What You Need to Know to Watch the Downton Abbey Movie

downton abbey lords and ladies
Must be nice.

Have you seen or recently rewatched the UK six-season show Downton Abbey? Do you remember enough of it to make sense of the new film — one that doesn’t bother with any backstory exposition at all?

Here’s a cheat sheet to remind you of what you need to know to enjoy the Downton Abbey Movie (consider this a spoiler warning if you haven’t seen the series)…and here is how to watch the series online.

servants in downton abbey
Team Downstairs.

The Servants’ Halls:

  • Daisy began a relationship with Andrew, one of the footmen. It’s a relationship on equal appreciation, for once.
  • Mrs. Patmore is still the cook, and continues to mentor Daisy in life lessons.
  • Barrow is still the Butler, as Carson is retired. (His palsy is never referenced.)
  • Barrow is still gay and suffering from loneliness. He’s also mellowed out a lot.
  • Mrs. Carson (Previously Mrs. Hughes) is still in charge of the household.
  • Anna is still Lady Mary’s maid, and Baxter still is Lady Grantham’s maid.
  • MY GOD, the Bates’ Problems are over and done. Thankfully. They’ve been through enough.
downton abbey characters
Team Upstairs.

The Nobles of Team Upstairs:

  • Awww, Lord Grantham still has his dog, which he loves more than his daughters. 😉
  • The Dowager Countess Lady Violet has NOT mellowed over the years, but she seems to accept Isobel Crawley now as a real friend. She’s has moved on to new frenemies (like her Dolores Umbridge counterpart from Harry Potter, Imelda Staunton.
  • Lady Edith and Lady Mary are still happily married, although their husbands and children are barely in the film. Mary = Henry Talbot. Edith = Bertie Pelham, FYI. There’s been a lot of men in their lives over the seasons, but this is how it ended up.
  • Also, Isobel Crawley is still the Baroness Merton with her marriage to Richard Grey, who is still no longer dying.
  • Robert and Cora are still as cute a couple as ever (Lord and Lady Grantham).
  • Lady Rosamund and Rose are nowhere to be seen.
  • Sisters Mary and Edith appear to have maintained the hard won truce they found at the end of the series.
  • Tom Branson remains is a loyal son-in-law and is comfortable being a nobleman now, but his Irish socialist past still haunts him.

If you really want to know the very detailed ins and outs of how Downton Abbey ended, check out this wiki.

Finally: A very detailed video refresher narrator by the beloved stars — by the beloved Carson and Mrs:Hughes/Carson: (HUGH TV show spoilers, not mild like me mine.)

Finally, here some of the most acidic Dowager Countesses Lady Violet Crawly lines (the delightful Maggie Smith) shade throughout the years — this is a hoot:

Movie Review – Downton Abbey

What Downton Abbey is About, and How to Binge Watch It

Quiz – Queen Elizabeth l and Mary Queen of Scots

How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Shark In a Shark Movie (or real life)

the meg shark mouth poster
Don’t be like dumb people in shark films.

Like shark movies? Ever wonder WHY we enjoy these monster/disaster/fish bait movies so much? I wonder that myself. It’s not like they’re teaching us how to avoid being eaten alive, hunted like prey, or anything useful.

So here’s the top ten ways to avoid becoming “chummy” with the sharks. (Get it? Get it? Sheesh.) I’m getting my safety information from National Geographic, but I’m also not an idiot. These things are common sense.

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Being Eaten by Sharks (with movie examples of what not to do).

1. STAY AWAY FROM DEAD THINGS IN THE WATER.

You’d think this would be obvious. Someone something will be hanging around said dead fish, whale, or person, eating the body. Always. People in the movies are always dangling around with tasty arms and legs, paddling about, curious and/or sad about the dead thing. Move along, people! (These are the same characters who think it’s a great idea to split up in haunted houses to look for clues.)

the reef shark movie
Swim away from the bodies.

Point: In The Shallows, Blake Lively’s character swam up against a chewed up,  bloody whale. That would have been a great time to LEAVE. Don’t even get me started on the people in The Reef.

2. On a similar note, avoid schools of fish, seals, or sea lions.

Don’t add to the buffet. Simple rules, here.

3. If you see a lot of seabird or dolphin activity, be aware they are attracted to the same food sharks like. 

So far, Rules 1-3 are variations on a theme. Stay off the menu when there’s a meal about.

4. ALSO SHOULD BE OBVIOUS: Stay away from fishing boats, which usually dump entrails and blood in the water. 

I just watched 47 Meters Down 2 – Uncaged. Vague and minor spoiler: some people surface right as a glass bottomed shark boat dumped chum in the sea for the pleasure of tourists. This did not go well for those people.

47 meters down 2 uncaged fishbait meme
Fixed it.

