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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar is a "movie" that consists of the title story, which is one extended episode from the TV series The Lion Guard (Episode 5, Season 2), and four episodes from Season 1 ("The Trouble With Galagos," Episode 16; "Janja's New Crew," Episode 17; "Four Baboons," Episode 18; and "Lions of the Outland," Episode 20). In all of them, Kion, son of Simba and Nala, grandson of Mufasa, is the leader of the prestigious Lion Guard, an assortment of lovable and skillful animal characters that protects the Pride Lands. Kion has the remarkable power of "The Roar of the Elders," which enables the Guard's leader to connect with the brave lions of the past. Each story echoes "The Circle of Life" premise of the original movie, and includes significant messages about responsibility, inclusion, teamwork, and the enduring grace and symmetry of nature. Caution: For little kids who are not yet able to discern imaginary from real, there's peril and mild action throughout. Villains, all members of the animal kingdom, are predatory, conniving, or envious. They chase, bare scary teeth, and menace all of the heroes and innocents in their quest for either food or power. Viewers can expect quality all around in keeping with the high standards of the Lion King franchise. The Disney Company has also released new toys related specifically to "The Rise of Scar" episode.
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What's the story?
In the longer, featured title story in THE LION GUARD: THE RISE OF SCAR -- a compilation of five episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 of The Lion Guard television series -- it's the dry season in the Pride Lands. The heat and lack of water and food threaten survival. It's up to Ma Tembo (voiced by Lynette Dupree), matriarch of the elephants, to lead all the creatures to a new water source. Janja (Andrew Kishino) and his laughing hyena sidekicks are impatient, and they menace the lions and anyone else they think would make a good meal. Young lion leader Kion (Max Charles) and his loyal guards step up and protect them all. At the same time, Rafiki (Khary Payton) introduces a new apprentice, Makini (Landry Bender), an inexperienced female mandrill who will follow him as The Knowledge Keeper. As Makini learns the responsibilities of her future role, Ushari, the snake (Christian Slater), teams up with Janja to manipulate her and her mystical Bakora staff. They hope to reach out to the mighty elephants of the past, as Kion does, using his control of The Roar, a gift that only he has been granted. Ushari and Janja are determined to resurrect Scar, the most dangerously evil lion of all. And that might prove to be a calamity that only future episodes of the show can deal with.
Is it any good?
If audiences don't mind the fact that this "movie" is a compilation of episodes earlier broadcast on The Lion Guard TV series, it's a treat for kids and fans of the popular Lion King franchise. The characters are, as always, well-defined and funny, and often deliver sound and significant messages to young audiences. The original songs are bright and catchy. The performances in The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar are all strong; the story is intriguing; the animation is first-rate. Still, despite the well-earned acclaim of this Disney entry, it's not appropriate for little ones who are not yet able to distinguish real from pretend. Beloved characters are often in danger, villains are noisy and threatening, and action is plentiful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the fact that studios, especially those marketing products for kids, choose to build their DVD inventory with compilations of episodes from television programs. What are your thoughts about this corporate concept? Did you know that The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar was a collection of previously aired segments?
What do you think is meant by the statement: "The hardest part of listening is finding the quiet to hear." How did the story demonstrate this concept?
Do you know the meaning of the film term "cliffhanger"? In what way is the ending of the Rise of Scar tale a cliffhanger? What do film companies gain by ending their movies this way?
What character strengths and skills are emphasized in this movie? What did Makini learn by the end of the Scar story?
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