The Lion King – Review

A visual spectacle where the show is stolen once again by two familiar characters…

It’s hard to deny that the Lion King is a tale of epic Shakespearean proportions, after all it’s ‘Hamlet with lions’ but the story has appeal to all ages and Disney continue to do that clever thing where they adapt a previous release into live action. This concept is near enough a solid strategy for selling tickets to the young and old and yet again it’s worked in that respect but a live action adaptation that involves just animals; does it really deliver?

My answer is yes and no, because I can’t deny visually the cinematography and computer generation somewhat merge into an impressive spectacle. Much like when Jurassic Park came out most people found it hard to determine when they had used CGI and not. The same is for the Lion King and although it looks great it feels like a certain dimension of the story is missing with this choice and I am talking about emotion.

Yes these are animals and they express emotion differently and in a cartoon you can make a lion frown or smile but when it’s appearing as ‘real life’ the concept is kind of lost. This is even more so apparent in musical numbers where emotion is the real key to delivery.

I’m not a film critic so that’s the subjective part out of the way because overall I enjoyed the Lion King – I avoided the animation for a many years because its quite sad in parts and the same is for this version but the story is about redemption so I dig it. The voice acting can’t be faulted along with most of the musical numbers – it seems ‘Be prepared’ was mostly omitted disappointingly… but everything good about this new version is what makes it worth seeing. It was pretty rewarding to see some scenes exactly how they were in the animation, a fitting tribute for this new live action way. I really liked how some of the characters were created visually; Scar looked exactly how an outcast lion would – dark and ominous and who wouldn’t mention Timon and Pumbaa – two characters who stole the show yet again and their comedy made the whole thing! Of course full credit to James Earl Jones who reprised his role as Mufasa from the original.

You’ll laugh a lot as well as find some of the film emotional in what is a brave execution for Disney leaving some audience members still unsure, but if you ask me the Lion King gets 8 ‘Hakuna Matata’s’ out of 10 

  

Tomorrowland : A world Beyond, telling us we should all look in the mirror and have happy thoughts every now and then…..

There I was on Friday with my better half in a somewhat deserted cinema at the beginning of a payday weekend.

Tomorrowland our choice, having seen the trailer intrigue got the better of me and opposed my thoughts of watching Dwayne Johnson escape an earthquake.

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As the film opens we are faced with a ruggedly handsome George Clooney talking to us the audience. He speaks of how ‘this’ all began and every so often is interrupted by a girl (Britt Robertson) we also see some kind of countdown clock thingy. Off we go back to the sixties to when this all began….

There were two main stories in this film’s plot, one of Clooney’s character and the other of Robertson’s character who is based in the present day. It’s the usual set up for Disney, a plainish type girl living with a single parent and younger kid brother. She has a passion for science and seeing the stars. Who doesn’t these days?

Clooney’s story is one of discovery as a young kid and he pitches the idea of a jetpack to an invention panel at the world’s fair.  After only attracting the attention of a girl (Raffey Cassidy) similar age to him she hands the boy a pin with ‘T’ embossed in it.

This pin allows entry to via some kind of teleportation to a futuristic city known as Tomorowland. A place where all the best and brightest live.

There were some cool visuals as this boy discovered the city. Mostly CGI but on the big screen it looked convincing. Throughout this rather long winded introduction I was left thinking where is this going and what is it about? Those answers were coming but not yet.

Flash forward to the girl and within her seeing the stars passion fueled ‘Cinderella’ type story we are fed an interesting and thought provoking quote:

There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is… which wolf wins?”

“The one you feed.”

Cutting a long story short becasuse I do recommend this film, Tomorrowland (the place) has fallen to sh** in recent times. Clooney’s character has left and come back to normal land. This girl  receives a pin and using it she see’s a ‘version’ of that place.

Desperatley wanting to know more she finds Clooney and after some convincing they make their way to Tommorowland

Imediatley they are apprehended by Hugh Laurie’s character, a somewhat leader of Tomorrowland. This is near two thirds into the film and we finally find out what this they are trying to tell us.

The countdown we are shown at the beginning is from a device, that Clooney invented and predicts when the modern day world will end. Even though Hugh Laurie played a smaller part in this film he brought a top level performance of a man who had accepted humanity’s fate. He delivered this via a very powerful self reflecting speech,

“You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation, explain that one. Bees butterflies start to disappear, the glaciers melt, the algae blooms. All around you the coal mine canaries are dropping dead and you won’t take the hint! In every moment there’s a possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it. And because you won’t believe it you won’t do what is necessary to make it a reality.”