5. Are you bleeding at all? Menstruating, even? Get out of the ocean.

Sharks can smell tiny amounts of blood over large distances. That big snout isn’t just a container for teeth. Remember the movie Pitch Black? (Which wasn’t a shark film, but the idea still applies.) #BloodSmells

pennywise chapter one it
Ewww. Okay. Just no to blood.

6. Avoid storm drain release points. Likewise, places where sewage enters the ocean.

These ‘garbage’ points attract bait fish, which attracts the sharks who eat them. Also, gross! Don’t swim there! I live right beside a lovely bay on the sea with plenty of nice places to swim, and STILL see young families playing in the water around the YUCKY WATER, E COLI PRESENT, DON’T SWIM HERE signs.

Just because the water’s shallow doesn’t mean it’s safe.

7. Avoid: Harbor channels, steep ocean floor drop offs, river entrances, and any place the water is murky. And be aware that after rains, river entrances will sweep yummy baitfish out to sea. 

These are places sharks like to patrol. And they can see quite well in the muck.

deep blue sea shark fin
They can still see you.

8. Don’t swim at dusk. Or dawn or night. Or any time alone, in an isolated area, especially at night. 

Twilight isn’t the time only Vampires like to feed. Also, with the not swimming alone? You’re safer in numbers. Just like with Vampires!

Did you see The Shallows? Blake Lively should have known better than to swim alone at a remote beach like that, even in broad daylight.

the shallows with blake lively
Don’t swim alone on a super remote beach, not even if you’re Blake Lively.

9. Don’t wear bright colors (yellow and orange are supposed to be the worst), or reflective jewelry that a shark will interpret as fish scales. 

Although, back to The Shallows, the jewelry did a fantastic job stitching up Blake’s skin after her first shark encounter. So if you wear jewelry, consider the kind that can double as a needle and thread.

10. Don’t splash too much. 

Man, it annoyed me in The Reef when those survivors not only hung around the dead bodies, but kicked and splashed and made too much activity while drifting around the Pacific. This is how scared prey acts.

Remember in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss lost his poison-laced spear? He was not in the shark cage anymore, and a really mean Great White was right there. Playing a legitimately smart character, he dove down under some flotsam in his scuba gear to wait out the shark presence. The scientist survived with no worries.

jaws movie poster
Great movie that actually featured smart people.

There are different ways to swim. Some involve a lot of splashing. Others have more sinuous moves. Try to do, say, the breaststroke. Or at least kick smoothly, under the water, if you’re holding onto a float.

And keep your pets, especially dogs, out of the water. They make a lot of commotion. The pet rat in The Abyss was an unusual case, but worked out for the rat. The bird in Deep Blue Sea was less lucky. I won’t spoil what happens to the dog in Crawl, but that’s an alligator movie, and I don’t have any details on gator attacks.

What if you’re diving and a shark does approach you?

Stay as still as possible if you can’t easily exit the water. But if you’re actually attacked, or if the shark has you in its mouth, don’t play dead. Attack back with everything you can, and try to get the shark in the delicate areas of eyes, gills, or snout. If you recall, in Deep Blue Sea, a large crucifix made a great shark weapon.  (Again with the useful jewelry…hmmm…)

I’m not saying to use movies for your guide in survival situations, but at least these are things to think about.

Overall, Be Aware of Yourself in the Water

When all is said and done, here’s the note attached to the credits of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Sharks kill ten people a year. People kill ten million sharks a year. So the idea here is to be aware, but not paranoid. Note also that this statistic doesn’t include people who are attacked and survived. Famous surfer Bethany Hamilton probably didn’t commit any of these Ten Deadly Sins, but lost an arm anyway.

bethany hamilton unstoppable movie poster
Bethany Hamilton, still rocking it.

Just be think of how sea predators work, and you won’t have to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether. And if you feel something touch you while swimming, calmly but efficiently get the hell out of the water.

Don’t be like the stupid people in these shark movies:

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

 

Avengers Bests Avatar at Box Office – But Avatar Is Still #1 in My Heart

avatar na'vi man and woman in blue
Hawkeye would fit right in on Pandora.

Avatar is one of my all time favorite movies.  So I’m a little torn that Avengers: Endgame has broken its box office record. Yes, it’s cool that a superhero movie is now the reigning box office champ of all time.

Endgame is the reigning champ

And it’s an impressive feat wrapping up 11 years worth of a series of movies so successfully.  Some series never even make it off the ground (I’m looking at you King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The Mummy 2017).  Other series have no expiration date (*ahem*James Bond *ahem*).  So to wrap up an epic story in an emotionally satisfying way is no small feat.  Marvel deserves all the kudos they are receiving.

And it’s not that I’m not a fan of Marvel or the actors involved.  I was a Robert Downey Junior fan long before Iron Man came out.  I loved watching Paul Rudd and Mark Ruffalo in art house films for years.  I’ve adored Scarlett Johansson since Lost in Translation.  I’ve crushed on Gwyneth Paltrow ever since Shakespeare in Love.

