I’ve been ignoring the pink v. blue titan battle a la Mewtwo v. Mew, it’s hard to not notice that Darkrai obviously does a sendup to the first movie by jumping in the middle of two energy blasts yelling ‘STOP!’, seemingly sacrificing himself. It doesn’t immediately die, in fact it uses its power to stop the forces from colliding, but it’s only a matter of time.

Back with Ash and Dawn, the tower is still vanishing, and Ash and Dawn nearly fall, only to be saved by Buizel’s Water Gun. It was just a tiny moment, but for some reason I was really happy when that happened.

Darkrai’s power starts to wane.

Dawn: “Ash, come back!”

No! Ash, keep running! Why would you tell him to turn around to watch Darkrai’s powers fail and then see him get blasted out of the sky? He’s doing this to buy you time. You have no time to spare to just watch something happen – RUN!

Darkrai gets disintegrated, and Dialga and Palkia return their attentions to each other.

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Ash and Dawn reach the top of the tower, but the sound disk won’t fit in the system. Dawn, connecting the symbols on the disk and the system, tells Ash to try the slot in the middle….Wow…..that was an ungodly pointless ‘puzzle’. Not to mention, we’ve already done the ‘match the symbols’ “puzzle” like ten minutes ago. It’s not that difficult. And, really, Ash sees that there are numerous slots in the machine for disks and instead of checking to see if it will fit in any other slot he just analyzes the front side of the disk like an idiot.

They insert the disk and pull the lever, but are shocked to discover that the power is out. Really? With the black sky outside they didn’t notice a power outage in a building? Where is the light coming from?

Being fair, it makes sense that the power is out considering the whole place is disintegrating.

Dawn calls out her Pachirisu and Ash uses Pikachu to power the machine. Wow, Pikachu sharing the electric limelight with another? It’s a Christmas miracle.

The song plays and it instantly culls the fighting. It even stops the disintegration. The song really is quite lovely when played on bells.

Pikachu and Pachirisu are unable to hold their attacks any longer, but the tower seems to have gained it’s own magical power and doesn’t stop the song. Far from it, in fact. It glows a golden color and the tower starts to transform into a beautiful design that encapsulates the symbolism of space and time respectively.

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The tower then grows massive golden wings of light….which I think is a bit excessive, but alright. Palkia’s jewel gets healed, and Dialga and Palkia share a small glance before Dialga leaves.

However, all is still not well. Ash and Dawn beg for Palkia to return the town back to normal.

Ash: “Palkia, can’t you see what you’ve done!? You’ve destroyed the whole town….All the….Pokemon….”

Uh….First of all, while Palkia’s not blameless here, Dialga’s the one who forced Palkia here and started this whole thing.

Second, the whole town is destroyed, to a degree, and your one thought is of the Pokemon? Not the people who probably vanished too?

Third, wait, we didn’t see a damn thing happen to any Pokemon outside of Darkrai. Why not just say Darkrai?

Also, Dogasu was right, Sarah Natochenny cannot emote through Ash worth a damn.

Palkia decides to clean up the mess, so he restores the town and returns it to it’s rightful space.

Hehe, get it? I said space.

Everything’s okay now…..but of course we have to have the overly dramatic death fakeout.

Oh no.

Darkrai disappeared from the effects of Palkia’s power. But Palkia reversed everything.

Oh no.

Oh dear.

Oh my.

Certainly the Dark of Rai is dead. Let us have a clipshow to sad, dramatic music (not kidding – they put this in the movie) to remember his valiant sacrifice…..

This whole scene is ridiculous and hard to sit through if you have a few brain cells. It’s not just the typical ‘ahhh, we know he’s still alive’ death fakeout. This death fakeout makes zero sense before they even start the damn clipshow. We have to sit through the clipshow, the music, the crying, the overly dramatic declarations from Ash, the solemn walk away – all of it – when every bit of logic is screaming ‘HE’S NOT DEAD. HE CAN’T BE DEAD. UNLESS PALKIA’S A MASSIVE DOUCHE AND LOCKED HIM IN ANOTHER DIMENSION, HE’S OKAY.’

Admittedly, revealing him as a giant shadow on a mountainside was pretty cool, though.

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His overly dramatic whooshy physical reveal ruined it a little, though.

Then we get a closeup of Darkrai and it just ends….No reunion, no wrap up, just Darkrai’s glowing eye.

Credits time!

It’s mostly random shots of places we went in the movie, then we get a series of stillframes showcasing Dawn’s contest….Anyone wanna put in their two cents if this is canon? Because Dawn loses.

Also, two of the three nameless trainers were participating in the contest – the guy with the Empoleon and the girl with the Infernape. The girl won.

Team Rocket appears and I completely forgot they were even here to begin with again.

Ash, Brock and Dawn say their farewells to Tonio and Alice….I just realized that Brock let off on Alice when Tonio came into the picture. Is that character development?

Some more random shots, then Dialga heading off to his…dimension? And Palkia doing the same. Ash and the others continue their journey….

The credits songs are ‘I Will Remember You’ sung by Kirsten Price, a song I actually like quite a bit. It’s definitely one of the better movie songs they’ve had in recent years…..and then we get “Living in the Shadows” by Chris “Breeze” Barczynski – an intrusive rap song. Guys, it’s 2007 by this point. Stop it.

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The end.

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I liked this movie a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. It gave me a better appreciation for Palkia and Darkrai, and while I can definitely feel the throwbacks to the previous movies, the references only seemed a little on the lazy side. Probably the laziest was the Unown. They are literally just thrown into the movie because….alternate dimensions is something Unown do…And we couldn’t think of another movie 03 reference, so…….here we are.

The song aspect wasn’t as rip-offy in the end as I feared. Alice didn’t save the day with her leaf and the music playing through the bells of the towers was cool. I’d definitely say the references ended up feeling more like an homage rather then just lazily cobbling together a plot from old plots.

The excuse to have Dialga and Palkia fight was practically non-existent, but I don’t care because their fight was awesome.

Alice was….a somewhat boring CotM. Tonio was much more interesting.

Dawn and Brock kinda got stuff to do, and everyone’s Pokemon got to do a little something. Not to mention that hug Brock gives Happiny near the end was adorable.

I enjoyed the aspect of the dimension breaking apart, and I also loved how they handled the visuals of the dimension crumbling. The video distortion whenever a rift was occurring was a great touch – it really made you feel like reality was coming apart.

Darkrai’s plot is very understandable. It must be difficult for a Pokemon whose main power is creating nightmares to not be outcast. I would’ve liked to have seen him and Alice have a moment after his reappearance, however. It felt like it resolved on a somewhat hollow note.

Ash was not the main forefront in this movie, which was more than welcome. It was very much a team effort, even if Ash was the one who orchestrated the resolution to the conflict. However, I can’t stress enough how much Baron Alberto didn’t need to be here. He was an annoying waste of space. He wasn’t a threat to Alice and Tonio’s budding relationship (Hey, wait, they didn’t even resolve that part of the plot), he wasn’t an antagonist and he wasn’t interesting. He seemed like he was there for terrible comic relief and to give Team Rocket an excuse for being there, which was, in itself, extremely flimsy.

The visuals were very well done this time around. The CGI was not that great, but it wasn’t nearly as bad or distracting as it was in movie 09.

The music was quite good barring the stupid rap song. If you want to keep giving homages to past movies, that was a great flashback to the tonal whiplash of the first movie’s ending songs.

