Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

My Review of THE LION KING

The Lion King, rated PG
** ½

The Lion King is a remake of the popular 1994 animated film, which is also a successful stage musical. The film, being referred to as “live action”, is entertaining and the computer-generated imagery (GGI) is incredible. However, the film comes across as a bit flat, without emotion or as much of the humor of the original. In addition, there are scenes that are dark and violent that will be scary for young children.
The film was directed by Emmy nominee Jon Favreau (Dinner for Five, The Jungle Book, Iron Man, Chef). The screenplay was written by Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can). The film had a budget of approximately $250 million, and had an opening weekend gross in the U.S. of $191 million.
This film basically follows the storyline of the original film. Simba is the King’s son and future king of Pride Rock. JD McCrary voices the young Simba, and Golden Globe winner Donald Glover (Atlanta), the older Simba. Simba wants to grow up too quickly, and as a result, doesn’t always do what his father Mufasa, voiced by Oscar nominee James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope), wants him to do, which inevitably gets him into trouble. Nala, voiced by Beyoncé, is Simba’s best friend.
Scar, voiced by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), is the King’s jealous brother, who wants to be King. We see him mislead Simba on a few occasions because has a plan to make himself the tribe’s leader, which calls for collaborating with a pack of hyenas.
I enjoyed the film, but there was just something missing from making it a truly special film. For one, there was not as much humor in this version as there was in the original. The exception was Timon, voiced by two-time Emmy nominee Billy Eichner (Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street) and Pumbaa, voiced by Emmy nominee Seth Rogan (Da Ali G Show). The music, even the songs you loved from the original film, seemed to fall flat. And perhaps most of all, the film seemed to lack in emotion.
The musical score is by Hans Zimmer, ten-time Oscar nominee and winner for The Lion King, with songs by Elton John, Tim Rice and some new music as well.
Content concerns in the film include dark and violent scenes that will be too scary for young children. Themes include the relationship between a father and a son, sacrificing for others, deception, and guilt.
The Lion King is a beautiful and entertaining film, but falls short of being truly special. The CGI is incredible, as is the cinematography by six-time Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel (The Natural, The Passion of the Christ), and the film is probably worth seeing just for those reasons.


Leave a comment

My Review of SOLO:  A STAR WARS STORY

Solo A Star Wars StorySolo: A Star Wars Story
***

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second installment of the Star Wars anthology series, following 2016’s Rogue OneSolo is a stand-alone film that takes place approximately ten years prior to the events of the 1977 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The film tells the early story of Han Solo, a much-loved character that was made popular by Harrison Ford. The film is exciting and enjoyable; how much you enjoy the film may be based on your personal expectations of it. Some Star Wars purists have been very negative about the film, which was troubled early on when co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired over creative differences with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriters four-time Oscar nominee Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon, The Accidental Tourist) and Jonathan Kasdan. Although I have seen and enjoyed all of the Star Wars films, I am not an expert on the franchise with its prequels and now anthology films, instead just wanting to see an entertaining film, which is what I found with Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Two-time Oscar winner Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), was called in to direct the film after the original directors were fired after about five months of work on the project. It has been reported that Howard re-shot more than 80% of the film, which had a budget of approximately $250 million. The musical score is by Oscar nominee John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon). The legendary five-time Oscar winner John Williams (Jaws, Fiddler on the Roof, Star Wars, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler’s List) composed the main theme.  The film is visually stunning, with Oscar nominee Bradford Young (The Arrival) handling cinematography.
We first meet the cocky Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Hail, Caesar!) on his home sewer of a planet Coreillia. He is an orphan and a thief. He’s been living on the streets with his partner in crime Qi’ra, played by three-time Emmy nominee Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones). When they try to escape, only Han succeeds. He will spend the next few years developing his pilot skills while trying to get back to Qi’ra.
During this time, Han meets several characters who help shape him into the character we are familiar with – Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the outlaw Tobias Beckett, played by three-time Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The People vs. Larry Flint, The Messenger), and the smuggler Lando Calrissian, played by Golden Globe winner Donald Glover (Atlanta). Phoebe Waller voices Lando’s co-pilot, L3-37, a robot. Dryden Vos, played by Paul Bettany (Iron Man films, A Beautiful Mind), plays the boss that Beckett works for.
We see Han team up with Beckett on a job in order to make enough money to purchase a ship to go back to Coreillia to rescue Qi’ra. When that job goes poorly, it sets up the plotline for the rest of the film.  The film plays like a space western and includes some excellent action sequences, and good use of humor.
Content concerns include typical Star Wars action violence and some light adult language. The acting performances of the main characters are all solid.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun and enjoyable, though probably not an essential adventure film that does a good job of answering questions about Han Solo’s story. My favorite aspect of the film was seeing the early friendship of Han and Chewbacca, who is 190 years old when they meet. We also see how Han ultimately becomes the owner of the Millennium Falcon ship. “The Force” a significant feature in Star Wars films, is absent in this film. The film would be considered “family friendly” for older children, and contains some intense battle scenes, humor and solid acting.