So Endgame meant as much to me as anyone else.

avatar by james cameron
Avatars In Love.

What I love about Avatar

But, Avatar.  Avatar is something different. It came out of nowhere and wasn’t part of a franchise or any preexisting property.  James Cameron took audiences to another world.  Avatar reflected my spirituality. For instance, the idea that we are all connected.  Plus, it came out at a time in my life when I needed a beautiful world to escape to.

It could be worse

If it had to happen, I’m glad Avatar was beaten by another movie I like.  At least it wasn’t a Jason Bourne film or a Transformers movie or a Fast and the Furious entry (they look fun, but I don’t keep up with them).

Still, it does kind of sting.  And it feels like Daddy beat Mommy at a
popularity contest.  As long as no one gives Jason Bourne super powers, I guess I’ll be okay.

(Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this, that Howard the Duck/Spider-Ham movie would really ease my pain.)

Movie review : Avatar

Endgame spoiler free review – We got what we needed!

Why Avatar Deserves to be the Number 1 Movie Over Avengers: Endgame

Was The Infinity War Snap actually random in who was dusted?

Tears in the Rain – RIP to Icon Rutger Hauer

rutger hauer
RIP to an Icon

Rutger Hauer sadly passed away July 19th, 2019. Hauer was a character actor best known for genre films.  His most famous and beloved role was the replicant (a type of cyborg) Roy Batty in the 1982 movie Blade Runner.  If Hauer had done nothing else, he would still be fondly remembered for this performance

It is said there are only so many basic story types.  Blade Runner can be seen as a take on Frankenstein: man vs his creation. 

The three replicants in the film seek vengeance against Eldon Tyrell, the rich scientist who created them.  They want longer lifespans than just the four years they are given.  Theirs are close to ending.  Although the replicants are the antagonists in the film, Hauer’s final speech makes it impossible not to feel sympathy for their plight.  Roy Batty’s final speech is made even more incredible by the fact that Hauer improvised the entire thing.  It wasn’t in the original script.  

Essential Rutger Hauer performances include: the movies Ladyhawke, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Hitcher.  To my knowledge, his last widely celebrated big screen performance was the title role in 2011’s violent instant cult classic Hobo With a Shotgun.  It was deeply disappointing that the filmmakers did not find a way to bring him back for Blade Runner 2049.  

Hauer will be missed, but his legacy in sci-fi  and fantasy cinema history is secure.  

Here’s Rutger Hauer’s beautiful, iconic Tears in the Rain speech from the 1982 Blade Runner:

 

To make sure you don’t miss essential moments like Roy Batty’s speech, always use the RunPee app.  We’ll have Peetimes for Ad Astra, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and all your other upcoming sci-fi favorites.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Blade Runner: 2049 review

About RunPee

How to find Older Movies in the RunPee App

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Review - Bethany Hamilton: UnstoppableBethany Hamilton’s Unstoppable as a documentary is hard to grade. I’m going through a ‘shark movie’ phase, and there were no toothy predators here. I expected to see Bethany’s harrowing events, feeling gripped and scared along with viewing her traumatic experience.

As it was, the documentary picks up only after the attack and healing phases. While it was lovely to see her determination to train harder than anyone else and get back to doing what she loves and excels in, I feel…well…tricked into seeing a surfing movie.

Do you love to surf? Do you follow the sport, revel in outstanding cinematography? (Those curls!!! The breaks are crazy and not for the timid.) Have you been following Bethany’s story on the news and online outlets? Then this will be a treat for you.

Bethany even experiences the normal happy life events a lovely young girl can expect (marriage, a baby), and after the attack and the childbearing, she had to work harder than anyone else out there on the waves — to not just compete among the world’s best caliber surfers alongside women like Courtney Conlogue and Nikki Van Dijk — but to show well and take home titles.

This gal is DETERMINED. The Terminator of water, disabled or not.

Remember, this is a Documentary

So, back to grading it. I’m not going to downgrade it as a disappointing outing when I expected, well, you know —> SHARKS. There are no sharks, even though this is released during Shark Week and arrives only a few weeks before the expected crazy chomp-chomp goodness of 47 Meters Down. (Sorry — I am being a total douchebag, but I wanted action sequences).

So I’ll grade this purely on the level of a surfing documentary. And I have to say, it was about average, but on the high end. There’s nothing here you can’t find poking around the internet about Bethany Hamilton. She’s a sweet girl and works Olympic-level hard at her sport.

I know she has great things ahead, and her disability means she has to pioneer new techniques about balance, steadfastness, and belief in one’s self.

It “breaks” down to this (pardon the pun): if you want to surf, or your child does, watch this. If you’re a girl, or someone with a disability, or just terrified of shark attacks, there’s an inspiring takeaway here. Don’t let anyone or anything shut down your dreams. Ever. And that’s why you should see this docu-film.

Go now, while Unstoppable is still in the theaters. (Docs have a short half-life until the awards seasons, coming next in 2020.)

