The Lion King

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Cute cubs and cool tech. That’s what’s most impressive about the new version of The Lion King. And the voice work, particularly Seth Rogen and John Oliver.

The Lion King has been a gold mine for Disney. The original film in 1994 was that year’s 2nd biggest film behind Forrest Gump and the stage productions on Broadway and elsewhere have run for decades will still be performed when you and I are long gone.

So don’t ask why this new version was made. It was made because computer animators are ridiculously adept with natural-looking renderings. It was made because director Jon Favreau and crew did such a good job with 2016’s The Jungle Book remake. And it was made to allow a more contemporary cast of voices.

The 1994 version remains a classic. But the new telling of the same story provides a fresh take for fans of the original with new versions of The Lion King’s classic songs. For a new generation, this is their version.

The appearances and the movements of all the animals are stunningly realistic. At some points, this film resembles a Disney nature film. The baby lions Simba and Nala are cuter than your own cute kitty at her/his cutest. If they sold plush toys at the theater, you’d want to get one on your way out.

Regarding the voices: I missed Robert Guillaume’s wonderful work as Rafiki the mandrill from the original and Jeremy Irons’s menacing voice as Scar. Other than those characters, the new voice acting crew is does a nice job.

Donald Glover and Beyonce Knowles-Carter are the voices of the mature Simba and Nala. John Oliver is Zazu, a bird. (If you watch his Sunday night HBO show, it’s weird to hear him without an occasional F-bomb.) Seth Rogen is Pumba the warthog. Billy Eichner as Timon the meerkat is just a strong as Nathan Lane was in the ’94 TLK. Hakuna Matata, indeed.

The great James Earl Jones is Mufasa in both versions. Couldn’t find anybody to replace him!

If the first version hadn’t been made in 1994, would this new version have the impact in 2019 that the original had? I think probably not. But that’s a discussion you can have in the car on the way home from the movie.

Then have it again in 20 years when the hologram version is presented in your family room with a whole new cast of voice actors. The Lion King, you see, has its own Circle Of Life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mirror, Mirror”—(Lily=White)

“Mirror, Mirror” is a sweet, funny retelling of the “Snow White” story. There’s much to like here, including seven small people who add huge amounts of charm.

“Mirror, Mirror,” is a live action film that has the look of an animated film. Many of the characters look like real people but could pass for animated characters. Many of the cartoon-like settings obviously were created with a bit of computer help. And the movie contains some ridiculous situations and one-liners that could’ve been borrowed from a “Shrek” script.

Lily Collins as Snow White is impossibly gorgeous, resembling young versions of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Despite her delicate beauty, she readily jumps into action scenes. Her faceoff with Prince Alcott, played by Armie Hammer, is a wonderfully staged scene that mixes flirty romance with artful swordplay.

Hammer, best known for playing the bitter Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network” and Clyde Tolson in “J. Edgar,” shows he can deliver physical and verbal humor. Appearing shirtless in several scenes, he also provides eye candy for the ladies.

Julia Roberts is The Queen, who drops a few funny lines, while maintaining her evil wickedness. Nathan Lane is Brighton, another character with a cartoonish look, the Queen’s attendant, who is not quite evil enough to be a henchman.

The real spice for this movie comes from the little people who play the Seven Dwarfs. Here are more real people who have cartoonish characteristics. They’re likeable. They’re funny. They’re bandits. And they are good fighters—an important factor as the film approaches its climax. Don’t try to match them up with the Disney Dwarfs; these have more personality. Their names, in no particular order, are: Half Pint, Wolf, Grimm, Grub, Chuckles, Butcher and Napoleon.

This is a family friendly, PG-rated film, which is perfect for moms and daughters. There is a scary beast that appears during the final battle, but the depiction is not overly frightening.

The costuming is impressive. The tempo is consistent. And, once again, good overcomes evil.

After a winter with little snow, spring brings a really good Snow.