The Lion King II: Simba's Pride appears in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio on this Blu-ray Disc. Other Disney “direct-to-video” projects have been a bit iffy due to cheap animation, but this one looked quite lush and attractive.
Sharpness appeared consistently fine and crisp. Virtually no instances of softness crept into this tight and concise presentation. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, as was edge enhancement. Print quality appeared terrific, with no flaws of any kind to be found.
Colors looked fantastic throughout the film. They seemed consistently bright and bold with no evidence of smearing or other problems. The film used a palette oriented toward natural earthy tones, and the disc reproduced them nicely. Black levels appeared nearly ideal, with good depth and darkness, while shadow detail looked appropriate and nicely translucent. I found Lion King II to provide a very satisfying visual experience.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio generated a strong soundfield, with a forward emphasis but also with a nice surround effect. Sound from the front channels was well-defined and nicely placed but avoided seeming too localized, and audio panned cleanly across the speakers. A nice complement of effects and music came from the rears, and this audio helped round out the image to provide an effective mix.
Audio quality seemed very good. Dialogue always came across as smooth and concise, with no edginess or issues connected to intelligibility. Effects sounded bold and dynamic, with nice support from the lower end. Music also was full-bodied and rich and they present no distortion. This was a satisfying auditory production.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the 2004 SE release? Audio was a bit warmer and fuller, and visuals showed the usual improvements, with greater accuracy and tightness. Colors also appeared livelier. The old DVD looked/sounded just fine, but the Blu-ray created a more dynamic experience.
Oddly, the Blu-ray drops a lot of the extras from the 2004 DVD, though it does provide one new element: Timon and Pumbaa’s Insectapedia. This five-minute, 30-second reel offers info about bugs from Pumbaa (voiced by original actor Ernie Sabella) and Timon (acted by some replacement). The short is moderately entertaining and may be informative for kids.
Everything else repeats from the 2004 DVD. We get a music video for “Love Will Find a Way” by Kenny Lattimore and Heather Headley. It’s little more than the usual lip-synch/movie snippet blandness, though it emphasizes the singers’ emoting more than the shots from the flick.
Find Out Why presents five short featurettes to explain the facts behind certain concepts. Each one goes for 90 seconds – with a total running time of 7:35 - as they cover topics like how airplanes fly and why pandas don’t live in the desert. Timon and Pumbaa explain things. These are fun and informative pieces for kids. (Note that Nathan Lane appears here instead of the Timon faker heard elsewhere.)
More facts show up in Lots About Lions. This two-minute and 52-second piece brings back Timon (played by the Timon imposter) and Pumbaa to offer basic facts about lions. It’s not as much fun as “Find Out Why”, but it provides decent basics for kids.
“Backstage” ends with a featurette called Proud of Simba’s Pride. It runs six minutes, 49 seconds as we get notes from director Darrell Rooney, executive in charge of production Sharon Morrill, producer Jeannine Roussel, and actors Sabella, Lane, Neve Campbell, Matthew Broderick, Suzanne Pleshette, and Jason Marsden. It goes through basic production notes like the story, challenges of following the original, themes, and the visual look. It’s a very basic piece without depth, so while it seems mildly entertaining, it doesn’t tell us much.
The extras end with an original short called One By One. This five-minute and 42-second cartoon is about African children who make homemade kites. The piece is visually attractive but not very interesting.
The disc opens with ads for DisneyNature: Chimpanzee and Cinderella. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Finding Nemo, the Lion King stage production, Disney Parks, Secret of the Wings and Treasure Buddies.
A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Pride. This includes one extra – the “Insectapedia” – and that’s it. I guess it’s nice if you want a portable copy of the film, but it’s too bad that Disney didn’t simply toss in the old SE DVD so we’d get all of its bonus materials.
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride offers a rather blah semi-remake of the original and should provide little of interest in the long run. Of the three Lion King films to date, it’s easily the least compelling, as I much preferred the original flick as well as the wacky Lion King 1 ½. As for the Blu-ray, picture and sound seemed excellent, but the supplements were lackluster at best. Though this gives us a good reproduction of the film, I don’t think you get a lot of value for something with a list price of nearly $40.
To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of THE LION KING 2: SIMBA'S PRIDE