Movie Review – The Lion King

Movie Review - The Lion KingWe’ll have a movie review from Dana Simone, who is a Lion King aficionado, soon.

If you’re not a Lion King fan then I think you’ll find this version more enjoyable than the animated, based on more humor and the outstanding cinematography.

For my part, I feel a little numb because I effectively watched the movie three times today working on the Peetimes. And, until two nights ago, I hadn’t seen the animated Lion King since it first came out.

The CGI is outstanding. There wasn’t a single moment where I could tell that something wasn’t real. Of course the animal talking is unavoidably clumsy because they don’t have the anatomy to actually talk. But I didn’t find it distracting.

The script has been revised slightly to make it more contemporary and add a little more humor.

Speaking of humor: Seth Rogen, as the voice for Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as the voice for Timon, absolutely carried the movie. John Oliver as Zazu was a perfect choice; I just wish the writers had given him one five second rant to enjoy.

I’m bummed they didn’t bring back Whoopi Goldberg as the voice for Shenzi the hyena, but at least they had “the voice” as Mufasa: James Earl Jones.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I would recommend either of the first two Peetimes.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Lion King. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Remake

Character voices for Lion King

Here’s a list of the main characters and the voices behind them in the Lion King.

Lion King: Simba (young)

Simba (young)

Lion King Simba young JD McCrary

JD McCrary

This talented young (12 y/o) actor already has an extensive TV filmography, even appearing as a young Michael Jackson in the TV series American Soul.
Lion King: Simba (grown)

Simba (grown)

Lion King Simba grown Donald Glover

Donald Glover

Donald Glover is a writer, actor, musician, comedian, producer and director. You should recognize him as the young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, or for a small, but important, role he had in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Personally, my favorite role of his is as the brilliant astrophysicist in The Martian who came up with the legendary Rich Purnell Maneuver.
Lion King: Nala

Nala

Lion King Nala Beyonce

Beyoncé

Singer and stuff. 🙂
Lion King: Mufasa

Mufasa

Lion King Mufasa voice James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

Know one’s voice exudes power and majesty the same as James Earl Jones’, which is why he’s the only voice actor holdover from the original Lion King. He is Mufasa, and also, in case you didn’t know, the voice of Darth Vader.
Lion King: Scar

Scar

Lion King Scar voice Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Ejiofor is the Oscar nominated best actor for 12 Years a Slave. Watch this YouTube video here to learn more about him, and especially how to pronounce his name. 🙂

I’m a big Firefly fan, so my favorite role of his is as The Operative in Serenity.

Lion King: Timon

Timon

Lion King Timon Billy Eichner

Billy Eichner

Eichner has done heaps of TV and voice work for years. If you watch American Horror Story you’ll recognize him as Harrison Wilton / Mutt Nutter / Brock.
Lion King: Pumbaa

Pumbaa

Lion King Pumbaa Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen

If he’s not the funniest, most talented, writer/actor in Hollywood right now I’d like to know who is. (You shut up James Franco. We’ve been over this. I respect you and you’re super talented, but you’re not Rogen-talented.)
Lion King: Rafiki

Rafiki

Lion King Rafiki John Kani

John Kani

If John Kani looks familiar it’s probably because you recognize this Tony award winning actor as King T’Chaka from Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther.
Lion King: Zazu

Zazu

Lion King Zazu voice John Oliver

John Oliver

John Oliver is best known for his hit HBO show Last Week Tonight, and previously on The Daily Show, but recently he’s been very active as a voice actor for movies such as: Wonder Park, The Smurfs 1, 2, etc., Robot Chicken, Danger Mouse, and more.
Lion King hyena Shenzi

Sarafina

Lion King hyena Shenzi Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba, born in Uganda, lives in Berlin. She’s one of the very few actors to cross over from the MCU to DC. She is Ayo, personal guard of the King of Wakanda, and also played Senator Acantha in Wonder Woman.
Lion King hyena Kamari

Kamari

Lion King hyena Kamari Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key

His name is Keegan-Michael because he’s actually two people: how else could he get so much work done? He’s been in… Actually, it might be faster to list what he wasn’t in. He didn’t appear in Downton Abbey, or Game of Thrones, but in pretty much everything else, such as: The Predator, Let’s Be Cops, Tomorrowland, Keanu, he’s the voice for Ducky in Toy Story 4, voice for Murray in Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation.
Lion King hyena Azizi

Azizi

Lion King hyena Azizi Eric André

Eric André

Eric is the host of his own TV show: The Eric Andre Show. He’s also appeared in a number of TV shows, such as: Disenchantment as Pendergrast, Man Seeking Woman as Mike, Lucas Bros Moving Co as Wes Borland / Satan / Red, 2 Broke Girls as Deke, and many others.