There were some moments that bothered me, but maybe I was overreacting on some of those because I just didn’t have much to talk about for this movie.

Recommended Audience: I can’t really think of anything worth noting beyond the typical ‘cartoon violence’. 5+


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Animating Halloween | Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! Review

Plot: The Scooby gang enjoys Halloween while doing what they do best – solving mysteries. However, things get a little complicated when a local pumpkin patch turns into monstrous creatures bent on destroying the town of Crystal Cove and turning everyone into jack-o-lantern creatures.

Breakdown: Modern day Scooby-Doo is a weird area to venture into. I mean, granted, Scooby-Doo has always been kinda weird, but the way that the franchise has changed over the years, for better or worse, is both difficult to watch and kinda welcome at the same time.

Scooby-Doo tends to be very meta nowadays, and they’re constantly using self-referential humor. They also try to keep themselves modern as much as possible in their writing, which, again, sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

They also just tend to run with the idea that Scooby-Doo can crossover with pretty much anything. They’ve had crossover events with the WWE, Lego, Batman, Supernatural (I still can’t believe they pulled that off) and even, I’m not lying, an entire movie with Bobby Flay as a main character called Scooby-Doo! And the Gourmet Ghost….

Speaking of Batman, I really forget sometimes that actual Batman is a part of the Scooby-Doo universe, and what better way to remind me of that fact than by having the villain of the opening scene being Scarecrow….in his Scarecrow outfit….while wearing a different Scarecrow costume on top of that?

And this isn’t just a flippant fly-by cameo either. He’s a significant part of the entire movie….So are Bill Nye and Elvira, but that’s besides the point.

Now, I’m not saying them upping the weird ante is bad. Sometimes, the dialogue is a little cringey, but I actually tend to enjoy myself a lot whenever I watch a modern Scooby-Doo production, whether it be TV shows or movies….although I did hear Scoob! sucked……Anyway, they always tend to have snappy writing, good jokes, fun moments, good character interactions (And I like how they’ve changed the characters over time.), decent animation, good music, and even legitimate scares. All of those apply in Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!

Even if most of the movie is a big chase scene, it’s a fun and exciting chase scene that seems to have real stakes.

Although, I do have to say that the ending reveal didn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m not going to mention who the culprit was to avoid total spoilers, but Velma was actually right. Despite seeing many real monsters and supernatural events over the years, she refused to believe the living jack-o-lanterns attacking the city were real. And they weren’t. They were just drones. How they never managed to find that out for themselves, I have no idea. They smashed so many of those jack-o-lanterns, there’s no way they didn’t discover a drone or parts within some of them. They just squish like any other pumpkin.

Also, unless the culprit managed to sneak a drone in every pumpkin and jack-o-lantern in town, there’s no way they should have been shown turning into the jack-o-lantern creatures. The pumpkins literally carved themselves and the jack-o-lanterns just sprang to life.

Secondly, she says the way that the ‘alpha’ jack-o-lantern could drain the power from electronic devices when it got close to them was because it had an EMP inside of it, which also doesn’t make any sense because some electronic devices were completely unaffected, most notably the other lesser jack-o-lantern drones.

I might just be splitting hairs there, but in a series meant to be about using logic to solve mysteries I think it’s appropriate to nitpick sometimes, even if it is Scooby-Doo.

Overall, this was a blast to watch, and it really got me into a Scooby mood and a Halloweeny mood. My biggest complaint is that, yeah, some of the dialogue and jokes, especially where Daphne is concerned, are kinda cringey. I mean ‘torch-splaining’? Using ‘Mary Sue’ as if it’s a compliment? Saying “friendship is OP.”? Come on.

If you’re a Scooby-Doo fan, this is a great watch around Halloween, and I really recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10


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Dissecting the Disquels Finale – The Ultimate Disquel Rankings List!

To cap off Dissecting the Disquels, I have decided to make a finalized rankings list of all of the movies in the set. Now, you might think that, since all of the movies have been reviewed with number ratings, that the list should be easy enough to sort out, but that really isn’t the case. Considering I’ve been sitting on these reviews for years, as many as seven years for a few of them, I found myself seeing some of the entries in a different light for a variety of reasons, and that made their places on the list either higher or lower as a result.

Here’s what I was focused on.

Overall Quality – this is basically the initial number rating I gave to the movie.

Memorability – How much I remember the movie now and how memorable I found it upon watching it.

Entertainment Value – How much fun I had watching it.

Original Respect/Disrespect – How much it disrespected the original movie OR if it displayed particular notes of respect for the original. I’ll be gauging this via positive or negative ratings.

Rewatch Desire – Not really rewatchability, as in if you’d get any benefit from watching it again, but moreso whether I WANT to rewatch it.

With those factors in mind, let’s finally rank all of the Disquels!

Going from best to worst;

1 – The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (Part One | Part Two)

I don’t think there’s anything more I can say about this movie that I haven’t already said. It is, by far, the best Disquel and a fitting followup to one of my favorite movies ever, The Lion King. It doesn’t surpass its predecessor, but it is still a very good movie on its own with great characters, an amazing soundtrack and an awesome villain. This is what all of the Disquels should have aspired to be, but, alas, that obviously didn’t happen.

Overall Quality – 8.5/10

Memorability – 9/10

Entertainment Value – 9/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +6 While it does do the original justice and doesn’t really disrespect anything directly, the massive chasm between the original movie and the sequel’s plot is way too noticeable. There’s just too much left unexplained……

…..THE OTHER LION WAS GOLD AND MALE, GUYS. GOLD AND MALE. Where did he go!?

Disney:

Rewatch Desire – 9.5/10

2 – The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (The Little Mermaid 3)

I decided Ariel’s Beginning would get second place because, while it is very much neck and neck with my third place choice, I just felt like Ariel’s Beginning had more substance and reason to exist. It allowed us to better understand why Triton was the way he was about humans, and it introduced us to Ariel’s mom for…a few minutes.

Plus, it’s a very entertaining movie that never really annoyed me at any point, and I still love Benjamin. It suffers from having a very weak villain and a deja vu plot, but it still stands up well enough on its own.

Overall Quality – 8/10

Memorability – 7/10

Entertainment Value – 8/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +7 Their biggest sin here was, despite having a movie celebrating music and how important it is to both undersea life/mermaids and, well, the movie series as a whole, the original soundtrack is very much lacking and that’s greatly disappointing. Plus, while Ariel’s mom was in the movie, it was very, very briefly.

Rewatch Desire – 7.5/10

3 – Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

The big surprise of the whole set of Disquels was definitely Cinderella III. The original movie didn’t call for a two let alone a three, and two was awful, so how good could a third be? Quite good, bafflingly enough. It has a very appealing style to it, it’s entertaining, charming and funny, it gave Cinderella some agency and it fleshed out the relationship between her and the prince more than the original or the second movie ever did.

This movie doesn’t have much of a reason to exist, is all, and it doesn’t change the status quo at the end, which is understandable because it’s a time travel movie. It shifted focus to Anastasia, which continues to be a confusing choice to me, but works well enough. She’s a good person now, having gone through a legit redemption arc this time, but doesn’t get her own love interest in the end, which is both welcome because that’s cliché and a bit confusing because where’s the damn baker from the second movie? He was a normal dude, looking normal and doing a normal job, and he really Disney-loved her. He would’ve been perfect for her to end up with. It would’ve been easy to work him in. Make him the royal baker or something. Come on.