But What About The Sharks?

If you’re looking for voyeuristic escapist shark-esque tales, stick to 47 Meters Down 1 & 2, The Reef, Deep Blue Sea, The Shallows, The Meg, Jurassic World 1 & 2 (the Mosasaurus), Jaws (an A+ film, if there ever was one), Crawl, or even those campy Sharknado films, for some man-eating survival tales.

(Tales/Tails…OMG what is with me and puns today? I am so disrespectful to this tasteful docu-drama, but I don’t mean it, really.)

I’m going to stop here because I really don’t want to be flippant over Hamilton’s real heroic journey. She’s a living legend at a tender age. A real life superhero. And don’t ever let the turkeys, or the sharks, get you down.

“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.”  -Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2.

Movie Grade: C+

About the Peetimes:  Since this is a surfing documentary and NOT a shark attack movie – at all – I’ll assume peeps who know of Bethany Hamilton are coming to see the fine surfing action & cinematography. Therefore I focused my 3 Peetimes on the many voice-overs and interviews you can find elsewhere online. The Recommended Peetime comes at 57 minutes, but all are just fine.

There are extra scenes of Bethany’s real life playing all across the credits, so you will want to stay throughout the very short ending. (What we mean by anything extra.)

The credits run for approximately 2 minutes.

Rated PG for some thematic elements. Genres: documentary, drama, true life story, sport.

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

https://runpee.com/newie-review-the-reef-low-budget-decent-non-campy-

http://runpee.com/jaws-runpees-re-watch-review/shark-movie/

Movie Review – The Meg

Lion King – Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

live action lion king with baby simba
It’s the Circle of life. (Sniff!)

The “live action” (actually CGI, folks) remake of The Lion King is hitting theaters.  This new version of the Disney 1994 classic features significant differences.  Now is a great time to return to Pride Rock — and revisit Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumbaa, Mufasa, Zazu, and Rafiki — as we compare the animated, Broadway, and the live action versions of The Lion King.

The Animated Version of The Lion King

In the summer of 1994, Disney released The Lion King.  It was the fifth film in the Disney renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.  It was also the first Disney animated film that featured an original story, and not an adaptation of an existing property.  Although it does have strong similarities to the play Hamlet….(link goes to our cool comparison post).

Elton John and Tim Rice wrote the award-winning songs for the soundtrack. Remember Hakuna Matata, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight?   Hans Zimmer himself composed the score.

The movie was a true critical and box office success!

hakuna matata log scene from lion king with simba, timon, and pumbaa
Hakuna matata, forever!

Synopsis of The Lion King (Spoilers)

The film starts with a young lion cub named Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), heir to his father Mufasa’s throne.

All three versions of The Lion King open with the song “The Circle of Life” with the mandrill Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) presenting newborn Simba to the animal kingdom, who bow in reverence.

Simba’s uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) murders Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and blames Simba for it, sending him into exile and taking over the throne.  Simba forms a new family with free spirits Meerkat Timon (Nathan Lane) and Warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), who rescue him in the desert.  He embraces their philosophy of “Hakuna Matata” (No Worries).

Time passes.  Simba’s friend and love interest Nala (Moira Kelly) goes in search of him, and finds adult Simba (Matthew Broderick).  They fall in love (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”)  Nala tells him the Pride Lands are in ruin and everyone is starving under Scar’s reign.  She urges him to return home.

Simba refuses and storms off, unable to tell Nala he “killed” Mufasa.  Simba runs into Rafiki, who tells him his father’s spirit lives on in him.  Simba is visited by Mufasa’s spirit, who tells him he must take his rightful place as king (the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther has this concept too, and is also from Disney Studios…hmmmm).

Unable to run anymore, Simba returns home.  Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyenas so Simba can get to Scar.  When Scar thinks he has Simba cornered, he confesses to murdering Mufasa.  Simba pins him to the ground and forces him to confess this out loud to everyone.  Like all Disney villains, Scar ends up getting what he deserves.  Simba takes his rightful place as king with Nala as his queen.  The last scene is of Rafiki presenting their own newborn cub.

The lion king broadway poster
See The Lion King on Broadway, or at Disneyworld, if you ever get the chance!

The Broadway Version of The Lion King

In 1997, Disney brought the Lion King to Broadway.  Beauty and the Beast was still going strong as a musical, so why not adapt one of their other biggest hits for the stage?  Indeed.

From the very start, Lion King was getting rave reviews and selling out. It won six Tonys, including Best Musical.  It is Broadway’s third-longest running show, and the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time.  It made over a billion dollars.  Julie Taymor became the first woman to win Best Director of a Musical.

One of the most significant differences between the Broadway version of — and the other versions of — The Lion King is the appearance of the animals.

Animation is not an option for a live theatrical Broadway performance.  Instead, Julie Taymor designed elaborate costumes — most of them based on puppetry — that create not only the illusion of the animals, but the grace of their movements.

