|Year Released||1998||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||71:53 minutes||Other Extras||None|
Warner Home Video
James Earl Jones
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||No||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Dutch (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Hebrew (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Lion King II story picks up with the 'christening' of Kiara (Neve Campbell), the new daughter of Simba (Matthew Broderick) and Nala (Moira Kelly), who turns out to be very much her father's daughter. Whilst out playing one day Kiara meets Kovu (Jason Marsden), the appointed heir to Scar and the son of Zira (Suzanne Pleshette) - and an outsider who has been exiled because of the association with Scar. Flash forward a year or so and Kiara is a young lioness out for her first hunt when disaster strikes, from which she is rescued by none other than Kovu. What follows is the usual Disney story of good overcoming bad and everyone living happily ever after, except for the unfortunate Zira. A bunch of characters is carried forward from the original film in order to provide continuity, so we have Timon (Nathan Lane), Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) and Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) along to point the way and add their unique brand of humour - sort of (Zazu is here too but not in the hands of Rowan Atkinson). Whereas the original had the theme of The Circle of Life, the theme here is We Are One - which says it all about the two films really.
As far as sequels go, this was always facing an uphill battle because the original was simply so original. It ultimately fails as a sequel because the humour is less original and the story is less original and the songs are less original. You get the drift here. Which is somewhat unfortunate as this is not that bad a film in its own right. It just is not The Lion King. But in the absence of any idea when The Lion King will ever get to DVD, since it is a Disney 'moratorium' title, if you need a fix of Timon, Pumbaa and crew, this will have to suffice.
Presented in a Pan & Scan format (1.33:1), this is not 16x9 enhanced. It is a great disappointment that we have not been blessed with a widescreen release of the film like Region 1 - something that Disney unfortunately seem prone to.
The transfer is reasonably sharp throughout and has a very good definition to it, although the few inherent problems with the original animation that were a little overlooked in the original video release are exposed here. The foreground birds for instance in the opening sequence come up very noticeably out of focus and unnatural compared to the video release, where they were not so noticeable: note that this is not a transfer problem but part of the original animation.
The colours come up quite vibrant, although I was expecting a little more vibrancy than we actually got. At times there was a lack of contrast in the colours, with the overriding predominance of oranges, reds and browns. There were some very minor hints of over saturation of the colours, but nothing too distracting and certainly miles better than the very over saturated feel of the video release.
There were no apparent MPEG artefacts nor did there appear to be any film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts were quite rare during the film, and were in no way distracting to the film.
There are seven audio tracks on the DVD: the English, French and Italian audio tracks are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks whilst the Dutch, Hebrew, Hungarian and Polish audio tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded tracks. I listened to the English default.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.
Audio sync? Err, it's animation, so there is no such thing (or plenty, depending upon your point of view).
The musical score by Nick Glennie-Smith obviously lacks originality as it has to draw somewhat from the score of the original film. However, it was quite evocative and contributed well to the film.
This is a quite well balanced soundtrack, although the rear channels were used only sparingly to provide emphasis to action sequences and ambience during storms and so on. The soundscape is nicely encompassing and you are nicely inserted into the action. The bass channel gets very little use, other than to support of few of the action sequences.
The Region 4 release however misses out on:
The overall video quality is good, if not especially noteworthy.
A good audio transfer.
And Di$ney still have not found the definition of an extra yet, at least in Region 4.
© Ian Morris
21st November 1999
updated 14th December 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|