Movie Review – Yesterday

Movie Review - YesterdayThe only reason I didn’t give Yesterday an A+ is that, at least for now, I don’t think it’s as good as Love Actually both written by Richard Curtis — and both are very similar.

Yesterday checks all the boxes for a great film: it’s terribly well acted; the pacing rolls along with the right amount of ups and downs; the protagonist is challenged, and responds without resorting to cliche; and it has plenty of humor without trying too hard.

This is the product of a masterful writer who takes his time crafting a great story.

I don’t want to spoil it, in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, but I believe the penultimate scene, prior to the big concert, is one of the more poignant scenes in any movie. I still can’t stop thinking about the “what if’s.”

Yeah, I can’t wait to see this movie again.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I have three good Peetimes for you. I’d recommend the 2nd one since it’s around the middle of the movie and doesn’t have any humor or plot/character development. The timing for the 2nd and 3rd Peetimes may be just a little bit off since the power went out during my showing. Yes, seriously, the power went out for, I don’t know, about 12 seconds.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Yesterday. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for suggestive content and language
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Music

Movie Review – Rocketman

Love, Actually and Christmas Is All Around (That “Festering Turd of a Record”)

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen Will Rock You

Movie Review – Toy Story 4

Movie Review - Toy Story 4Vera and I saw the movie together and collaborated on the Peetimes. We agreed that Toy Story 4 deserves an A. It has everything you could want: fun action for the kids, plenty of humor, especially with the two new toys Bunny and Ducky — voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key respectively — and a really well thought out villain, if you can call Gabby a villain.

I found this movie to be a pleasure to watch. In many ways it’s more real than most of the “real” movies today. Everyone knows that things will “work out” in the end, but there was really uncertainty in what the characters would decide to do.

This is Pixar at its finest.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Toy Story 4 is packed with action, and plot development, and jumps between short scenes of different groups of toys. That makes it difficult to find Peetimes. All of the Peetimes are decent, but short. The 2nd Peetime is recommended because it’s the longest, almost 4 minutes long.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Toy Story 4. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (G)
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

Movie Review - Men in Black: InternationalIt isn’t that there’s much wrong with MiB International so much as there isn’t anything right about it: the humor is middling; the pacing is choppy; and the plot/character development is bland.

I can’t complain about the acting. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did good enough with what they had to work with, but Thor: Ragnorak this isn’t.

The biggest problem with MiB International is the pacing. There are long stretches that border on boring, sometimes wandering on the wrong side of the border. Right in the middle of the movie is the main chase scene that serves as the best Peetime in the movie. I’m certain that’s not what the creators had in mind.

There are elements of potential in the story. It feels like all the movie needed was a few more drafts of the script to give it the polish it needed. For instance there are continual references to Agent H’s (Hemsworth) character change since the opening scene of the movie….however, there’s never any resolution as to why this change happened.

Speaking of the opening scene, there was some real confusion in the order of time between the first few scenes of the movie. There’s no indication when the first scene starts, as Agent H and T arrive at the Eiffel Tower. [Correction: there was a “3 Years ago” message onscreen that apparently appeared while I was writing notes.] After that, the scene cuts to another scene with “20 years ago” displayed on the screen. At the end of that we jump to the present. That seems simple enough until 3/4 of the way through the movie we discover that the opening scene took place 3 years in the past. I don’t want to imply that there’s a simple solution to how this should have been done, but it’s the job of the writers/director to tell a cohesive story, and they botched that in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

I think most fans of the MiB franchise will be disappointed. This installment is nowhere near as good is the first, or third, movie. The second MiB was pretty awful, save for some funny scenes. I’d say this fourth movie is better than that, but not by much.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes here, but the 1st and last Peetimes are Emergency use only because they are so short. We recommend the 3rd Peetime. It’s right in the middle of the movie and only involves 1 long chase scene that isn’t particularly good.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Men in Black: International. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sequel

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

 

 

Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Movie Review - X-Men: Dark PhoenixThe X-Men Universe, produced by 20th Century Fox,  had a twenty year run. Now that it’s over, they should be applauded for the influence they’ve had on the superhero movie genre.

