Tag Archives: Jon Favreau

The Lion King (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

The Lion King Review

Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Jeff Nathanson (screenplay by), Brenda Chapman (story)
Stars: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen

Did The Lion King need to be remade? Of course not, but you can say that about any movie.

However, this one isn’t simply a remake. As nearly everyone already knows by now, it’s almost the exact same film, right down to the songs, music score, title card, jokes, dialogue and iconic scenes (many of which are shot at identical angles or perspectives). James Earl Jones even returns to voice Mufasa. The only significant difference is the animation…CGI and motion-capture that makes everything (mostly) look like live action.

My initial reaction was that this version might be as redundant as Gus Van Sant’s misguided scene-for-scene remake of Psycho. Why crank out the same thing when the original was not-only groundbreaking, it remains culturally relevant decades later? Even though I’m a middle-aged curmudgeon who remembers – and often misses – the days of traditional hand-drawn animation, I certainly understand the aesthetic appeal of computer animation…as long as it still looks like animation.

The family dog notwithstanding, animals ain’t all that expressive, so by designing the characters in the new Lion King to be as realistic as their counterparts in the wild, their personalities are severely muted, as is our emotional investment in them. That also makes it pretty tough for the exact same dialogue, jokes and songs to go over as effectively as they did 25 years ago, despite an impressive cast (though Seth Rogan, voicing Pumba, comes close).

A few new wrinkles are sprinkled-in here and there. How Rafiki learns Simba’s still alive is creatively amusing (like anything involving dung beetles) and the hyenas have a few more chuckleworthy scenes. But most of the added material is inconsequential. Other than that, this is the shiny penny version of The Lion King you grew up with.

But people like shiny things, and in that respect, The Lion King admittedly hits a home run (and is therefore not as redundant as Psycho). The animation is meticulous, an astounding amount of detail poured into every shot. It’s a technological wonder and the imagery alone makes it worth checking out at least once. Director Jon Favreau and his crew of computer nerds may not have added anything significant to the narrative, but visually, they’ve certainly taken what they learned from The Jungle Book and amplified it tenfold.

For a lot of viewers – kids especially – the eye candy may be enough, perhaps even preferable to the barbaric methods used to animate critters back in the ancient ‘90s. Since the story itself is bereft of any surprises whatsoever, The Lion King is obviously intended for those who enjoy paying to have their cars detailed: It’s still the same old vehicle, but for a brief time, you feel like you’re driving a shiny new set o’ wheels.

The Lion King (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

The Lion King ReviewThe story is nearly a beat for beat, scene for scene remake, even more so than Aladdin earlier this year. Like Aladdin, Lion King makes a few (much smaller) changes from the animated original, but here they are often either not enough or not for the better (as with Aladdin).  It is so similar in fact, that halfway through I asked myself why was this even made?

Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Jeff Nathanson (screenplay by), Brenda Chapman (story)
Stars: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see The Lion King this weekend!!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

OK, C’mon, everyone knows The Lion King, right?  If you do not, I’m sure you’ve read Hamlet or maybe you are familiar with Japan’s Kimba the White Lion…..Oh wait … never mind.  Forget I brought that up.  We’re talking about Disney’s very own, totally original, The Lion King!  Hakuna Matata and all that?  You all at least remember the 90’s smash animated hit!  We’ll this is that, only with very realistic CGI animals!  Got it?  Good.  Directed by Jon Favreau, who directed the other CGI Disney update, with great box office  results, in the Jungle Book.  The voice cast are as follows: James Earl Jones returns as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogan as Pumbaa and a lot more, but that covers the most popular roles.  So how does this live action (does it count as live action if it’s all CGI?) version hold up?  Does it stand on its own paws?  Let’s break open the nearest log, grab some grubs, tune up our singing voices, leap from smiling giraffe to smiling giraffe and find out!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I am a big fan of the Lion King.  My kids loved it growing up and I often told both my sons as they grew ever older and bolder  “Mufasas not dead yet boys, go clean your room.” or something to that effect many times over the years.  Needless to say, we are intimately familiar with the animated film.   So I am a tough audience for this one.  First let me say this is a visually stunning film.  Like wow!  All the credit to the camera work and direction.  This movie is gorgeous to look at.  The CGI animals are amazing!  They are so lifelike that you nearly forget they are CGI despite the talking.  And therein lies the rub,  it is almost too realistic for its own good.  In its efforts to look like real animals, the characters lose nearly (not all) of their expressions and much of the personalities from the original seem less as a result.