Overall Quality – 8/10

Memorability – 7/10

Entertainment Value – 7.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 I’m keeping this one neutral because, technically, this movie is doing the ultimate disrespect to the first movie by basically erasing it from ever happening. However, like I said, I liked what they replaced it with, so…..People will probably argue this one, but I’m keeping this where it is.

Rewatch Desire – 7.5/10

4 – Bambi II

This is another movie that can sorta justify its existence, but didn’t really need to be made. Bambi II tells the story of Bambi’s life after his mother died but before he grew into a buck, being raised by the Great Prince of the Forest, which is an interesting enough premise. Being a midquel, it suffers from midquel predictability in that we know everyone will survive and nothing too impacting will happen, and it doesn’t, but it’s an enjoyable cute little movie that I liked so much that, in the review, I said it would’ve taken second place in my list of Disquel rankings. It’s not a must-see movie or anything, but I’d recommend any Bambi fan give it a watch.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 6.5/10

Entertainment Value – 7/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +4 It didn’t really do anything to mar the original, and it provided us with a look into a stronger bond between Bambi and the Great Prince. Kinda makes the original’s ending even more impacting.

Rewatch Desire – 7/10

5Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch

Lilo and Stitch was the last Disney classic to get the Disquel treatment, and it somehow managed to get the most Disquels with three movies – Lilo and Stitch 2, Stitch! The Movie and Leroy and Stitch. Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch, was the lowest rated out of all of them, but looking back I feel like I have maintained more of an appreciation for this movie slightly above the others. I just think the actual premise, Stitch going crazy due to a glitch, could’ve been done better. They don’t go far enough with him going ‘bad’ and the conflict was poorly handled since Jumba and Pleakley literally could have cleared everything up in a sentence but chose not to.

However, we do get more about Lilo’s mom, we get some really heartwarming moments, there’s some nice music, and out of all of Lilo and Stitch’s Disquels, this is the one I’d most want to watch again.

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 7/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +1 Mostly neutral here. They do some things to respect the original movie and nothing to really disrespect it outside of maybe Lilo being a bit too harsh with Stitch when she’s always been understanding of him and should have known something was wrong instead of just believing he had gone bad again.

Rewatch Desire6/10

6 – Leroy and Stitch

The finale of the Lilo and Stitch universe….barring the anime versions…Leroy and Stitch is about Dr. Hamsterviel using a new experiment made by Jumba, named Leroy, who is basically another more powerful Stitch, to destroy all 625 of Stitch’s cousins. This is a very fitting finale to the entire franchise. It has a great epic battle, it properly reforms 625 and has him team up with Lilo, and it ties up quite a few loose ends. However, when I really thought back on it, I realized I didn’t really remember much of the movie beyond the ending battle and the resolution with the concert. Also, I didn’t feel as much of a desire to rewatch it as I did with Lilo and Stitch 2. It was a close call here, and it’s a good movie, but Leroy and Stitch just squeaks out a little lower.

Overall Quality – 7.5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +6 They remembered every single experiment outlined in the show and gave names to those who never appeared. They also resolved several storylines and fixed some issues, but I don’t agree with some of the resolutions such as the endings with Mertle and Gantu. Those seemed rushed and undeserving. Also, while I understand why they couldn’t do this, and this is barely a decimal against them, they never did show all 626 experiments after building a TV show based on the premise of reforming every single experiment. Disney had their idiotic 65 episode rule at this point, so they basically went into the series knowing they’d never cover anywhere near that many experiments, but they still dangled that carrot in front of us.

Rewatch Desire5/10

7Return to Neverland (Peter Pan 2)

As I mentioned in my review, Peter Pan wasn’t a beloved Disney classic to me. I just didn’t get into it much, and I always kinda hated Tinkerbell. This entry is one of those movies where it’s just…’fine.’ It’s a fine movie. I didn’t gain much from it. I didn’t lose much from it. It’s fine. I definitely give this movie props for having the balls to have its setting be World War Freakin’ II and having the main plotline with the main character, Jane, daughter of Wendy, be her sacrificing her childhood because of World War Freakin’ II and trying to recapture it with Peter, but other than that it’s a lot of ‘fine.’

Also, I still can’t stop rolling my eyes at the fact that they replaced the alligator with an octopus who makes a popping noise all the time. That was just dumb.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +4 They do very much respect the original movie by showing how much of an impact Peter had on Wendy’s life and how much he still means to her, and I don’t think they do anything to really disrespect the original much. I just wish Peter and Wendy had more interaction besides that brief moment in the end. Also, we never get any information on where Wendy’s brothers are.

Rewatch Desire – 5/10

8 – Stitch! The Movie

I rated this movie higher than Lilo and Stitch 2, but when I was finding a place for it on this list I realized I only barely remember anything about this movie. I remember Stitch feeling like he doesn’t belong….again, and Sparky existing, but that’s about it. Stitch! The Movie is certainly a good intro to Lilo and Stitch the Series, but, looking back on it, I’m not sure I have as much respect for it as a Disquel because, if the series didn’t exist, this movie would just be leading into a giant hole. Likewise, Leroy and Stitch is entirely reliant on the TV series too. If you didn’t watch the series beforehand, you’d be a little lost as to what’s going on in the movie. I’m just imagining someone watching all of the Lilo and Stitch Disquels without realizing there’s a TV show and being horrendously confused.

That being said, the movie isn’t bad by any means, but it lost quite a few spots in the rankings as time went on.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 4/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +3 While they did sort of retcon the original a little by having Stitch lost on his place in the world when that was a pretty good chunk of the first movie, it’s made up for by keeping the original spirit alive in introducing us to Stitch’s cousins.

Rewatch Desire – 5/10

9 – Kronk’s New Groove (The Emperor’s New Groove 2)

There was a whole lot of potential with this Disquel. The Emperor’s New Groove is a fantastic, memorable and very funny movie. A spin-off with Kronk could have worked very well. However, this movie tries to go in so many directions that it ends up going nowhere. It tries so, so hard to be the first movie, but it also tries to be its own thing, and it also tries to follow Disquel formulas while maintaining the ENG style. It’s just too much. And lest we forget that this is one of those three-segmented ‘movies’ that is part of the ‘pretending this ‘movie’ is a ‘movie’ when it’s actually three episodes of a pitched TV show acting as a pilot’ collection. There was some fun to be had here. It’s self-aware, it has a good sense of humor and the story is slightly workable, but it’s cliché as all hell.

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 I feel like I should leave this neutral. It almost goes overboard with how much it references the original and tries to replicate it, but on the other hand it’s also trying to repackage the first movie and resell you something else (A Kronk TV series that was never made, although ENG did get a Disquel TV series that was centered on Kuzco again) and that’s pretty disrespectful.

Rewatch Desire – 5/10

10Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure

I found that, over time, I actually enjoyed this movie more than I first thought. I’ve seen this movie several times at this point, and…I’d watch it again in a heartbeat. Which is weird, because there’s not that much to this movie. It’s a very simple and predictable plot, but…for some reason that works with me? This movie’s problems mostly lie in its Disquelisms (Kid of original main character basically does the first movie in reverse) being very predictable, having an annoying lead character and having a forgettable antagonist who just doesn’t work.