Fox movie assets are now owned by Disney. That means the X-Men can, at some point, be wrapped into the MCU with the Avengers.

Dark Phoenix was produced before the Disney purchase. It was intended to be a bridge between the previous X-Men Universe and a newly imagined X-Men Universe with a new and young generation of mutants. Instead it stands as an unintended swan song to the X-Men as we know them. Which makes it a shame it had to end with such an underwhelming effort.

The Dark Phoenix story is an absurd mess. Let’s start with the villain… Okay, I’m not even sure where to start with that. Never has a superhero villain been so poorly imagined. Vuk, played by Jessica Chastain, has barely more than a cameo role. You wouldn’t even know the villain’s name except it’s shown just once in a subtitle. Even Xavier himself refers to the villain as: that thing, that woman, I don’t know what.

And what do we know about that “spark/solar flair” thing? We get one line of exposition from Vuk: “It’s the spark that brought life to the universe and now goes around destroying planets, including my own.”

What? How does that even make sense? Lazy storytelling much?

Who’s the Villain, Really?

Maybe Vuk and this spark/thing aren’t really the villains. Maybe Jean Grey is the villain. Which could have worked brilliantly if they hadn’t introduced Vuk/spark in the first place. Take the entire alien storyline out and just build up Jean a little more. There’s plenty of material there for us to relate to in our everyday lives, as an “internal demon” takes over a loved one and how their family copes with it, and then reconciles their feelings.

That’s what the X-Men have always represented: family. But in Dark Phoenix they tried to have it both ways, which drowned all the potential this movie started out with.

Grade: D-

About The Peetimes: The movie is full short, choppy, scenes that made it difficult to get good Peetimes. The 2 best Peetimes are the 3rd and 4th. Both work well, but are only around 3 minutes long.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class

Godzilla End Credits Song Remix By Serj Tankian

Blue Oyster Cult is probably most famous for their song Godzilla.  It’s a must if you want to set the mood for seeing Godzilla: King of the MonstersBut, better yet, give a listen to the remix by Serj Tankian that plays in the movie as the credits roll.

 

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla MovieMeme

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty darn proud of the #MovieMeme feature I added to the RunPee app in the previous update. It’s a work in progress that I would consider in beta for now, but you can still do an awful lot with it and have great fun sharing your work.

MovieMeme -- Godzilla

To access this feature in the RunPee app, just select any movie, which will take you to the Movie Info Screen. At the top of the screen you’ll see the movie poster. Just tap on that, and you can draw on the poster and/or add a text or meme to it.

The usability is still a little rough around the edges, but that will get ironed out in time. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear your feedback. Just email me: support@runpee.com.

John Wick: Prince of Puppies

It’s also fun to just use your finger, or a stylus, to draw on the poster.

MovieMeme -- Aladdin

Or a combination of meme and drawing.

MovieMeme - Hellboy

MovieMeme

What’s New in the RunPee App Version 5.0 – Movie posters can can draw on, MCU Peetimes at a glance, and much more!

RunPee’s MovieMeme Designs – So easy, a “meme moron” like me can make one

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review - Godzilla: King of the MonstersLet’s face it, no one watches porn for the plot. Two barely dressed women order pizza and minutes later a buff young man knocks on the door. You know what happens next.

Likewise, no one watches mega monster movies expecting Inception level plot twists. We watch to see monsters eff each other up and lay waste to a cities the way politicians lay waste to the truth. Based on that criteria, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is completely satisfying and ends with a “money shot” worth the price of admission.

My primary gripe of Godzilla 2014 was that there weren’t nearly enough Godzilla fight scenes. This sequel rectifies that in the first 30 minutes of the movie.

