Animation Review Part Six: DisneyToon Studios Is The Reason Why Sequels Suck

Since I don’t have much to say about these midquels, I’m going to talk shortly about Disney sequels in general: they suck. Now, I should clarify that statement. No, I haven’t watched every single Disney sequel to be absolutely certain of this, but watching a few is enough to completely deter those efforts. Disney’s sequels feel like cash-grabs because the quality, even from an animation standpoint, almost always falls from the original. But let’s say I don’t like the original; would then a sequel be bearable enough to sit through? My answer is yes.

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The Lion King 1 ½ could easily offend The Lion King fans. However, I’m going to defend it a little bit. Yes, when I talk about a “kid’s movie,” this is exactly what I’m talking about. Obnoxious jokes, colorful colors, fast pace, upbeat songs, dumb characters, simple story, generic message; The Lion King 1 ½ has “kid’s movie” written all over it. But like I said in my The Jungle Book review, I am completely fine with this as long as the movie itself knows it. And The Lion King 1 ½ doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It knows it’s silly, and it’s silly the whole way through. I guess my biggest problem with this movie is that it leans too heavily on the original score of Hans Zimmer, but I thought they did a nice job using limited quantities of footage from the first movie. And actually, the animation isn’t so bad to the point where clips from the original are completely discernible just from a technical standpoint. Although, the songs that are unique to this movie are just god awful. But I think what makes this midquel stick out for me is that it did something that the original was not able to do: it made me laugh.

To follow-up on the question I raised earlier, can a sequel be bearable to sit through if I liked, no, if I loved the original? My answer is, once again, yes.

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Let’s not kid ourselves—Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is a low-end movie. The villain’s CGI sticks out from the 2D medium like a sore thumb and has magical properties about him which doesn’t sit well with me. The other, kind-of-villain is just plain annoying and not important or memorable. The castle is the biggest disappointment in the animation, and the vocal performances are much weaker than the original, although the main song of this movie has nice orchestration. It’s your generic what-is-Christmas-really-about story, but what made this bearable for me was the consistency in characters, symbols, and ideas from the original movie. Belle is still beautiful on the inside. The beast still has heart on the inside, and that couldn’t be made clearer than just from the wide range of facial expressions he makes. The biggest sigh of relief came from the fact they didn’t ruin what the rose meant, although its meaning is made a bit too explicit here. It’s still a totally unnecessary cog in the masterpiece that was Beauty and the Beast, but it’s not a disgraceful nor despicable effort.

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Much like I don’t understand the popularity of The Lion King, I don’t understand why The Lion King 2 is largely considered its inferior—honestly, at least from the sequels I have seen, this is Disney’s best sequel, and maybe one of the few that competes with the original. Although, that statement probably isn’t saying all too much.

One of the reasons why I wanted to review this movie is because Disney took one of the suggestions I made in my The Lion King review. Okay, no, I was four when this movie came out, so they didn’t actually take my suggestion, but I complained about how The Lion King seemed pro-segregation by promoting separation between the lions and the hyenas. This time, they removed the hyenas… for no apparent reason… and replaced the lower-class hyenas with the lower-class lions… I guess Disney really couldn’t stand the idea of uniting the hyenas with the lions. But you know, it’s strange a sequel would compromise the first movie’s premise trying to make a better sequel, and I respect it for that.

In all, The Lion King 2 does well on what The Lion King did poorly, and does poorly on what the original did well. My biggest problem of The Lion King is resolved in this one: the director’s intentions seem present. He wanted to base a story around Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in order to extend Mufasa’s circle of life philosophy to the hyen… I mean the lower-class lions. While The Lion King was all about separation, The Lion King 2 is all about uniting. In the process of doing so, Disney loses the mature tone of the original, but at least the plot is coherent. Simba acts reasonably in this one. While in the first one he would trust anybody, now he has learned that trust is something that should be earned. Kiara is a better Simba. Sure, she disobeys her father, but not in a way that endangers other people’s lives, involves lying, or singing a song basking in one’s own ego. Zazu is treated with respect. He is not seen being beat up in every scene he’s in. Sure, the love story is rather bland, but the story is actually pretty good. It’s about a son who wants to gain the approval of his mother; it’s about an over-protective father who needs to let go a little; it’s about recognizing “we are one.”

Had this movie been at the technical level of The Lion King, I think this would have been at least a B-caliber movie. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The animation and songs are not as good as the original, although the drop-off isn’t as noticeable as one might expect it to be. I think the biggest problem of this movie is that we’ve all seen this before. It’s very predictable, and nothing about it really sticks out. For as much as I despise The Lion King’s success, it is a very memorable experience, in both good and bad ways. In the end, it’s your choice of either style or substance. I’m going to say it’s a tie.

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While I think a lot of these sequels get a lot of hate for being worse than the original, The Little Mermaid 2 is one that is just a plain, bad movie, sequel or no sequel. The Little Mermaid 2 commits three huge crimes. First, the character who we loved from the original movie has been turned into King Triton, and her daughter has been turned into a ten-year-old Ariel; I can hear Ursula saying “pathetic.” In fact, this story is EXACTLY the same as the original. There’s a sea witch, one who can’t perform spells (lame); there’s the two different worlds, one of which the new Ariel is forbidden from, and the one that she longs; this is The Little Mermaid done poorly. Even when stealing the story, it couldn’t do the things we loved from that movie: the songs are terrible, the animation is laughable, the voice actors have been noticeably replaced, the jokes don’t work, the characters seem confusedly switched up and yet familiar, and that’s because this is a rip-off of the original. Out of respect of The Little Mermaid, and out of respect for your own self, please don’t watch this–you won’t regret it.

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