So why do I find myself enjoying the movie whenever I put it on and having a desire to watch it again in the future?….It’s enjoyable and relaxing. The soundtrack’s good with some of the most memorable and well-made lyrical songs of the Disquels. I still sing ‘A World Without Fences’ to myself on occasion….I dunno, I just like it, which is especially weird considering, as I mentioned in the review, I have no attachment to the original movie.

Overall Quality – 5.5/10

Memorability – 6/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 Keeping this neutral because I honestly don’t remember enough about the original movie to say anything either way. They do introduce a new character who was supposedly very important to Tramp’s life and whom he ‘betrayed’ when Tramp left to live with Lady, but he never appeared in the original movie. It’s a very Zira-esque situation. But I’m not sure that counts as disrespect. Moreso laziness.

Rewatch Desire – 6/10

11 – The Lion King 1 ½

How did TLK2 rank so high but TLK 1 ½ doesn’t even get top ten? Well, because, again, looking back on it, this movie didn’t stick with me much. I remember most of it, but nothing stood out as being particularly impacting or funny. And it’s a damn shame that a TLK Disquel is so far down because, as I’ve mentioned, TLK is one of my favorite movies. A midquel with Timon and Pumbaa could have worked so much better than this. They skimped on the stuff with Simba, which is what most people wanted to see, Timon and Pumbaa’s first meeting was lame, and I will never forgive them for that stupid fart joke during the presentation ceremony. That still makes me angry. It’s relatively fine, and could’ve been a lot worse – I did give it a pretty decent overall score – but after mulling it over I can’t find it within myself to put it any higher than eleven.

Overall Quality – 7/10

Memorability – 6/10

Entertainment Value – 6.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -5 I can’t not dock it off for the presentation fart thing. I’m sorry. I thought I’d just get over that, and when I reached this point that wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar, but nope…it’s just too stupid and disrespectful to one of the most memorable and awesome moments in Disney movies. I also REALLY didn’t care for the montage of them trying to sabotage Nala and Simba’s budding romance during ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ However, credit where credit is due, they do otherwise respect the original quite well and even make some pretty decent jokes about key scenes in the movie.

Rewatch Desire – 4/10

12Aladdin and the King of Thieves (Aladdin 3)

Yeah, I was surprised I put this so far down the list too considering I gave it a 7.5. I was just re-reading my review of it and I suddenly had the realization that I never wanted to watch the movie again. I mentioned I had watched it once before the review rewatch, and….yeah, that’s enough. It has pretty decent quality as a Disquel, some good action, and it FINALLY closes out the series proper by marrying Aladdin and Jasmine and showing us what happened to Aladdin’s father, but there’s nothing to really draw me into wanting to watch it again.

I can’t remember any of the songs now, except a short part of ‘There’s a Party in Agrabah,’ the comedy just isn’t there, despite finally getting Robin Williams back as Genie, and that’s because they, for some reason, rely very, very heavily on Disney references, and any drama about Aladdin’s dad is pretty blah once you’ve seen the movie once. I do recommend any Aladdin fan see this movie at least once because it’s definitely worth that price of admission, but beyond that…eh.

Overall Quality – 7.5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 6/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – +1 Pretty benign here. They do respect the original by finally holding Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding (though, again, I’d SWEAR they were married at the end of the first movie. It plays off so much like they’re married.) and they don’t really do anything to disrespect the original movie outside of Genie not having a purpose or being funny. I almost feel like Robin Williams was given no room to improvise like he was in the first movie. There are so many Disney references that it just has to be Disney shoving the script down his throat.

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

13The Return of Jafar (Aladdin 2)

One of the very first Disquels and one that many people seem to hold dear to their heart, myself included a little, The Return of Jafar is alright but just not that strong story-wise. You’d think the return of Jafar, one of the most threatening Disney villains, would warrant a bit more excitement but…pbbt. Most of the movie is made up of redeeming Iago, which is fine but not really all that much of a hook, if you ask me. The fact that Jafar was also technically beaten by Iago is a little on the corny side. It was nice to give him a good scene like that, but it’s just kinda lame.

Couple with that a very corny but just alright-ish mostly soundtrack and animation that is only up to TV standards, plus a Robin William-less Genie and it’s just a bit of a mess. I might feel like watching this movie again in the future, but it’s much less memorable and entertaining than I remembered it being back when I was a kid.

Overall Quality – 5.5/10

Memorability – 4/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -2 Jafar’s a bit of an idiot in this movie, far removed from what he was originally. His main drive is to become a free genie, but he realizes that free genies have much less power than bound ones, soooo….The tone and style are also much schmaltzier than the original. It never commits any big sins against the original, but it also doesn’t really give any good sendups to it either.

Rewatch Desire – 3.5/10

14The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea

When I think of Disquelisms, I always think of TLM2. It is such an unabashed example of the Disquel tropes, it’s actually quite sad. Main character the original main character’s kid? Check. The original movie in reverse? Check. The villain basically being a discount version of the original’s villain? Check. Throw some nonsensical plot threads, some of the worst comic relief sidekicks I’ve ever seen (that are also complete rip-offs of Timon and Pumbaa) and a mediocre to near cringey soundtrack into the mix and this movie just………..

FLOUNDERED! 😀

The only real redeeming factors are that Melody’s an alright character, she had better motivations than Ariel did in the first movie, Ariel herself actually has character development in this movie, and the production values are pretty good for a Disquel. I have a tiny bit of nostalgic fondness for this movie, but I’m not sure I’d ever watch it again. There’s just nothing there to really warrant it.

Overall Quality – 5/10

Memorability – 5/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 Keeping this one neutral because, outside of introducing Ursula’s never mentioned before sister, they don’t do anything one way or another. I can’t say copy-pasting the original movie and reversing it is really respect and not laziness.

Rewatch Desire – 3/10

15Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World

Ahhhh….Pocahontas 2….This one of those situations where I can’t say much more beyond ‘They shouldn’t have even tried.’ This was a lose-lose situation out the gate. People were complaining about how historically inaccurate the original movie was to the true story and how kinda creepy it was to pair up real adult man John Smith with real 12 year old child girl Pocahontas and how disrespectful it was to basically make Native Americans magic and bunch of other stuff, so they tried to make a sequel closer to the original story and more grounded….and it just culminated in people yelling ‘WHO CARES ABOUT HISTORICAL ACCURACY?! MY OTP WAS DESTROYED!! :’(’

The movie, on its own, is quite fine, and, as someone who doesn’t give a duck in a bucket about Pocahontas and John Smith’s relationship, I’m also fine with her going off into the sunset with John Rolfe (who did marry her in real life.) People act like John Rolfe was super boring, but, got news for ya, so is John Smith. As for the movie itself….it’s fine. There’s just not a lot to sink your teeth into and it’s not all that memorable. It does have some funny moments, though, and it tied up several loose ends. It’s very much a lot of ‘fine.’

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – ???? I just bailed on this one because I’m not touching it. One side would argue that it commits the most deplorable of wrongs to the original by splitting up Pocahontas and John Smith in lieu of her being with Rolfe, but another would say it actually does more respect to the original historical story by a mile, and continues on with the themes they were trying to get across in the end of the first movie by having Pocahontas attempt to strengthen relations between the Native Americans and the English settlers. Make your own judgment call here.

