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

All the Disney Princess Songs – with You Tube Clips

moana disney princess
Singing to water and/or birdies is a Disney Princess thing.

What is a Disney Princess wish-filled ” I Want” song? Notice how all the girls — and some of the guys, IE: Aladdin and Snow White’s Prince Charming — have a song full of exposition about their hopes and wishes? This was even parodied in Ralph Breaks The Internet in a genius scene where the Princesses talk about singing a song and looking into water, leading Vanellope to find a puddle and sing her own ” I Want” song.

I don’t know why Princess Vanellope isn’t a proper princess, but I suspect she’s just too young.

ralph breaks the internet and princess venelope
Wreck-It Ralph himself- proof one can be both zero and hero.

There’s one official Disney Princess that doesn’t have a song — can you guess who this is? (Merida from Brave.) Also, Elsa from Frozen is not considered an official Princess for Disney marketing reasons, but she SHOULD be a princess, jeez, and Anna too. Elsa’s ” I Want” song is award-winning and beloved by fans. So I’m adding it to this list. Also, I really think of Nala from The Lion King should be a Disney Princess. She’s mated to Simba, and it says he’s a King right in the movie title. So her song is here too.

I’m rewatching each song clip right now to see if they all sing to some form of water. Can you guess which songs don’t feature water? I’ll write the answer below!

With no further ado, here are the all Disney Princess wishing songs with their song clips from You Tube — enjoy!

Snow White – “I’m Wishing”

Cinderella – “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

Aurora – “I Wonder”

Ariel – “Part of Your World”

Belle – “Belle (reprise)”

Jasmine – “A Whole New World”

Nala – “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”

Pocahontas – “Just Around the Riverbend”

Mulan – “Reflection”

Tiana – “Almost There”

Rapunzel – “When Will My Life Begin”

Moana – “How Far I’ll Go”

Elsa – “Let it Go”

Vanellope – “A Place Called Slaughter Race”

So, who doesn’t sing to water?

Rapunzel, for one, unless you count paint. Belle doesn’t sing to any water in her song. Tiana doesn’t either, unless you count a pot of gumbo. I’m easy. Who else? Aurora and Cinderella only sing to birds, which is very “early Disney.”

Which I Want Princess songs are your favorites? Tell us in the comment section below. (I’ll tell you mine there to get started.)

Movie Review – Ralph Breaks the Internet

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

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

Video – Opening Scene to La La Land (that amazing traffic jam dance)

emma stone and ryan gosling dance in la la land
I don’t buy their relationship, but they sure can dance.

It’s no secret I’m not a big fan of La La Land (as in, the movie. The city itself is fine.) Mostly I think La La Land is a bit silly and overly sentimental. It won a lot of awards, but I just didn’t love it. (Thankfully, I didn’t have to do the Peetimes.)

Also, I think the character Ryan Gosling plays is a jerk, and the film’s ending is not my brand of bittersweet.

But…the opening number is REALLY something else. Jamming during a traffic  jam on a gridlocked Los Angeles bridge — under that bright blue California sky — is not only a charming idea, but the choreography is a stunning showstopper.

Even if you’re not fond of movie musicals, this fantasy sequence is a pure winner. Too bad flash mobs don’t actually do this in real life! Here’s the entire video of the beginning scene that’s sure to bring a smile to your face:

Although I’d give this movie a B- myself, this dancing cold open deserves all the A plusses I can muster.

Read RunPee Mom’s capsule movie review of LaLa Land:

Movie Review – La La Land

RunPee FAQs (about)

RunPee’s “Golden Rule”

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)

 

Easter Eggs in Aladdin and The Lion King – Disney References Past Movies

Lion King: Timon
Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test!

Who knew classic, straight-laced, non-Pixar, Original Flavor Disney would start using Easter Eggs? It’s possible they’ve been doing this all along and I haven’t noticed, but usually there’s not a whiff of cross-pollination between, say, Princess properties. No nods to Snow White in Sleeping Beauty, for example, even though both feature winsome lasses in comas needing True Love’s Kiss. (Great plot resolution, folks. Sheesh.)

But then Pixar came around, relying on fresh humor often aimed squarely at adults. Pixar wasn’t afraid to mix up their universes with dozens of Easter Eggs for sharp-eyed fans to spot, especially on re-watches.

The Pixar Theory, and Beyond

In fact, there’s an entire Pixar Theory devoted to the notion that every Pixar film — with settings from the dawn of the dinosaurs, through to man’s diaspora through space — is one long, related story. Eagle-eyed viewers pour over every frame of Pixar films to spot connections between them. I’ve looked for, and found, Rex from Toy Story as a wood carving in Brave. This lends credence to the Boo (from Monsters, Inc) Theory. These things aren’t accidents.

The Carlin Brothers do a great job illustrating the Pixar Theory in their longish video (below). I think some of it’s too reachy, but the idea is fabulous and I’m willing to go all in.

It’s not just Pixar that does Easter Eggs now. Every genre franchise, including those of Star Wars, Marvel Studios, DC, Dreamworks, Sony, and “beyond” use Easter Eggs as a matter of principle.

Then…Disney bought Pixar (and Star Wars, and Marvel too).

Live Action Disney Does Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs are finally appearing in even the sacred Princess films, which were always the most straight-laced offerings in the Disney Vault. But since we’re seeing Eggs now in the live-action/CGI remakes, maybe this is where Disney decided to test the waters.

I’m going to mention a few Easter Eggs I spotted in Aladdin and The Lion King, the most recently remade Disney films, which both have Princesses.

(I’m counting Nala here. If Simba is a King, then Nala is a Queen.)