The story is nearly a beat for beat, scene for scene remake, even more so than Aladdin earlier this year. Like Aladdin, Lion King makes a few (much smaller) changes from the animated original, but here they are often either not enough or not for the better (as with Aladdin).  It is so similar in fact, that halfway through I asked myself why was this even made?

The songs do not hold a candle to the original version.  It seemed as if they slowed down all of the songs. Maybe they were attempting to tone it down to match the realism, but it pales in comparison to the original or the Broadway smash version that many are familiar with. Be Prepared suffers the most, by drastic changes (to make the Hyenas less goofy and more dangerous, which I get) but the song becomes nearly a spoken word version and a short one at that!  Only, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, holds up, but hey it has Beyonce singing and it was slow to begin with.

Jones, Glover, and Ejiofor are fine, but my biggest surprise was Eichner and Rogan.  I was absolutely NOT on board with them as Timon and Pumbaa when casted, but I humbly apologize.  They are amazing as The No Worries duo!  They are very Meta in many of their jokes and they give us a Disney easter egg that brings the house down in place of the old drag/hula dancing scene that is replaced from the original.  No spoilers, but very funny.  They probably took on the toughest jobs as far as filling shoes made famous in the original and they nailed it!

So…A beautiful film with some great voice work, but it feels longer than it should have been and in a film nearly the entire world knows scene by scene, it just doesn’t give me anything new to be excited about.  It just seemed unnecessary.  We have the perfect version of this movie available to us already.  The same could be said for Aladdin, but the new version of Aladdin gave us a new viewpoint to see Jasmine through and a great end of the story for Genie.  Lion King does nothing new story wise and other than being an achievement in visual effects, brings nothing else to the table. In conclusion, It’s a decent, if unspectacular (other than visuals) movie.  The Lion King is known for its music and here the new version fails hard and that is a cardinal sin in a musical.  I’m going to give The Lion King 2019 3.5 Bills.  It’s better than Meh, but not quite Pretty Good.  Nothing new to get excited about.   I’d catch it on Disney + sometime soon.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  OK, I’m back again!  It’s me.  I’ll give Hubby a break typing and hit you up with my bullet style review!

-We are huge fans of the original at our house!  We have very fond memories of multiple viewings and many Disney sing a longs!  I’m sorry to say this one missed the mark for me.  “Be Prepared” to not be wowed!

-CGI effects were good, but could have displayed a bit more expression.  Trying to appear real is one thing, but they are talking animals afterall, a bit more expressiveness couldn’t hurt.

-The movie seemed overall very flat to me. Not nearly as energetic or colorful as the original and the music seemed dull in comparison.  Nothing seemed as lively or fun as the original and fair or not, this will always be judged alongside the first film.
-Outside of the original voice of Mufasa returning, the voices were all forgettable with the exception of Timon and Pumbaa, I’ll get to them later.  For instance Beyonce, Forgettable!  How often do you use the name Beyonce and Forgettable in the same sentence?  Never!  Until now! No new songs were added for her and if I didn’t know going in I would never have known it was even her!

-The humor was nearly all gone!  Only Timon and Pumbaa added any, and barely any at that!  The Hyenas were played for scares here and weren’t funny at all.
-Rafiki had nearly zero dialogue and never had his “staple” staff until the very end.
-Timon and Pumbaa were the best of the voice actors, but even they seemed a bit slower and were missing the fast pace timing of the original buddies.

I gave this movie 3 Bills, only out of respect for the original I am such a fan of.  Without my sentimentality, it would have been even lower!  I found the attempts at realism to stink!  Give me more smiles and gestures!  I know that doesn’t happen in nature, but neither does talking, singing or monarchies!

On the way home, We talked about the original Lion King and how even the Jungle Book’s CGI version was far better.  We boiled it down to this,  Jungle Book changed more than a few things from the original where Lion King’s changes were minimal.  If they had done the same with Lion King, they may have succeeded a bit more.  To make it so much like the original and then change only what people liked (lively music, color, expressions) a lot gets lost despite it being a shot for shot remake.   Thanks to my 3.5 Bills and the Mrs. 3 Bills, The Lion King ends up with an average of 3 Bills!  So Meh.  Not quite a Lion King, maybe a Lion Duke or something.

So until next time, remember Hakuna Matata my friends, you win some you lose some.  No worries, I’m sure Disney will get it right by the time they finish Mulan and Little Mermaid, at least we hope so!  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!