Rewatch Desire – 3/10

16 – 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch’s London Adventure

This movie was fun and a relaxing watch, but it really wasn’t memorable at all. Nothing all that interesting happened, Patch isn’t that memorable of a main character, and the plot is predictable. Plus, it’s a little depressing that it’s perfectly understandable for Patch to feel like just another face in a sea of puppies, but to have the climax basically being that his family never does realize he’s missing on their own and they have to find out by seeing his picture in the paper…it’s really just sad. I can’t imagine how hard it is to try and spread yourself so thin that you have to assure 99 puppies that they’re loved equally, but still. In the end, though, there’s nothing terribly wrong with the movie – it’s just that there’s nothing terribly right with it either.

Overall Quality – 5.5/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 4.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 Might as well stay on the neutral path here. Is there even anything from the original to really lend respect to? Not to say the original’s  a bad film, but it’s mostly lacking substance in story and characters. It’s still a cute movie about puppies, so there ya go.

Rewatch Desire – 3/10

17 – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

This one I didn’t rate that bad. However, as Christmas approaches I tend to think of movies/specials etc. that I’d like to watch over the holiday season, and as I was looking over my review of this movie I didn’t even think about considering this one. I also didn’t really remember much of it, either. I remembered Tim Curry as Forte, but as for the actual story, I was pretty much at a loss. Christmas was involved, I think. Looking back, I did enjoy myself a little watching this movie, and despite remembering none of the songs now, apparently they were decent, so I’ll give it points for that, but the movie no longer registers in my mind past, present or future.

Overall Quality – 6.5/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 4.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -1 Doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, that I remember, but it introduces two servant characters who never appeared in the original movie, despite being a midquel, and the criticism of Belle shifting from only liking the Beast when he makes steps to improve himself on his own to seeing him as a project is warranted. Granted, Beast was still trying to improve himself anyway.

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

18 – The Jungle Book 2

I criticized this movie quite a bit for being boring, and, yeah, I still feel that way. I remember more about this movie than I do Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, but not by much. And I think one of the reasons I remember it more is because, for a short while, I was fairly into the two original songs they made for the soundtrack. The art and animation are pretty darn good, and so is the voice acting, but the writing is cliché, the characters’ decisions are very questionable, even though I realize that they’re children, and not much happens over the entire movie. They brought back Shere Khan to dick around for an hour before making his move and then he just ends up getting thwarted rather easily. Not to mention the little bit I’ll get to in the respect section.

Overall Quality – 4/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -6 The ending of this movie completely reverses the message of the first movie. Mowgli was a human child who needed to live a human life. It was safer, it provided more avenues for life fulfillment and happiness, and it was what he ultimately chose. It was a bittersweet reality somewhat akin to The Fox and the Hound. But this movie was like ‘Aw, dat sad. Let me fix it.’ So now the jungle is perfectly safe for children to traverse just because they defeated one tiger, and Mowgli, Shanti, Baloo and Bagheera can live together in harmony. No need to swallow any harsh truths here, folks. I get that some people probably liked this ending, and Disney is all about making unrealistically happy endings, but still. They made one ending that was pretty perfect – stick to it. Show Baloo and Bagheera checking up on Mowgli every now and then or something, but don’t reverse everything…

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

19Tarzan and Jane

Unlike several Disquels that pretended they were legitimate sequels when they were just backdooring a pilot for a TV series, whether or not it got made, this movie changes that up by….repackaging the last few episodes of a TV series that did get made and created some bookends for the stories so it could pretend to be a new movie….Now, I didn’t give this ‘movie’ too much flak despite being…not good, because it did have a few genuinely funny or entertaining moments. However, I can’t help but think of the people who are Tarzan fans who watched the TV series and would be massively disappointed to grab this movie thinking it’s new material when 97% of it isn’t….It’s really sneaky advertising, it’s unfair to the fans, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Hence why, despite the slightly higher ratings, I actually put this one below The Jungle Book 2.

Overall Quality – I gave this movie two ratings; one based on if you’ve seen the series, which was 1/10 and one for if you haven’t, which was 4/10. I was going to split the difference, but I think I’ll just leave it as two ratings.

Memorability – 4/10

Entertainment Value – 4/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 I can’t really think of anything they did in either direction. Maybe the fact that Jane and her father can seemingly speak to animals now, without a lick of explanation as to why and how this is possible (Tarzan can do it because he was raised by them) but that’s probably just something they glazed over in the show itself so they could include all of the animals in the show without it being difficult with Jane and her father.

Rewatch Desire2/10

20Brother Bear 2

Everyone gets a girlfriend. That is this entire movie. Everyone gets a girlfriend. Brother Bear never had a romantic plotline, so they made up for that in spades here. But it was a story centered on brotherhood. It doesn’t need a romantic plotline. It wasn’t ‘missing’ one so much as it didn’t need one, and it would’ve been detriment to the story to try and include one.

As a result, Brother Bear 2 ends up being less about brotherhood (Sitka never shows up, neither does Denahi, and Kenai’s relationship with Koda is now coated in a lot of jealousy and Kenai neglecting Koda.) As I said, it could’ve been worse, and it’s harmless on its own, but this was a purely unnecessary movie that doesn’t do much of anything either. There’s no big lesson learned or anything, it’s the same ‘*gasp* I realized I loved my childhood friend all along!’ plotline you’ve seen a hundred times. Nita’s also not that interesting in the slightest – she doesn’t even make much sense. I’m still not really angry with this movie, despite being a fan of the original, and it does have a few moments that are genuinely good, but its existence is a little insulting just on the basis of ‘GIV EVRY1 A GURLFREND!1’ and I can’t see myself ever watching it again.

Overall Quality – 4/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 3/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -3 They half-disrespected the themes of the original movie. Brotherhood is still a theme, but it takes a backseat to the romance aspect. And much of the brotherhood stuff, even with Rutt and Tuke, is slathered in jealousy and neglect. While I did say that I understood omitting Denahi from appearing because his voice actor passed away, it’s disrespectful to not, ya know, mention him or anything. And there’s no excuse for not including Sitka at all.

Rewatch Desire – 2/10

21Tarzan 2

Goddamn, this movie is boring. And it’s making the situation worse for itself by being a midquel, meaning we know none of this matters anyway. It’s not even exploring anything interesting during the middle of the original movie. It’s literally just what Tarzan was doing during the ‘Son of Man’ segment….and we saw that. So they had to make up some dumb plotline where the ultimate lesson was…be yourself….*sigh* The only redeeming thing in this movie is the song ‘Who Am I’ because it’s pretty catchy and well-made. Also, they did get Phil Collins back for this, which is cool. Otherwise, there is not a single reason to watch this movie.

Overall Quality – 3/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 1/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – 0 It doesn’t do anything, so it can’t do much in this aspect. It does maintain Tarzan and Kala’s sweet relationship and brings back Phil Collins and some of his music, though that might be because he was a big pull in the original movie, but the storyline and placement of this movie makes no sense when you think about it and kinda messes up the story flow of the first movie.

Rewatch Desire – 0.5/10

22Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Hey, do you want to see a solid hour of Cinderella planning parties? No? Well, apparently, Disney thinks you do. Cinderella 2 is another movie in the ‘pretending this ‘movie’ is a ‘movie’ when it’s actually three episodes of a pitched TV show acting as a pilot’ collection, and it was the first Disquel I ever reviewed. It is very boring. It is very stupid. Much of it doesn’t even make sense.

