The Lion King11/2
*ing (voices): Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyonce Knowles-Carter, and James Earl Jones
Directed by Jon Favreau
Tagline: The king has returned.
Disney continues to underwhelm with yet another uninspired remake of an animated classic, this time revisiting the celebrated 1994 gem, The Lion King in a photorealistic adaptation so single-mindedly focused on creating life-like CGI animals that it forgets to do anything else of merit along the way.
The new film faithfully retells the tale of Simba, a young lion (voiced by JD McCrary) who is the son of Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the King of the Pride Lands. In a bid to usurp power, Simba’s uncle Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) kills Mufasa, and makes the cub believe that his father’s death was his own fault. Simba flees the kingdom, surviving an attack by Scar’s hyena minions before collapsing. He is rescued by meerkat Timon (Billy Eichner) and warthog Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) whom he befriends.
But his past comes calling again a while later when he is a young adult (Donald Glover), forcing him to remember who he really is and embrace his role as the rightful king of his native land.
The story remains the same, as do many of the familiar scenes and the songs (although some of the iconic moments are curiously missing here), but the new film fails to recapture the original’s timeless charm.
The animals, though incredibly realistic, lack the expressiveness and emotiveness of their traditionally animated counterparts. The storytelling no longer holds the same impact it did the first time around. The vibrancy and liveliness is gone, replaced by hollow retreading that leaves you yearning for original content instead of this endless string of remakes.
The vocal performances are mostly unmemorable. Glover and Beyonce Knowles-Carter (who is the grown-up voice of Simba’s love interest Nala) – both talented artists – are out of place here. John Oliver (who voices bird Zazu) sounds distractingly like John Oliver. The only real exception is (surprisingly) the joyous duo of Eichner and Rogen who effortlessly steal the show, with their characters breathing life into an otherwise dull movie. Also, Jones is (unsurprisingly) impressive as he reprises his part and voices Mufasa majestically.
Ultimately, the new Lion King is very likely to make you wish you were watching the original instead. The film just feels like a soulless rehash of its predecessor and proves that no amount of technical wizardry can trump solid, affecting storytelling.
*ing: Frank Grillo, Anthony Mackie, Marcia Gay Harden, Teyonah Parris, Boris McGiver, Christian Cooke, and Markice Moore
Directed by Joe Lynch
Tagline: A hell of a day. A hell of a pair.
The American remake of the 2010 French film Point Blank struggles to deliver on the potential of its premise, sending its likable stars on a journey vacant of any suspense.
Frank Grillo portrays Abe, a criminal who flees a shootout and gets hit by a vehicle before he can reach the getaway car in which his youth brother, Mateo (Christian Cooke), awaits him. He is sent to the hospital under police surveillance where an ER nurse, Paul (Anthony Mackie) – who is expecting a child with his wife Taryn (Teyonah Parris) – is assigned to oversee his care.
Hoping to break Abe out of the hospital so that he can pay off the debt he owes to gangster Big D (Markice Moore), Mateo kidnaps Taryn and forces Paul to help his brother escape. With detectives Regina (Marcia Gay Harden) and Masterson (Boris McGiver) hot on their trail, Paul must figure out how to do what’s right while saving his wife.
There isn’t much the cast can do when they are stuck with material this unexceptional. The proceedings disappoint; the soundtrack jars. The action may be serviceable but director Joe Lynch doesn’t create the thrill that could have made the film exciting or the connection that would have made viewers care for the characters.
Point Blank could have potentially gone in a different, bolder, more exciting direction but instead the film chooses predictable paths and flatlines in the process.