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[REVIEW] ‘The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar’ DVD

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When I reviewed Tangled: The Series: Queen for a Day, I compared it to Disney’s direct-to-video animated sequels of the early-mid 2000’s. I said that I felt it was actually a qualitative step up from those films. I wish I could say the same about The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar, a special extended episode of Disney Junior’s seemingly popular Lion King spin-off series The Lion Guard. (This episode first aired way back in July but is just now being released on DVD for some reason.)

In The Rise of Scar, after using the Roar of the Elders in anger, Simba’s youngest son Kion unwittingly summons the Pride Lands’ greatest villain, Scar, voiced here by Selma actor David Oyelowo. Other notable additions to the show’s regular cast of characters include a snake named Ushari (Christian Slater) and Makini, Rafiki’s young apprentice (Landry Bender).

The Lion Guard airs on Disney Junior rather than Disney Channel proper, so it’s not surprising that it skews a bit younger than The Lion King or something like Tangled: The Series, but even with that in mind, I’m disappointed in this production. I don’t watch The Lion Guard on a regular basis, but I’m familiar enough with the show and I did watch the extended pilot, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, when it aired a couple of years ago. I remember liking the pilot episode, so I was looking forward to reviewing The Rise of Scar, expecting to like it just as much.

I’m not sure how typical this is of The Lion Guard as of late, but so much of The Rise of Scar and the other episodes of the show included here just feels stale to me — the songs, the dialogue, and even some of the voice acting. Thankfully, the animation is nice and is mostly consistent with the original film and its sequels, but that isn’t enough to warrant a recommendation from me. Based on what I’m seeing here, it seems like the show is running out of steam and should maybe take a break or find some way to refresh.

My disappointment in The Rise of Scar also stems from what I consider a rather misleading title. Yes, Scar is (sort of) resurrected, and he’s mentioned several times throughout the episode, but he doesn’t actually come into play until the very end — and by “the very end,” I mean the last three minutes of the episode.This sets up future episodes of The Lion Guard, four of which are included in this release as well, but I don’t understand why a fifty minute episode titled The Rise of Scar has so little to do with the villain himself.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing horrible about The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar. I’m sure young viewers and fans of the show would find it entertaining enough. But as a fan of The Lion King myself, I expected more from this release and can’t recommend anyone go out of their way to own this on DVD. Disney’s creating some stellar animated content for TV right now, whether you’re talking about Tangled: The Series or even Vampirina, so it’s a shame that The Lion Guard doesn’t seem to be living up to its potential. But hey, hakuna matata, right?Disney-The-Lion-Guard-Rise-of-Scar-DVD

Purchase The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar

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About Angelo Thomas

Angelo Thomas is a writer, director, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to writing for Rotoscopers, he writes for The Royal Blog of Oz and guest hosts The Royal Podcast of Oz. Angelo was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently studying Film & Video in Columbus, Ohio at the Columbus College of Art & Design, where he has also worked as an assistant in Marketing & Communications. His favorite film of all time is The Wizard of Oz, which has influenced much of his personal and professional work. In terms of his love for animation, Tangled and Frozen aren't just great animated films in his opinion — they're some of the best films ever made. Angelo is always prepared to give and defend his opinions when it comes to film and animation, which he often does on social media. He can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr @imangelothomas.
  • Sounds like this part of the saga ruins the baddie, especially one such as Scar who is considered one of Disney’s best villains. Though the name David Oyelowo excited me a lot since he voices a baddie-turned-renegade in “Star Wars Rebels”.

    • ScratStitch

      It doesn’t ruin Scar at all. He literally comes springing out of Hell and announces himself to the hyenas. It’s pretty awesome.

  • Juuchan17

    This whole “movie” was just a way to set up the remainder of the 2nd season, which honestly having the former TLK villain and great-uncle of the main lead, Kion, returning to be a threat, THAT SOUNDED AWESOME. However, I do agree with you that this intro to that plot was very underwhelming.

    The only good things that came from this “movie” (in my opinion) are all the lore about Scar, the whole thing with Kion speaking with Mufasa is somewhat explained, and also the shamanic mandrills like Rafiki & Makini (who was curious yet VERY annoying, but unexpectedly led to kickstarting the plot). Also, Scar’s voice. David Oyelowo rocked the role, making him sound like a real threat (even though he barely does anything).

    But yeah, my hopes for this series have begun to wane, mainly because it is a Disney Junior series. The stakes aren’t a problem and situations are solved easily with the Guard & Pridelands feeling no aftereffects at all. If this were a Disney cartoon like the much-better “Tangled: the Series” is, there would be much more tension and cause & effect for the members of the Guard when they act too reckless. Maybe they should learn that others sometimes HAVE to die and bad things have to happen in order to make the Circle of Life continue (which is what the Guard is supposed to be protecting, by the way). It’s a huge problem for a show that is basically a kid-friendly “The Avengers: Pridelands”. (No, really.)

  • ScratStitch

    You can’t review this as a “sequel.” It’s an extended episode of the series. And there’s no review or feedback whatsoever on the bonus episodes included on here, all of which I would imagine include Scar. But you can’t review it as a “sequel.” It’s a set-up for the rest of Season 2.

    The animation on this series is also astonishing, possibly the best Disney has ever produced for TV.

    • Adé Ben-Sal

      None of the bonus episodes on the DVD are from post-“Rise of Scar”, they’re just episodes from late Season 1, which is a confusing choice because every other episode since July has had a Scar-related plot point, and the most recent episode had Kion catch a glimpse of the ghost as a cliffhanger.