The world of Disney sequels is a tricky one. Many of them are cheap knock-offs of original films that captured our hearts. Then you have a select few, like the surprising 'Bambi 2,' which aren't half bad. When it comes to 'Lion King' sequels you can put 'Lion King 1 1/2' in that same category. Is it anywhere near as good or memorable as the original movie? No way! Does it have its moments as a somewhat cheesy, but passable revisiting of beloved characters? Sure.
This sequel focuses mainly on the stories of Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella). The key here is that 'Lion King 1 1/2' doesn't take itself seriously and neither should you. We get to see what events led Timon to Pumbaa and then the both of them to the wonderfully tropical paradise where in the future they meet Simba.
Timon starts off as the screw-up in a family of meerkats. He's always causing trouble and ruining everything. So, in order to fix it he sets off on his own. The opening meerkat song, while unmemorable is kind of funny. It captures the skittishness of meerkats perfectly. Most of the songs are forgettable though. That's just something to expect when you sit down to watch a Disney sequel.
What this one turns into is kind of a parody of the first film. It shows Timon and Pumbaa, after they've met, finding themselves in situations that we remember from the original movie. They're there when Simba is held up in front of the whole Pridelands, but they don't care much. They're trying to find a new paradise to call home. They stumble upon the elephant graveyard the same time Simba and Nala do. They find themselves staring at a line of creepy marching hyenas who are performing in Scar's musical number.
Like I said, the key to enjoying this movie is to not take these parts seriously. If you take them seriously then they only serve to undercut the real weight and drama that the original movie had during those memorable scenes. If you think of it as a parody then you'll find yourself enjoying it much more.
Even Timon and Pumbaa don't take it too seriously, since much of the movie is spent in 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' mode where both of them are sitting, silhouetted, in movie seats watching and commenting on their own movie.
The movie never tries to get too dramatic or interject any of the real weighty issues that made the original movie such a good film. Instead this is simply 76 minutes of occasionally funny jokes, which are surprisingly well thought out sometimes.
There are plenty of Pumbaa fart jokes to go around. Yes, some of the jokes here are lowest common denominator sort of stuff, but were you expecting anything else? Call me juvenile, but there's a very funny booger gag in the movie that caught me off guard and had me laughing. I don't know. You really just have to go with it or you'll find yourself sneering at the screen. If you found Timon and Pumbaa in anyway annoying the first go around, then this movie isn't for you. However, it may be for your children. The animation is bright and colorful, there are some jokes that will resonate with them and they get to spend some time with characters they already know. It could've been worse.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
When 'The Lion King' was first released on Blu-ray, this movie came strictly in a large 'Lion King Trilogy' boxset. It only just recently received a standalone release along with 'The Lion King 2.' This release comes in a 2-Disc package. One disc is the 50GB Blu-ray Disc and the other is a DVD copy of the movie. They're packaged in a standard Blu-ray keepcase, with an outer slipcover. This release is region free.
Say what you will about the content quality of Disney sequels, but when it comes to visual quality 'Lion King 1 1/2' is every bit as jaw-droppingly stupendous as the original on Blu-ray. The animation here is extremely vibrant. The attention to detail is evident throughout the movie. From the lush rainforest backdrops to the stark desert sand, the movie features a wide variety of breathtaking vistas.
Lines are impeccably presented. Colors are beautiful and effervescent. Blacks are deep and distinct. The silhouettes of Timon and Pumbaa that pop up every now and then to comment on the movie are as inky black as blacks come. Even though the animation may look a little more cartoonish than the original film, everything shown here is nothing less than greatness as far as video presentation is concerned. Whether you're getting this release to add to your Disney collection or you're just getting it to keep the kids entertained for an hour or so, you should be happy in knowing that you're getting a demo-quality transfer.
This may be an inferior film, but Disney has treated it with extreme care, just like it does with its other movies.
There's no DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix this time around. Disney saw fit to give the original film the extra two-channel upgrade, but 'Lion King 1 1/2' remains with a 5.1 surround sound mix. This lossless mix isn't anywhere near the ferocity of 'The Lion King's audio presentation. It doesn't have that extra oomph that the original sound design has. This movie is mixed more like a Saturday morning cartoon rather than a feature film. It just doesn't have the as big of a roar, so to speak.
The movie's forgettable song numbers travel throughout the sound stage but never come close to eclipsing the way the songs sound on 'The Lion King's Blu-ray release. These ones just sound a little flat and a tad lifeless. Ambient effects like animals roaring, yipping, and cawing can be heard routinely in the rear speakers while the sub-woofer has ample room to produce low-end hoof beats from charging wildebeests. Finally, dialogue is always clear. What we have here is an audio presentation that does fine by the movie, but fails to live up to its predecessor.
I was prepared for something awful and got something that actually contained a few laughs. It wasn't that bad if you sat back and didn't take its situations seriously. It's a parody and should be viewed as such. The video is superb, like only Disney can do. The audio is good, but still comes across as generic. It's worth a look, especially if you're kids are really into 'The Lion King' or Disney movies in general.