The Lion King Remake Review: Unimaginative Cash Grab with Great CGI.

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“Life’s not fair” Chiwitel Ejiofor’s Scar says in the opening minutes of the Lion King remake.
Well, this is certainly true for all the fans of the original Lion King out there because the 2019 remake is nothing more than an unimaginative cash grab.
I had hopes that it would turn out okay after the remake of Aladdin turned out to be good but, sadly, it was not to be.
I will get the positives out of the way first.
The CGI is incredible, the voice actors do a good job, and Scar’s introduction has surprisingly good cinematography compared with the rest of the film.
There, those three things are the only positives I have.
Now for the oh, so long list of negatives.
Probably my biggest problem with The Lion King 2019 is how it is an almost shot for shot remake.
I recognized so many shots from the original film that it was obvious they were simply trying to evoke the feelings of that movie rather than trying to do something new.

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Many of the shots in the Lion King remake are blatantly taken from the original, which quickly becomes apparent in its opening minutes.

Worse still, whenever something differed from the original it failed spectacularly.
This is most evident with the musical numbers, which are incredibly boring compared to the first Lion King‘s.
Rather than the fast paced and vibrant dance moves we see there, the 2019 remake instead has the characters just blandly walking around and singing with no exciting movement to speak of.
This is by far the most apparent with “Be Prepared,” which lost so much of its power.
The reason for this, I speculate, is because the director, Jon Favreau, was trying to make the animals seem realistic.
And while he did succeed in this, with the CGI making the animals look incredibly realistic, this is also to the film’s detriment.
Because the lions and other animals are made to look so realistic they show no human-like expressions.
This creates an uncanny valley effect whenever an emotional scene is supposed to happen.
The characters’ faces do not match with what they are saying and their tone of voice.

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This blank expression of Simba’s (Donald Glover) you see in the poster is pretty much all the emotion he shows throughout the entire movie.

Case in point, the gorge scene with the young Simba (JD McCrary) and Mufasa (James Earl Jones).
Not only is this scene downgraded to an almost laughable degree, but when Simba shouts his face has absolutely no emotion.
There is so little emotion or reactions on the animals faces in comparison with their voices that it creates a disconnect throughout the entire film.
Like I said, this also translates to the musical numbers, which are ruined for other reasons as well.
Take “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, which is botched by the mere incompetent decision of having the song take place in a daytime scene.

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Whose bright idea was it to have “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” play in the day?

Incompetent decisions like this can be seen all the way through, most obviously in a scene where we follow a tuft of Simba’s hair blowing in the wind, only to see it get eaten by a giraffe, excreted, and then pushed around by a dung beetle.

That’s right, someone thought it was a good idea to see an important part of the film literally being pushed around in a pile of dung.
This scene pretty much sums up most of my feelings about the remake when comparing it with the original.
In comparison to the animated Lion King, the 2019 remake is a pile of dung.
It may have good voice acting and singing from its cast, and incredible CGI, but almost everything else fails completely.

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story Will Make you Smile… but Also Roll Your Eyes.

3 and a half stars
There seems to be a lot of varying opinions about Solo: A Star Wars Story.
I have heard people say they hate it, I have heard people say they love it and I have heard people say it is good but with some bad moments.
If anything I think I fall into the final category because when watching Solo: A Star Wars Story I found myself grinning at its brilliant moments and rolling my eyes at it stupid moments.
Directed by Ron Howard, the film is actually very different from every Star Wars movie so far because, instead of it being about galactic space battles and the Force, it is a heist movie that centers around the origins of Han Solo and his friendship with Chewbaca.
That last thing I mentioned is something the film absolutely nails.
I loved how Han and Chewie met in the film and how they became such close friends.

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Han and Chewbaca’s relationship is one of the best things about this movie.

As for Han Solo himself, the actor they got to play him, Alden Ehrenreich, does a good job with what he is given.
I had heard rumors, while the film was being made, that he was turning in a terrible performance but this was not true at all.
The problem I had with Han was more due to the writing because sometimes it did not really feel like our main character was a young Han Solo.
On some occasions it certainly did feel like him but, more often than not, he felt different.
However, what the film got wrong with Han, it made up for with Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover.
This was perfect casting and Glover did an absolutely fantastic job at portraying the charismatic, previous owner of the Millennium Falcon.

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Donald Glover does an absolutely fantastic job as Lando, he was the perfect casting choice.

As for the other actors, like Ehrenreich, they do a good job with what they have given but, aside from Glover, there are no other fantastic performances.
Like I said though, Solo: A Star Wars Story had moments that made me grin at its brilliance, like when Han and Chewie met or when Han acquires the Millennium Falcon.
However, like I said, the movie does have some very stupid moments.
For example, the film actually explains how Han got his last name and the explanation was so dumb I literally facepalmed myself.
This movie also has a twist that had no purpose in the story and feels like it was used solely for fan service, rather than betterment of the story, and left me very confused.
This was an example of how not to do a twist.
Overall, Solo: A Star Wars Story had some truly excellent moments like the meeting between Han and Chewie and Glover’s portrayal of Lando, however it also had its colossally stupid moments that brought the movie down for me.
It is enjoyable but you will probably roll your eyes a bit in the theater.