I have no clue why they thought a Cinderella TV show would work in the first place. It’s clear they didn’t think much of it working either because, as I mentioned, Cinderella does nothing but plan parties the whole time. The final segment where a somewhat reformed Anastasia is trying to find love with the baker dude is the only somewhat memorable-ish and decent-ish thing about the movie, and that was retconned. We don’t even see Anastasia actually get reformed in this movie, which might be a decent tale, as we see in Cinderella III. We’re just suddenly supposed to sympathize with her because Cinderella got her happily ever after and she didn’t. Boo hoo.

Overall Quality – 2/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 2/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -2 The movie does mostly nothing of note in the first place, but it reforms an antagonist from the original movie with no reason given as to how or why (At least with Iago in Aladdin 2 they showed him connecting with the characters and slowly lightening up.) but that’s not too bad because reforming Anastasia can actually work. It’s not like they were irredeemable people, besides Bitch – they were just egotistical jerks. I also got the slightest bit insulted in the first segment where Cinderella was actually complaining about her cushy new life as a princess after being magically rescued from an abusive household….

Rewatch Desire – 1.5/10

23Atlantis: Milo’s Return

Entry #37462B-46 of the ‘pretending this ‘movie’ is a ‘movie’ when it’s actually three episodes of a pitched TV show acting as a pilot’ collection….I really liked the original Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I think it’s a slept-on classic. Not the best in the world, but still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It also didn’t warrant a sequel at all. It was a very contained story. But here we are with a sequel that was planning on spawning a sequel TV series that never happened.

This movie’s not completely terrible, but it’s also not good. I have no desire to ever watch it again, and I barely remember anything about it.

Overall Quality – 3/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 3/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -7 I will give it props for keeping basically everyone in character, but this movie did the original dirty when Kida decided it would be oh so intelligent to raise Atlantis to surface level and merge her culture with that of the surface world….all to have material for a TV series that never happened.

They sugarcoat it by pretending everything will be all well and good and everyone will live together in peace, but bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit. They knew that at the end of the first movie, which is why the crew lied about Atlantis when they returned home. Hell, they knew what a terrible idea this was in THIS movie because the only reason there was any conflict on land was because the power of the Atlantean artifacts was causing all sorts of problems on the surface world. Kida risked the safety and well-being of her entire culture, one her late father entrusted to her, one that barely avoided destruction via a surface-dweller mere months prior….because the writers needed a convenient method of making stories for a TV show….that never even happened. Bite me.

Rewatch Desire – 1/10

24Mulan 2

Second verse, same as the first! Now with an asshole dragon! Yup, another movie where they thought ‘Hmm, the original movie didn’t have much romance. Let’s fix that by making the sequel obnoxiously about romance.’ This is such an unnecessary pile of crap. They made Mulan boring and inert, they gave the boys three perfectly suited for each of them princess love interests, they basically made Mulan and Shang’s relationship look bad and like it would probably never last, and they made Mushu into a selfish dumbass who hurts Mulan and tries to break her and Shang up all because he wants to keep being pampered by the other ancestors (who are waiting on him hand and foot for no reason. Also, despite being an asshole the whole movie, he ends up still getting pampered by the other ancestors…) There’s no antagonist, there’s barely a conflict and the barely conflict is fixed via stupidity and tired as hell cliche. As someone who absolutely loved the original Mulan, this movie can rot in a garbage can.

Overall Quality – 2.5/10

Memorability – 3/10

Entertainment Value – 2/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -9 About the only thing this movie respects about the original is the ‘be true to your heart’ thing. Otherwise, Mulan’s a boring sack of dull. Not to mention that Mulan’s pretty focused on love here and even has a couple ‘squeeing’ moments. She battles once very briefly against no-name bandits, but who cares? Also, she needs to be saved by Shang from a marriage she doesn’t want.

Any message against sexism is pretty much null and void because the boys still want girls who suit their every desire and wait on them, and that’s what they get. They do push a message of not forcing people to marry, but I’ve seen some people complain that that message is disrespectful to Chinese culture in regards to arranged marriages because it’s western culture trying to force their views on them, and I get that.

Shang’s being a prick, Mushu’s being a bigger prick and it rewards him for it. Feh. There is one good dramatic moment during Shang’s death fakeout, which actually felt reminiscent of the original movie, but that’s about it.

Rewatch Desire – 0/10

25 – Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World

If you thought trying to make Cinderella into a TV show was a stupid idea that would never work, wait until you hear that Disney was trying to make a TV series as a midquel for Beauty and the Beast. It’s been a long time since I watched this movie, and I still can’t believe that was a plan. Squeeze out seasons worth of material in one or two months, at absolutely most, of a gap in the middle of the original movie. Yikes. The stories and songs here are basically as uninteresting and unmemorable as Cinderella 2, now with less animation quality. As a midquel, we know how everything turns out anyway, especially in the plots that involve strife between Belle and Beast. This movie and pilot idea couldn’t be more pointless.

Overall Quality – 1/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – 1/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – – 3 Beast is just a crazy person in this movie. His attitude is much worse and flip-floppy than in the original movie. Belle is similarly worsened as she becomes slightly childish in her fights with him. The biggest offense this movie commits is really just having the gall to claim all of this happened in a little tiny time frame in the original movie – and all because they don’t have any ideas for Belle and Bea—Adam after the transformation back to normal. They legitimately could have gone for the child-of-previous-main-characters shtick and it would’ve worked a lot better than either movie, to be honest (as long as they did it well, of course.)

Rewatch Desire – 0/10

26 – The Fox and the Hound 2

Thinking about this movie gives me a headache. If there’s one thing I can say for a decent chunk of the Disquels it’s that you can easily identify them as being sequels to the original movie. This movie is so bland and boring and listless and forgettable and so far divorced from what the original movie was that if I explained the full plot to you without mentioning either character’s name (or saying ‘fox’ and ‘hound’) that you’d never believe this plot was a sequ—excuse me, midquel to The Fox and the Hound.

And yes, as if the terrible story and several degrees of separation from the original’s tone, message and pretty much everything weren’t enough, this is a midquel so it’s super pointless to watch this, not to mention depressing. Like, yeah, kids, enjoy watching this cute little friendship withstand a hardship just to eventually realize that they’ll be forced apart by the norms of nature and society as adults! The only good thing I could ever say about this movie is that the music was okay, but as of this moment I can’t even remember any of the music either. It is more than deserving of the runner-up…or runner-down spot on this list.

Overall Quality – 1.5/10

Memorability – 1/10

Entertainment Value – 1.5/10

Original Respect/Disrespect – -9 As if everything I already said wasn’t bad enough, they also tried to imply that Widow Tweed and Amos were going to be romantically linked, which, uh, no. No….And no.

Rewatch Desire – 0/10

27 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2

And the winner of the bottom spot of this ranking list is none other than The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 – or as I like to call it ‘Pain in Movie Form.’ There is nothing this movie did right. Nothing. Not as a movie, not as a Disquel, not as a use for thousands of VHS tapes….Nothing. The art and animation is terrible. The music makes my insides self-immolate. The story is stupid, doesn’t make sense, and the overall message is ridiculously simple and one that was already gone over in the first movie. And it’s one of those stupid ‘someone didn’t get a love interest in the last movie. Gotta give them one now’ plots.

The new girl, whose name I don’t even remember, is literally just a constructed love interest for Quasi because he didn’t get Esmeralda in the end. She’s so boring and one note that it’s actually impressive. I don’t even want to acknowledge that the joke of ‘villain’ even exists. It’s hard to follow Frollo as it is, but they didn’t even try. No no, it was more like they were told to try even less than they intended on trying. Why this movie dares to exist is a mystery I still have yet to solve, and it is more than deserving of the bottom spot on this list.

