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 SPIDER-MAN:  FAR FROM HOME

Spider-Man: Far from Home, rated PG-13
*** ½

Spider-Man: Far from Home is an entertaining sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film includes comedy, romance and some of the usual Marvel action/violence, along with some relatively light adult language.
The film is directed by Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and written by Emmy nominee Chris McKenna (Community, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), and Emmy nominee Erik Sommers (American Dad!, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). The film had a budget of approximately $160 million.
The film picks up after the end of Avengers: Endgame. Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) is mourning the loss of his mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man who died at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Peter’s aunt May, played by Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) hosts a benefit for the those returning from “the Blip”, Thanos’ finger snap of destruction that eliminated half of the population. They have returned five years later, just as they were, but everyone else has aged five years.
Peter is hoping to just be your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man by night, and a normal high school student in Queens by day along with his best friend Ned, played by Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers). Peter is excited about a trip with his science class to Europe, where he plans to tell M.J., played by Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Greatest Showman) his feelings for her. Peter doesn’t even pack his Spider-Man suit for the trip. Continue reading


2 Comments

My Review of The Jungle Book

The Jungle BookThe Jungle Book, rated PG
****

This “live action”, heavily computer generated, film is released on the 49th anniversary of the 1967 animated film, the last cartoon feature overseen by Walt Disney, and released one year after his death.

The new film is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Elf, Chef). The screenplay, based on the book by Rudyard Kipling, is by Justin Marks. The film is darker than parents may anticipate, and too scary for very young children. While an adaptation of the 1967 film, (which I’ve never seen), the filmmakers chose to include elements from Kipling’s novel to make the film more adventurous and dangerous. Jungle locations in India were photographed and used as reference for the jungle environment in the film.  All the locations in the film are computer-generated VFX.

Mowgli is played by 12 year-old Neel Sethi. When a very young boy, Mowgli’s father was killed in a cave by the large Bengal tiger Shere Khan, voiced by Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). Shere Khan’s face is badly scarred by fire, which the animals call “red flower”, something they greatly fear. As a result, Shere Khan hates Mowgli and wants revenge.

Mowgli was saved by the black panther Bagheera, voiced by Ben Kingsley. He brings him to a pack of wolves to be raised by mother Akela, voiced by Lupita Nyong’o and father Raksha, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito, where he is known as a mancub. Several times throughout the film we hear Kipling’s poem “The Law of the Jungle” recited by the animals.

But Shere wants Mowgli dead and will kill others until they turn over Mowgli to him. To protect his family from Shere, Mowgli decides to leave the jungle. He is guided in his journey back to the human village by Bagheera the panther and the honey-loving bear Baloo (hilariously voiced by Bill Murray). Along the way he runs into the huge seductive python Kaa, voiced by Scarlett Johanson, and King Louie, a gigantic ape, voiced by Christopher Walken.  King Louie sings a song from the 1967 film “I Wanna Be Like You”.

The Jungle Book animatedI thoroughly enjoyed this creative film, which utilizes the latest technology, a strong cast and a classic story. I loved seeing all of the jungle animals (the elephants who are revered and bowed down before as the creators of the jungle, birds, monkeys, etc.). My favorite was Baloo the bear, and a great scene is Mowgli and Baloo singing “Bare Necessities”, as they float down the jungle river. That is among the few lighter moments in this often tense film, as Mowgli is being pursued by Shere.

The creative ending song as the credits begin to roll, featuring King Louie, is worth staying in your seats for. A full version of “Trust in Me (The Python’s Song)” by Kaa follows that over the rest of the credits.

Sadly this was Garry Shandling’s final film, just a few weeks after his March 24 death from a heart attack. Shandling voiced Ikki the porcupine.

Jungle Book 2 has been announced, and is planned for release in 2018.