Having seen the show at least five times, I can tell you the effect is breathtaking.  It is the kind of creative risk one wishes Disney would take more of.

rafiki in the lion king broadway musical
Rafiki in the Lion King Broadway musical

Another significant difference is that Rafiki was changed to female, and the role is now traditionally played by a woman on stage.  According to the Wikipedia, Taymor believed there was no leading female character in the film.  Rafiki becomes a sort of Greek chorus in the musical.  She actually leads the song, “The Circle of Life” at the top of the show.

New Lion King Songs in the Broadway Musical

Musicals are generally longer than the average Disney cartoon.  So material had to be added to flesh out the show.  Significant new songs included Zazu’s pun-filled “Morning Report,” Mufasa’s powerful explanation of ancestors “They Live in You,”  Rafiki’s reprise to Simba about Mufasa “He Lives in You,” and Simba’s lament “Endless Night.”

Other new songs written for the musical include:  “Grasslands Chant,” “The Lioness Hunt,” “Chow Down,” “Rafiki Mourns,” “One by One,” “The Madness of King Scar,” “Shadowland,” and “Simba Confronts Scar.”

The book was written by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, along with additional music and lyrics by Lebo MMark MancinaJay RifkinJulie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer.

Rafiki’s chants in “Rafiki Mourns” were written by Tsidii Le Loka, who originated the role on Broadway.  Of course, favorites from the animated movie such as “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” remain intact.

The Lion King musical also includes new scenes:

There is a conversation between Zazu and Mufasa about his parenting.  Timon nearly drowns in a waterfall while Simba watches, paralyzed.  This is an event that helps remind him of who he is and the power he has.  Nala departs from Scar when he tries to make her his queen in “The Madness of King Scar.”  She announces her intention to leave home and find help.  During new song “Shadowland”, the other lionesses and Rafiki bless her.

Meerkat Timon and Warthog Pumbaa in the Lion King Broadway musical
Meerkat Timon and Warthog Pumbaa in the Lion King Broadway musical

Of course, there were new actors playing the roles when the show debuted on Broadway.  The one I felt was especially cool was Max Casella, originating the role of Timon on-stage.  Those of you from my generation may remember him as Vinnie, Neil Patrick Harris’s best friend on Doogie Howser, M.D.

The Live Action Version of The Lion King

It is now 2019 and Disney has gone a little remake crazy. (Done or coming next: The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Mulan, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid.)  Then again, after seeing the promos that show the photo-realistic Circle of Life sequence, a live action Lion King kind of feels irresistible.

I should start off by saying “live action” is a misnomer.  Even though we’re all using this expression, the animals are actually computer generated animation.

A few things the new Lion King has in common with the original:  James Earl Jones is again the voice of Mufasa (as well he should be).  And Rafiki is male again.

Like the Broadway version, the new movie includes The Tokens’ classic pop song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  The Broadway song, “He Lives In You” is also represented.  “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are, of course, highlights of the film.

The movie also boasts a few new songs.  Beyonce contributed a song called “Spirit” and Elton John wrote a new song called “Never Too Late” — which plays over the credits.

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s new version of “Be Prepared” is reported to be toothless compared to the original Jeremy Irons version.  Which is ironic, because his version of Scar is angrier and scarier, according to reviews.  He even fought Mufasa for the crown and lost: a new addition to the villain’s back story.

The visuals in the new movie are beautiful.  This is constant across all versions of The Lion King.  The sets on Broadway are amazing.  The look of the original animated film is still dazzling.  (If they ever do another IMAX re-release or even just a theatrical re-release, I highly recommend it.)

According to critics, the new movie fails in two key areas:

One is that by making the film photo-realistic, the characters and the world are now bound by the constraints of reality.  For instance, you can’t have a massive animal pile-up at the climax of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” or an army of hyenas during “Be Prepared.”

The 1994 film wasn’t bound by such constraints.  The Broadway musical gets around this by using a combination of inventive costumes and set pieces, stage magic, and the participation of the audience.  When you’re watching a play, you fill in things with your own imagination.  You’re an active participant in the process.

When you watch a movie, you’re more passive.  You don’t get to co-create the experience with the filmmaker.

The second flaw with the new movie is the limited range of expression the animals have.  Again, this is a problem with setting the movie in a photo-realistic world.  In animation and theater, you can get away with going over the top.  In theater, you have to play to the back row.  However, to accurately portray how an animal looks, you can’t exaggerate its features.

And Timon and Pumbaa? 

The good news is that Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) steal the show here (as they do in pretty much every version).  Some critics claim they’re even more fun in this version than in the original.