Overall Quality – 1/10

Memorability – 2/10

Entertainment Value – .5/10 Just for the little kids.

Original Respect/Disrespect

Rewatch Desire0/10

And that finally, completely finishes off Dissecting the Disquels. It’s been a long and bumpy road with some nice detours along the way, but all g–….things must come to an end.

But fear not. Despite the Disquel movies being done, we still have work to do. There’s still Disquels TV shows to explore and……We’ll have to tackle….the live-action reboots. I am scared.


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Animating Halloween: The Addams Family (2019) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky – The Addams Family! *snap snap*

Breakdown: The Addams’ Family has always been a well-respected and awesome franchise. I used to love watching the old TV show, and I am fan of the movies that came out in the 90s. They’re a very cool and creepy family who were never ashamed of who they were. They embraced their creepiness and owned it, and we loved them for it. So when I first saw the trailer for an animated movie, I was actually looking forward to it. The trailer looked fairly promising, and what better time to check out an Addams’ Family reboot than for Animating Halloween?

They definitely went into this movie having a lot of respect for the franchise. While they obviously modernize things and add some stuff, especially considering the freedom that animation provides them, they make a lot of references to the original series, even including the always beloved theme song in the trailers and the movie itself a few times, and they keep pretty much everything in line with what it has always been.

Gomez and Morticia Addams are dreadfully in love, but their family has always been hated and feared by others because of their dark and grotesque manner of living. They adore all things dreary, dirty, horrifying and gruesome, and they have supernatural friends and abilities, to a degree. They’re always playfully doing risky and harmful things in their trap-ridden haunted mansion, but underneath all of the death and destruction, there lies a family that is just as close and loving, if not moreso, than your average family.

In this movie, Gomez and Morticia are driven away again, during their wedding no less, by an angry mob. Morticia wishes for a normal life for her future children. They run over their future butler, Lurch, who is a runaway from the nearby abandoned asylum, and adopt the creepy haunted asylum as home sweet home.

Thirteen years later, Gomez and Morticia have two young children – the oldest, Wednesday, and the youngest, Pugsley. They’ve all been confined to the foggy mansion ever since they arrived because their parents were worried about their safety, so their lives are shaken when the fog lifts and reveals a nearby brightly colored, pristine perfect-person town called Assimilation, where, as you would probably guess, everyone is the same pearl-clutching bland ‘normal’ person who puts on fake smiles and goes overboard being positive and ‘accepting’ when they’re really anything but.

They go just a tiny bit too far with the depiction of these people. I get that it’s supposed to be a parody of those squeaky clean white collar neighborhoods full of stuck up snobs, but it’s a little too blatant. For instance, there’s some pep squad team thing and they sing a song that sounds like a cult that’s not even trying. “What’s so great about being yourself when you can be like everyone else? It’s easy to be happy when you have no choice.”

Enter the giant-bouncy-haired plastic-faced Margaux, who literally created the town of Assimilation. She hosts a home remodeling show, and her biggest project was fixing up an entire town and filling it with happy homeowners. When the Addams’ creepy mansion on the hill is revealed through the lifting fog, she tries to turn their house into another one of the clean, bright and sparkly houses in Assimilation because no one will want to move or stay in the town with a scary house visible in the distance. The Addams’ gladly accept her offer, but are forced to ultimately decline because they have the entire family coming over in the next two weeks and don’t have the time for her remodeling.

Margaux is not as she seems on the surface, however. She secretly installed cameras in all of the remodeled houses of Assimilation, and she frequently pretends to be other people on her neighborhood community app, Neighborhood Peeps, to spread harmful rumors about others so they’ll fall in line or the others in town will force them to leave.

Wednesday, however, is intrigued by the town and the normal people since she has never been outside of the mansion’s grounds. She soon attends the local school and befriends Parker, the daughter of Margaux. She’s a social media obsessed girl who wants her mother’s attention, but also resents that she forces her into the happy peppy pastel coated world her mother has fabricated. She finds Wednesday weird and frightening at first, but comes to respect and like her when she stands up against her bully.

Wednesday slowly starts adopting more colorful clothing styles and branches out more into the ‘normal’ world, while Parker gains the confidence to wear goth/punk styled clothing to rebel against her mother. In Wednesday’s situation, it’s kinda confusing. She expresses that she’s actually disappointed her mother was accepting of her new colorful look, but when she becomes more unaccepting of it, Wednesday runs away to live with Parker. She does treasure her freedom, so maybe she just disliked her mother controlling her more than she liked her anger.

It’s also kinda weird on Morticia’s end. She was the one concerned about her children living a safe and (ab)normal life, but when Wednesday is starting to be accepted by the outside world, she resists against it firmly. I get that a good part of it is Wednesday starting to pull away from her as well, but much of it is reacting to the stuff she’s doing.

When Wednesday goes to Parker’s house, they accidentally find Margaux’s weird lair, much to Parker’s surprise and disgust. Margaux catches them and locks them in the attic so they won’t mess up her plans to drive the Addams out of town so she can destroy their house.

Meanwhile, in plot B, Gomez is trying to prepare Pugsley for his Mazurka, which, in this case, is a very long and complicated dance with a saber that every Addams boy must complete in order to gain the respect of the family and formerly enter manhood. Above all else, though, it’s symbolic of the boy’s ability and drive to protect the family from anyone who would harm them.

Pugsley isn’t doing well with his practice. He’s more of a demolitions kid than a swordfighter, but this Mazurka is a big event. The family is gathering for the first time in thirteen years to see it, and Gomez, an avid swordfighter, put on one of the best Mazurka performances in the family. Puglsey tries his best, but he simply can’t get it down, much to Gomez’s disappointment.

You really feel bad for Pugsley because, even though he doesn’t much care about the Mazurka, he’s still trying his best and working hard to make his dad proud, and it’s just not working out.

The two plots collide when the extended Addams family finally arrives in town for the Mazurka, right as Margaux’s TV show is filming its season finale. Margaux has already planted the seeds in Assimilation to rally the townsfolk against them all, and once the family arrives, they become an all-out angry mob lead by Margaux.

And, ya know, much in same vein as how Arnold’s Halloween tends to get under my skin a little because of how believable it is for a group of idiots to nearly hurt or murder a bunch of kids because they believe they’re aliens, even if these townspeople are overly done, it’s also not outside of the realm of possibility for a town of bubbled up posers to be stirred into an angry mob, even in modern times, and actually attack a family to drive them out based on rumors and being afraid of others for being different. Especially in New Jersey.

Granted, yeah, the Addams family do cause actual harm to others sometimes, though typically not on screen, but they didn’t do anything to the townsfolk besides be weird. In fact, many of them were quite kind and polite to them.

Parker and Wednesday see what she’s about to do from the window, so Wednesday breaks them out of the room to go save her family.

Pugsley, predictably, does poorly in his Mazurka. He apologizes to Gomez for letting him down, but Gomez apologizes for not supporting him and letting him be himself. Just as the Mazurka finishes, Margaux and the townsfolk start slinging boulders through the mansion with a catapult. Gomez asks Pugsley to remember the true meaning of the Mazurka – protecting the family. Gomez hands him one of his bombs and tells Pugsley to go out and do what he does best.

