My grandfather-turned-widower had this film on VHS ever since its 1998 premiere, though given its lesser status among Disney films it was only a periodic viewing. As my grandfather no longer desired his Panasonic PV-9451 upon moving, I gladly took it into my room. To celebrate a successful hooking up, I decided to view this, as it was the only Disney VHS they had that I have not viewed since I considered becoming a reviewer. Enough backstory, though, so... My response?
Given how it was released in the finale of the Disney Renaissance and was overlooked in favor of Mulan, there are most certainly disadvantages this film is presented with. As WDTA worked on this film, the animation is most certainly of a lower quality than the original (WDAS loses no contests to its subsidiaries). It continues to look fantastic in character design, more than can be said of other DTVs, but the more clunky, less fluid movements hinder it significantly in the action scenes. The new characters also feel as though they came out of, admittedly, a more than acceptable fanfic of The Lion King. They barely have connections to the original and are way too hastily introduced as ones we should, seemingly, be familiar with. At least, though, the acting is above average for a DTV, which in an alleged adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is important. This acting is especially apparent in the music, which I will say is this movie's strongest suit. Most numbers continue the tradition of sounding tribal African, while the major one that isn't makes a pretty underrated villain theme. The story does offer at least one good twist in the minor antagonists immediately coming to terms and has a few good jokes, but it flirts way too often with clichés and predicts, annoyingly early, what could have been a likable convolution (Kiara and Kovu's relationship). Some of the humor is also rather cheap (how Pumbaa reacts to "blast", for example).
To sum this movie up, this most certainly isn't up there with its predecessor, but it does offer a few strong suits of its own that make it, what I consider, among the best (or, as Nostalgia Chick would put it, least awful) Disney Sequels. If you're a fan of The Lion King or want to relive a 1998 childhood, you will take something out of watching this. For most others, you might want to consider giving it a try if only for its killer score.