Leaving the theater last night, I was hovering in the B+/A- range grade for this movie. However, after a little thought, I’m backing off to a solid B, only because — while I just said we watch these movies for the monster fights — it should would be nice if the scenes between could prop the movie up, instead of drag it down.

I didn’t care if any of the characters lived or died, other than perhaps Madison, the daughter. Everyone else was as disposable as pizza toppings. In fact, I was sort of hoping Dr. Stanton, played by Bradley Whitford — the sarcastic smart ass from West Wing — would get killed, so he would stop delivering nothing but cheesy lines. Not that Bradley is to fault. He did his job wonderfully, but I suspect he was on-set begging with the writers to give him just one line that wasn’t purely for exposition or a smart ass comment.

I know I said at the beginning of this review that plot in a movie like this is completely irrelevant, but that’s not completely true. It is of vital importance to the rewatchability of a movie. Right now I have no interest in watching this movie again, unless it’s just to fast forward from one monster fight to another.

I realize that “rewatchability” is highly subjective. That being said, this movie lacked the playfulness of a movie like Pacific Rim

Movie Grade: B

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Summer is coming so is nostalgia

We are in the throes of the summer movie season and if you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, you aren’t wrong.

Familiar characters, from Woody and Buzz, Spider-Man, John Wick, Aladdin, Jasmine, and the Genie, Simba and Nala and Godzilla are returning to the big screen, all vying for the summer box office prize.

Summer movies usually are released from May through August but in the last few years, with Marvel superheroes assembling in April, the hot movie season starts earlier than usual.

Many sportsbooks online are offering odds on which movie will earn the most on select weekends and/or the movie season, which means if you buy into summer beginning in April, the big winner is “Avengers: Endgame.”

If the sportsbook of your choice sticks with the traditional calendar, other movies have a chance to rise to the top.

The consensus is that film studios, facing pressure from streaming services, such as Netflix, are turning to proven characters or titles to boost their bottom lines.

Movies, such as “Toy Story,” “Fast & The Furious,” and “The Lion King” have a faithful and reliable audience. The characters are known quantities, so the industry is happy to tap into that nostalgia and its built-in audience. But that’s not to say studios have thrown in the towel on fresh ideas, for example, Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” but they’ve made a choice to balance the two.

So will a familiar face or fresh one “win” or claim “we’re No. 2! we’re No. 2!”

“Aladdin” starring Will Smith made a strong case exceeding expectations over the Memorial Day weekend. The live-action remake of the Disney classic made more than $105 million domestically over the four-day weekend busting IMDB predictions. With Disney having more than a half-dozen movies in release during the summer, it is many times competing with itself.

Others making a run at the box office prize:

  • “The Lion King” (July 19 premiere; IMDB projected total box office: $720 million) – The photorealistic CGI remake of this Disney blockbuster with it star-power voice cast will again roar at the box office, likely finishing No. 2 behind “Endgame.” The heartfelt story of love, betrayal, and friendship has wide appeal and Disney already scored with the photorealistic retelling of “The Jungle Book,” so this is going to be a big winner.
  • “Toy Story 4” (June 21; $600 million) – This movie was unexpected since it wrapped so nicely with the toys finding a new home in “Toy Story 3.” Color us skeptical, but it’s Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) and the absolute last one, so we’re in. Hanks suggests you bring Kleenex.
  • “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (July 2, $415 million) – The success of “Avengers: Endgame” and Spidey coming back from dust could make this movie BIG or uncover moviegoers’ superhero fatigue.
  • “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (August 2, $295 million) – A familiar franchise without Disney ties (finally!) that’s trailer actually shows star Dwayne Johnson lassoing a helicopter and Jason Statham being, well, Jason Statham.
  • “Men in Black International” (June 14, $210 million) Chris Hemsworth dumps Thor’s cape for a black suit, teams with Tessa Thompson to fight aliens.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 30, $200 million) – The lizard rises from the sea to take on other monsters. Hooray!
  • “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (opened May 17, $180 million so far) – Keanu Reeves continues to kick butt on screen and at the box office to become the highest grossing movie in the action franchise.

So, familiar faces are expected to bring box office boom this summer and summers to come. Other movies that have proven themselves in the past and now in the production pipeline for future release are “Roadhouse,” “Gremlins,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and “White Men Can’t Jump.” Everything old is new again.