Pugsley does indeed get to strut his stuff with his precious bombs, fighting off the slue of boulders being flung through the walls and protecting the family, but eventually he runs out of bombs before they run out of boulders and it seems like it’s the end of the Addams’ family. In the nick of time, however, Wednesday shows up and uses Icabod, the living tree, to save everyone from the collapsing house. Morticia and Wednesday reunite and make up.

Thing happens to have one bomb up his slee–….Uhm….Anyway, Thing throws the bomb to Pugsley, he blows up the catapult and finishes his own brand of Mazurka.

In a rather sad scene, Gomez reiterates something Morticia said earlier – people can be cruel. As the townsfolk see the Addams’ are just people like them – people that they’ve frightened, attacked and nearly murdered – the citizens realize that THEY were the real monsters all along. Dun dun dunnnn.

Margaux, however, doesn’t see it that way, even after Parker sides with the Addamses. She is completely adamant in destroying their house and making Assimilation and her season finale perfect no matter what. She tries to get the townsfolk back to what they were doing, but Wednesday reveals to them all of Margaux’s hidden cameras in the houses of Assimilation. Even after being ousted, Margaux still doesn’t care about what the townsfolk think. They’re just extras in her show to her, and she won’t let even them come against her.

Parker reveals that none of this matters anyway because she’s been streaming her mother’s tirade since the start. Millions of people have been watching the real Margaux Needler, and it’s caused such a backlash online that her show was immediately canceled. However, she still has a bunch of houses she needs to sell. In comes Fester with his pitch to sell the rest of the houses to the Addams family so they can all live nearby each other.

The townsfolk all offer to help fix up the Addams’ house, melding their ‘normal’ style with the rough gothic chic of the Addams (Although, this gets reverted back to the full dark, dank motif after the spirit haunting the place returns after fleeing from the attack.) Fester not only teams up with Margaux to make a realty company, but he also starts dating her…..which…I found to really unrealistic. I mean, I guess he does love her for the monster she is, but why she would love him back I do not know. Margaux did not have a redemption arc at all. She was horrible from start to finish…and not in the fun way. I’m not sure I like that she was given a happy-ish ending after all that.

Back at the mansion, the family honors Pugsley’s Mazurka and officially commemorates him as a true Addams.

Cousin Itt takes their family picture, and the movie ends with a pretty cool remake of the original 1964 opening theme song sequence of the TV show. I actually checked and did a side by side comparison. They did the entire sequence shot by shot exactly, they even mimicked slight body language like Morticia’s little smile on her second snap and Gomez’s deep breath and side smirk. That was really cool of them.

However….it is kinda ruined when the credits come in and it’s a colorfully animated sequence with a hip hop song behind it….I have nothing against the song itself, it’s actually pretty good if you ask me, but it doesn’t belong in an Addams Family movie…

Overall, it’s a pretty good movie on its own and a much better sendup to an old franchise than a LOT of other reboots and remakes. I found myself laughing several times and smiling through a good chunk of the movie.

There were some bothersome intrusions like I still find it kinda hard to get used to all the modern updates in reboots like this. For instance, the townsfolk were holding up their phones with an app running that showed a torch instead of them actually using torches. I also got very thrown off when they had a segment where Lurch suddenly sings ‘Everybody Hurts’ by REM in a far higher tone than his normal voice as they had a montage of Morticia, Wednesday, Gomez and Pugsley all dealing with their problems in the midway point. What the hell even was that?

There was also another hip-hop song that played when Cousin Itt arrived. He pulled up in a limo and had fancy shoes and a pimp cane and it was playing him up so much. I get it. Cousin Itt is a beloved character and he hadn’t been in most of the movie, so why not make his entrance grandiose? Still, it felt a bit weird. You know what’s also weird? Snoop Dog ‘voices’ Cousin Itt…..Yeah…I…don’t know why either.

The absolute ending was a bit rushed, in my opinion. Like I already said, Margaux’s redemption was not earned in the slightest, not to mention that she suddenly started accepting these ‘freaks’ just because she was able to sell houses to them. The reunion and make up scene between Morticia and Wednesday just kinda fizzled. And they somehow managed to not properly wrap up an ending to a particularly important character.

Anyone notice that I explained the entire ending without mentioning Parker? What the hell happened to her? I had to rewatch the ending to see if she was even shown. She was. She was filming Pugsley’s final ceremony, but she wasn’t even centered in the shot – it was focused on Wednesday giving an approving nod to her brother. Did she make up with her mom? I doubt it. They never show them interacting after Parker literally destroyed her mother’s career. Where does Parker go from here? Is she going to go live with her dad (her parents are divorced), is she going to stay with the Addamses or what? What was the conclusion to her character arc anyway?

Is The Addams Family perfect? No. But given the absolute trash that we’ve had to wade through in regards to reboots and remakes over the past couple of decades, I know for a fact that they could’ve done so, so, so much worse.

They respected the franchise very well, they kept nearly every facet of the original series, though some information was more taken from the ‘90s movies, they added their own spin on it without being too bothersome with the updates and changes, and they managed to do all of that while still being pretty clever, funny, endearing and likable. They even made me give a crap about Pugsley, and I honestly never cared about him in any incarnation.

The art and animation are very stylized, and it works quite well with the Addams Family motif. And the music, while having some questionable tracks, is still really good. The voice acting was also done well. Allison Janney owned her role as Margaux. I think this would be a really good watch, especially around Halloween, for fans of the franchise and for newcomers.

Recommended Audience: This is obviously a bit dark, being The Addams Family, but there was no point where I’d ever consider shielding a child’s eyes from it. The point where I got the most weirded out was when Morticia used the ashes of her parents as eye shadow and blush. That’s about it. 7+

Final Notes: A sequel is being released on Halloween 2021. I’m looking forward to it, and will probably review it, whether for Animating Halloween or otherwise.

Screenshots Courtesy of cap-that.com.


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

Rating: 8.5/10

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

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

Breakdown:

Read Part 1 (In-Depth Analysis) Here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————-

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

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

Goop’s a fun word. Goop goop goop.

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

Rafiki: “Hehehhe, it is a girl.”

Timon: “Girl….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But enough of the meet cute – Alligator attack!

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

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

And damn, Kiara’s laying it on thick.

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

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

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

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

There.

Hope you’re satisfied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also,

I couldn’t not make that reference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kovu: “Kiara, I need to talk to you!”

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

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

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

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

Kovu: “He really was a killer.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of which….

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

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

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

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

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

Nuka: “I’m sorry, mother….I tried.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiara: “You will never be Mufasa!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kovu suggests running away together and…well;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simba: “Last chance, Zira. Go home.”

Zira: “I am home!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simba: “But…they–”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings me to my final point about this.

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

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

I’m an uncultured twit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now onto the second half of the resolution.

Zira: “Vitani, NOW!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 8.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prologue

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

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

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

Simba’s Son/Daughter?

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

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

Or does it?

….Yes.

Well, kinda. Maybe.

The Kopa Theory

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

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

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

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

Kovu’s Origins

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

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

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

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

Kovu and Kiara’s Relationship

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

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

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

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

Disquelisms?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of redoing the original movie, though…

The Doppleganger Soundtrack?

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

He Lives in You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Are One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Lullaby

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

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

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

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

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

Upendi

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

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

One of Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Will Find a Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Character Analyses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simba: “Yeah, but it still hurts.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part two coming soon….


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