 Powerful and deep stuff right? As expected from Disney because they love an undertone or two.

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The main cast, a decent mix of known and lesser known faces

So the world is going to end in a matter of months and that’s it?

Wrong. The girl realises this world ending predicting device only shows what could happen and not what will happen. Back to our feeding the wolves quote, she theorised that if you be positive and live positively the world won’t end.

Yes this stuff is quite deep for Disney, I was surprised and intrigued at the same time. After an altercation they destroy the device which seems to have a death grip over everybodies negative thoughts and the world is saved.

So my question to you is which wolf do you feed?

Tomorrowland slowly built up in a long winded discovery sort of way. It was good to see Disney create a live action original piece and this film wasn’t just a George Clooney film. I give full credit to other mostly younger performers in this film and recommend it just because it has a thought provoking level of intrigue not seen in modern or past Disney productions.

Not many people will get the film or what is trying to say, others will turn it off before watching it all. Applied thinking is needed for this film to be effective. But overall I enjoyed the visuals and action.

If you are looking for a different option to the mega action smash fests we have seen so far this year then check out Tomorowland. If you’re just a George Clooney fan, you will probably be disappointed that he shared screen time with some less known faces.

I liked it. With a month that will be dominated by dinosaurs and running and all the screaming Tomorrowland was a nice change of pace.

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Into the Woods : Wicked : My musical weekend

From the very beginning many of us knew that this year was gonna be all about movies, considering I have pretty much one sentence to report on all things trying to get published I will do that now.

I have sent my manuscript out to agents again and now I’m editing my second book again.

Now that’s done lets get to it but wait, didn’t I say that this week’s offering would resume on a Tuesday? I lied, the world is full of liars including me.

My musical weekend began on Friday…….

Friday : Into the woods

After walking into the foyer of my local empire cinema I could see that we may have trouble finding 7 seats for the group I was with. It was opening night after all and the last time I saw this cinema that packed was when Les Miserables came out. Just like that experience we were forced to sit near the front.

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So to the film, well here we see a rather stellar cast, I am talking Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, James Corden (Peeps from US will soon know who he is) Johnny Depp ( more of a cameo from him) Emily Blunt, Chris Pine who played the rugged yet charming prince charming and many more. It seemed that nearly every character big or small was a face I had seen before. This gave me much faith in what Disney had to offer.

We were introduced by the way of song to the many central characters and the sort of modified fairy tales in which they belonged. Jack and the beanstalk, Little red riding hood and Cinderella were amongst them.

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Meryl Streep and James Corden carried this film which saw him on a scavenger hunt into the woods. I wont give that much away as I feel it is worth watching but to me the final quarter of the film did lack a certain level of story and plot. Which is a shame because the cast all pull together and almost make this an anti Disney film with cliché at every turn. My favourite line of the film came from prince charming “I was raised to be charming not sincere” and he did turn out to be quite the sleaze bag. Seeing him and another prince singing a duet on a waterfall and trying to out prince each other was fun to watch.

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I lol’d at this guy

 

Go see it and tell me your thoughts.

If your still here this is part two of my musical weekend and that was to take my better half into central London to the very art deco Victoria Apollo theatre.

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Saturday : Wicked

As you take your seat there is already a visual spectacle  to take in. The safety curtain is a map of OZ with emerald city glowing in the centre. Around the stage is various ladders, walkways and cogs of the machine that makes Wicked turn. High above a dragon facing the spectators who were ready and restless on this busy Saturday afternoon.   (This dragon did move from time to time)

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Here we see the story of Elphalba (the wicked witch of the west) and how she came to meet herfate.  Again I won’t give anything away and just tell you this show was somewhat awesome.  Many people think that musicals are not for me (maybe because I am so manly, tough exterior etc.) but this show was great. The act 1 close of defying gravity did exactly that and really expressed the powerful vocal skills of the performers. Flying monkeys, munchkins and brilliant stage visuals gave the whole show had a magical element. I would strongly recommend you see it. We were sat in the dress circle looking down on the stage, but where ever you sit is a good view in the Apollo.

 

Final thought 

Some of you may know that for five years I have pursued a career in amateur drama. Having been a member of the Iver Heath Drama Club for that time I can happily announce that I will be the lead in their next show. This January I will be putting the tights on to be Robin Hood, the worlds most famous outlaw! Come and see me, tickets are available to purchase online for a reasonable rate, just click here.

Show your support for a good thing in the community!

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