*****

Don’t forget to bring the RunPee app to The Lion King

It’s a jungle out there.  Don’t go to the movies without the RunPee app or you  might miss the best parts.  We’ve got Peetimes for The Lion King, Toy Story 4, and Spider-Man: Far From Home, with new movies added every week.  To stay up to date on the latest movie news and reviews, follow us on Twitter @RunPee and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Aladdin –  Animated vs Stage vs Live Action

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

Character voices for Lion King

John Wick-Chapter 4 announced

John Wick: Parabellum unseated Avengers: Endgame as the number one box office draw this weekend. LionsGate studios rewarded fans with this text message: “You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming — May 21, 2021.”

Read the entire story at IndieWire.

‘John Wick 4’ Set for 2021 Release, But Don’t Expect a Happy Ending

Aladdin –  Animated vs Stage vs Live Action

aladdin disney live action posterThe Aladdin remake will be flying into theaters soon.  This will be Disney’s third version of this popular story, including the 2014 Broadway musical.  So how does it compare to its predecessors? Let’s find out.

NOTE:  Aladdin article contains SPOILERS.  

Aladdin Sidekicks

In the animated film, Aladdin has a monkey pal named Abu and an anthropomorphized magic carpet.  Princess Jasmine has a pet tiger named Rajah.

In the musical, Aladdin has a magic carpet but it does not high-five.  It mainly has one big moment — and you can guess what that is. Abu is missing from the stage version.  One can imagine how difficult it would be to train a small monkey for this part. Or how ridiculous a man in a monkey costume might look playing the role!  Similarly, Jasmine does not get her tiger. However, Aladdin does get three new human friends named Babkak, Omar, and Kassim who provide plenty of comic relief.  

In the live action movie, Rajah appears to be back.  And I’ve seen Abu and the magic carpet interacting with each other briefly in one promo.  

Sadly, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim were not included in the new film.

New Characters in Aladdin

The live action remake introduces two significant new characters not found in the musical or the animated film.  One is Dalia, Princess Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante, who provides some comic relief. The other is Prince Anders, a suitor and potential husband (yeah, right) for Jasmine from the kingdom of Skånland.  

Iago – Jafar’s Henchman

Jafar’s loud parrot henchman, an audience favorite, was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried in the original film.  

On Broadway, the role of Iago was originated by Don Darryl Rivera, and Iago is not a parrot but a human being.  He is still Jafar’s henchman.

In the new movie, Iago is a parrot again.  However, the character is voiced by Alan Tudyk.  It’s the first time the character has been voiced by someone other than Gottfried, who has been the voice of Iago since 1992.  Gottfried has voiced the character in movies, TV shows, video games, and even in a Disney World attraction.

will smith as the aladdin genieThe Genie

Robin Williams played the Genie in the animated film in one of his most beloved roles of all time.  Williams was already like a living cartoon character, and now he got to be one. The medium was the perfect vehicle for his manic energy and his gift for impersonation.    

On stage, the song “Friend Like Me” remains a showstopper — even with a live human being who only has the benefit of stage magic and back-up dancers.   (The televised Tony performance does not do justice to the effect of the full set and stage effects.) The actor does not wear blue paint on their body (think Elphaba in Wicked), but has a flashy blue outfit on instead.  He does not try to be Robin Williams because no one can replicate that performance. Rather, he puts his own spin on the character and finds his own way to make the Genie charming and larger than life.

Will Smith’s Genie is a mix of live-action and CGI and is even blue for part of the movie.  He is able to do things that can’t be done on stage — closer to the animated version.  It will be fun to see what the filmmakers do with this new version of the Genie that exists between live action and animation.

The Music of Aladdin

The original animated film is famous for the romantic ballad “A Whole New World” and the humorous “Friend Like Me.”  These are both previewed in the trailer for the new film, and footage has been released of Will Smith singing “Prince Ali.”

The track list for the new movie has not been released yet.  However, it’s safe to assume that most (if not all) of the songs from the original film will be reappear in the new one, including opening number “Arabian Nights” and “One Jump Ahead”.

The Broadway show contains these same songs, but also some new numbers, including “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” about the main character and his three troublemaker buddies.  

Other New Songs from the Musical Include:

“Proud of Your Boy”  (sung by Aladdin)

“A Million Miles Away” (sung by Aladdin and Jasmine )

“Diamond in the Rough” (sung by Jafar to convince Aladdin to get the lamp)

“High Adventure”  (sung by Babkak, Omar, and Kasim)

“Somebody’s Got Your Back” (sung by Aladdin to his friends)

The Cave of Wonders

(Note: From this point on, I am mostly comparing the animated film and the Broadway musical.  I have not been able to see the new movie yet, and there is still an embargo on reviews.)

In the animated version, Jafar seeks the lamp at the Cave of Wonders and is told only a diamond in the rough may enter, at the beginning of the film.  In the musical, this happens later in Act I after the audience has already met Aladdin and Jasmine.

In both versions, Jafar figures out Aladdin is the diamond in the rough, and Aladdin is captured by the palace guards after meeting Jasmine. Jafar uses him to try to get the lamp.  In the movie, Jafar disguises himself as an old man, and frees Aladdin and Abu before taking them to the cave. In the musical, Jafar keeps his original form and stops Aladdin from being executed.

