The circle of life continues as Simba and Nala groom their young cub, Kiara, to become the future queen of the Pride Lands.
Although it might not pack quite the emotional wallop of the original Disney classic, this animated sequel does a good job in showing that, right or wrong, we are often defined by our roots. It also proves that history does repeat itself, as Scar's widow, Zira, turns out to be an even scarier villain who raises her children on hatred and focuses only on avenging Scar's death by killing Simba. Young viewers probably willbe pleased that Kiara and Kovu--the male cub chosen to follow in Scar's paw prints--decide to make peace and reunite their two prides.
Although the movie ultimately has a happy ending, it's too dark and frightening for babies and toddlers. They won't understand the history behind Simba and Zira's animosity, and they won't want to watch all the fighting.
Some scenes may upset preschoolers, like when Zira sings a lullaby to Kovu that includes sentiments like, the battle may be bloody but that kind of works for me," when she commands her pride to attack Simba, and when she orders a wildfire set to trap Kiara. But because the unflappable Kiara always keeps her cool and deals with her problems head-on, children will take their cues from her, feeling empowered and at the top of the food chain. Older kids in this age group, ready for some independence, should easily relate to Kiara's desire to go out on her first hunt alone and her anger when Simba sends Pumbaa and Timon to keep an eye on her. Old enough to recognize the lyrics to "Home on the Range," kids will laugh when Pumbaa and Timon head out across the African plains and Timon says, "This must be where the deer and the antelope play."
Older kids will likely appreciate Simba's hope that the "next generation can do better," and will remember Kiara and Kovu later in life when they read "Romeo and Juliet." They'll also be given food for thought during the powerful opening scene in which Simba realizes that his late father still lives within him, and when Kiara tries to strike a balance between what's expected of her and what she really wants to do. Like Kiara, older kids may become curious about their own family history, inspiring some fascinating and insightful discussions.