In both versions, Aladdin is instructed to touch nothing but the lamp.

In the movie, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and Abu takes a jewel in addition to the lamp.  Aladdin and Abu rush to fly out of the collapsing cave on the carpet. They give the lamp to Jafar, who pushes them back into the cave, but not before Abu steals the lamp back.  In the musical, Aladdin is tempted to take some golden coins along with the lamp, and is trapped when the cave seals itself off.

In all three versions, this is when Aladdin rubs the lamp, meets the Genie, and Genie sings “Friend Like Me” by way of introduction.  Aladdin then tricks Genie into freeing him from the cave without using up one of his wishes.

aladdin magic carpet with jasminRomancing Jasmine

In both versions of the story, Jasmine escapes from the palace and visits Agrabah in disguise, where she meets Aladdin.  This is where the story begins. Aladdin’s first wish, even in the trailer for the newest movie, is to become a prince so that he can woo the princess.  (“There’s a lot of gray area in ‘Make me a prince.’”) Act II of the musical begins with “Prince Ali” — in which Genie and Aladdin’s three besties lead a parade announcing his arrival.  

It’s one of the highlights of the animated film as well, minus his friends. In both versions, Jasmine is angry when she overhears Prince Ali discussing her future with the Sultan. He makes it up to her with a magic carpet ride and one of the most romantic songs in Disney history (“A Whole New World”).  Only then does Jasmine recognize him as Aladdin. He lies and says he only dresses as a peasant to get away from everything, like she does.

will smith as genie in Aladdin and the live action disney remakeThree Wishes

Aladdin’s first wish is always to be a prince and he always promises Genie his last wish will be to set Genie free.  In both the animated and musical versions, Aladdin is captured by the palace guards immediately following the romantic interlude.  In the animated film, he is thrown into the sea. Genie decides that the unconscious Aladdin would want to use his second wish to be saved and rescues him.  

In the musical, Aladdin is arrested for impropriety. His three buddies storm the castle to rescue him..and end up in the dungeon as well. Aladdin uses his second wish to rescue them.  Aladdin meets the Sultan in the hall and he gives Aladdin his blessing to marry Jasmine. Overwhelmed at the responsibility of being Sultan one day, Aladdin goes back on his word, telling Genie he needs to save his last wish in case he needs it someday.  In the movie, Aladdin also refuses to free Genie, fearing he’ll lose Jasmine if the truth comes out.

In both versions, Jafar steals the lamp and becomes Genie’s new master.  Aladdin tricks Jafar into wishing to become an all-powerful Genie, and then traps him in the lamp.  

In the movie, Genie encourages Aladdin to use his final wish to regain his royal title so he can be with Jasmine.  However, Aladdin sets Genie free instead. The Sultan, seeing the nobility in Aladdin, then proclaims that the princess can marry whoever she wants.  

In the musical, Aladdin sets Genie free, saying he can’t pretend to be someone he’s not. The Sultan decrees the princess can marry whoever she wants.  Aladdin’s buddies are made royal advisers.

Final Aladdin Thoughts

There are a few ways the new movie may stand apart from its predecessors.  With Guy Ritchie directing (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, Lock Stock), this is supposed to be the most action-packed version of Aladdin we’ve seen so far.  

Early rumors were that the story is supposed to be told non-linearly, which would also fit with Ritchie’s style.

Princess Jasmine gets more of a narrative arc.  Actress Naomi Scott told Reuters, “[Jasmine] finds her voice and she goes through a journey to find it. …I want little girls to see that.”  Some viewers have complained the film is about twenty minutes or so too long.  It is a half hour longer than the animated film, and does not have an intermission like the musical.  

Be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for Aladdin.  And if you’re riding your magic carpet to see Toy Story 4, The Lion King, and Artemis Fowl, we’ll have Peetimes for them too.  You can also follow us on Twitter and FaceBook @ RunPee for the latest movie and Peetime news. 

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Prepare for #Disney’s #Aladdin with this comparison of the animated film, the #Broadway #musical, and the live action #remake.  #GoldenMan will keep you one jump ahead with his cinema knowledge. #Genie #Jasmine #Iago #Jafar #Abu #MagicCarpet #RobinWilliams #GuyRitchie #WillSmith #AWholeNewWorld #FriendLikeMe

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

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Movie Review – Dumbo – A live action remake your kids will enjoy

How Captain Marvel Stole Shazam’s Name

shazam movie posterIt’s no surprise that Captain Marvel and Shazam! both had movies released within weeks of each other this year.  Despite being from separate comic universes, the two superheroes have always been inextricably linked by a connection with their name.

Shazam was the original Captain Marvel?!

The DC Comics character Shazam was originally known as Captain Marvel.  He started out as a Fawcett Comics character in 1940 and was the most popular superhero at the time.  In 1953, DC filed a lawsuit against Fawcett claiming Captain Marvel was basically just a version of Superman.  In 1972, Fawcett sold the character rights to Captain Marvel to DC.

Shazam’s search for a name

However, Marvel Comics was already using the copyrighted name Captain Marvel by then for their own original character.  (Note:  At this point, Captain Marvel was still male and not the Carol Danvers of the later era.)  So DC began marketing the character using the copyrighted phrase “Shazam!”, which is what protagonist Billy Batson says to change into a superhero and vice versa.  Many consumers assumed this was the name of the character.

When DC relaunched the title in 2011, they officially named the character Shazam!  There is a running gag in the new movie Shazam! about what to call the main character, which is a sly reference to his history of name changes.  Plus the title Captain Sparkle Fingers probably didn’t test well with audiences.

If you love superheroes, be sure to download the RunPee app.  Kevin Feige has said there will be no time to pee during Avengers: Endgame, but we’ve got your back.  We already have Peetimes and a review available.  You can also follow us on Twitter @RunPee for the latest movie news.

A Happy Shazam Review – A delightful time in the DC universe (for once)

Captain Marvel vs the Internet Trolls – A Common New Film Controversy

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

First Star Wars Skywalker Trailer Breakdown

I remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater at a very young age and falling in love with ewoks. For most of my life, there were only three Star Wars films (and a brilliant Mel Brooks parody of them). And the vague promise that maybe someday George Lucas would make episodes I-III.

In middle school, I walked out of the bathroom at a local movie theater to see a poster for something called Revenge of the Jedi and got super excited. I didn’t realize it was the original title for Return of the Jedi.

It’s mind-blowing to me that soon there will not only be nine Star Wars films (featuring the main storyline) but there will be a conclusion to Anakin, Luke, Leia, and presumably Rey’s stories. After months of speculation and anticipation, the trailer and title for Star Wars Episode IX was finally revealed at Star Wars Celebration.

Here’s a blow by blow of what’s in the trailer:

–The first thing we see is Rey with Luke’s light saber (good catch by Cinemablend) on a desert planet. The last film in a trilogy can sometimes be about returning to where you started. So this may be Jakku or Tatooine.

–We hear Luke in voiceover: “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.” Great dialogue. So inspiring!

–A title card says: “Every generation has a legend.” Presumably, this is Rey as she is on-screen at the moment and the main protagonist of this trilogy. I love this. Rey is not only a legend in the world of the film, but a legend for a generation of moviegoers.

–Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer races towards Rey as she draws her lightsaber. Rey runs and does a flip, her lightsaber seemingly about to do some major damage to that TIE fighter.

–A title card says: “This Christmas” (The movie comes out December 20.)

–A ship flies over a city near a mountainous location. This is most likely a place we haven’t visited before.

–Kylo Ren takes someone down hard with his lightsaber. I don’t care what anyone says. I think Adam Driver’s a badass.

–A shot of Kylo’s mask being repaired.

–A shot of Finn and Poe on a desert planet, presumably the same one Rey is on. I can’t wait to see these two together again.

–BB-8 with new droid friend D-0.

–Lando Calrissian is back at the controls of the Millennium Falcon and looking as happy to be there as we are to have him there again.

–A title card reads: “The saga comes to an end.” Both a promise and an ominous warning. They are wrapping up this storyline. It will not drag on forever needlessly. But everyone may not make it out of this adventure alive.

–I give up. Take away my nerd card. I don’t know what those vehicles and/or weapons are. Basically, more desert action.

–Poe, Finn, and C-3PO are sailing some kind of ship through the desert and being fired on.

–A ship goes down in flames.

–Someone (Leia?) rubs a rebel alliance medal.

–Leia hugs Rey in the trailer’s most emotional moment.

–Luke (in voiceover) says: “We’ll always be with you.”

–Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, C-3PO, BB-8, and D-0 gaze at the remains of a Death Star. We don’t know if this is the Death Star from episodes IV-VI or a new Death Star.

–In voiceover, Luke says: “No one’s ever really gone.” A comforting sentiment.

–The screen goes black. We hear the wicked laugh of the Emperor/Palpatine. Apparently no one is ever really gone.

–And finally, that beauty of a title: The Rise of Skywalker. Doesn’t it give you chills? There are several theories as to what the title means. Some think a new order of Jedis will be dubbed Skywalkers. I’m with those who are hoping Rey’s heritage will be retconned and she’ll be revealed to be a true Skywalker.

Be sure to use the RunPee app so you won’t miss an essential moment of Episode IX or any other movie you care about. We’ve got Peetimes for Captain Marvel, Shazam!, and Avengers: Endgame. And we’ll have Peetimes for all the summer blockbusters like John Wick 3, Toy Story 4, Child’s Play (more Mark Hamill!), Spider-Man: Far From Home and more. You can also follow us on Twitter @RunPee for the latest movie news.