Lion King: Nala
Totally a Disney Princess.

Note: I’m not going to even try to mention Easter Eggs in Ralph Breaks the Internet, which doesn’t qualify as a remake of a Disney Classic, and is honestly one long series of amusing Easter Eggs. Feel free to mention those in the comments below, along with any other Eggs you’ve spotted elsewhere.

ralph breaks the internet and princess venelope
Uncountable Easter Eggs. Do you realize how long an article would have to be to list them all?

Easter Eggs in 2019’s Aladdin and Lion King Remakes

  • Aladdin: This one is a self-contained movie reference. The Disney studio logo opens, showing a sailing ship on their river, then pulls back to see the Disney Castle. Then the movie itself opens on a sailing ship. I need to see this again now to determine if it’s the same boat.
    will smith as genie in Aladdin and the live action disney remake
    You ain’t never had a friend like Genie, in either version.
  • When Genie is dressing Aladdin in the desert, the magic carpet plays in the sand in the background. Over a series of shots, we see Carpet making a sand castle. In the final shot of this, it’s clear the castle is a sand replica of the Disney Castle from the studio logo, and Carpet shoots a stream of sand over it that looks like the shooting star we see at the end of the logo sequence.

I didn’t even notice what Carpet was doing on my first watch. But it’s obvious now and very clever. (Logo sequence below is from 2011, but shows the castle and star.)

  • Aladdin: There’s a great nod to Shrek when he turns Abu into a donkey. Shrek is the tentpole of DreamWorks, a competitor, which is interesting. Genie utters a line like, “No, too obvious,” — pretty amusing, and only makes sense if it’s a subtle dig on Shrek.
  • Aladdin: My sister is an even bigger fan of Disney than I, and we went to see Aladdin together. She noticed Jafar had a lion sculpture on his desk that looked like Uncle Scar from The Lion King. I’d love to hear if anyone can confirm this.
    Lion King Scar
    Scar is actually his nickname. I looked it up. It’s a little cruel that Mufasa calls him that in public.
  • Aladdin: I can’t say for certain if this was intentional, but when Iago (just Parrot in the remake) becomes Giant Parrot, there’s a sequence suspiciously like one in Jurassic World
  • The Lion King: I only saw the remake once, but found one very obvious Easter Egg. It’s when Timon calls out to the hyenas to come and eat them (Timon and Pumbaa are acting as ‘bait’ for Simba and Nala) — it’s the beginning phrase of the big showstopping number Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast. I laughed out loud at that one. Timon even uses a mock French accent as he says dramatically, “Be…our…guest”: it looks like he’s about to burst into song, as the music swells. Then the chase begins. It’s a super fun moment.
    Lion King: Pumbaa
    Delicious pork bait.

    Only a few other people in the audience laughed, though, so they clearly missed it. If I’d seen The Lion King opening night, you BET the die-hard fans would have exploded into wild appreciation. (Disney superfans are fanatic. These are the people that dressed in ballgowns during the remade Beauty and the Beast on opening night.)

That’s All, Folks

Unfortunately, that’s all I have right now from The Lion King. I’ll be looking for Eggs if I catch it again at the theater. On first viewings, it’s hard to notice background events. Naturally. Easter Eggs delight and reward us during subsequent watches.

I’m glad Disney’s decided to join the new century finally and break down their 4th wall here and there. (Maybe acquiring Deadpool was a good influence!)

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

Movie Review – Aladdin (2019) – A Live Action Remake, Good for the Target Audience

 

 

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

Na'vi girl in avatar
It’s not easy being Blue…

With Avengers: Endgame passing Avatar to become the highest grossing movie of all time, I’ve recently gotten into a lot of heated debates with my friends as to why I think Avatar is more deserving of #1.

So I’m going to tell you — in a more calm manner than I do my friends — why I think Avatar is still Number 1.

Avatar Revolutionized Film-Making

The first thing we can’t ignore is that Avatar pushed new boundaries for film-making when it came out. Avatar revolutionized the visual effects industry with its ground-breaking CGI…which still looks amazing 10 years later.

Don’t get me wrong — if you know what to look for, you can easily spot where they took shortcuts with the effects. For example, how several of the wildlife creatures are sleek and black…meaning they didn’t have to render a lot of texture on the skin. But all of it still looks spectacular.

With Avengers: Endgame, while the CGI is on a technical level better than Avatar, doesn’t push it to the next level, and still looks on par for Avatar.

If you put these two movies side by side, it would be hard to tell whose CGI is better.

Anvengers endgame superheroes
However, we DO know everyone’s name here…

Better Characters? Or Just More of Them?

Now let’s talk about the characters. It’s been a joke for a while now that people can’t name a single character from Avatar, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have good characters. The actors give great performances to bring them to life, and you feel genuinely sad when someone dies.

Now of course Avengers: Endgame has superb characters: that much can’t be denied, but the main reason we feel so bad when someone dies in Endgame is because we have seen these characters on screen for quite some time. Endgame wasn’t just a one and done, it built up over 20+ films. Avatar had to build its characters in one go. And this leads nicely into my next point…

Avengers: Endgame didn’t come out of the blue with Marvel expecting it to flop. It came out a hit from the beginning. Book-ending 11 years worth of movies Endgame had so many people behind it already. Avatar had Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel come out a week after it, because Fox thought Avatar would flop. Not even Fox backed up Avatar.

And one small extra point: both of these movies came out a second time with additional features in the movie theaters. But generally everyone agrees that Avengers: Endgame extra content sucked, while Avatar came out with essentially a Directors Cut of the film, which just made it better. 

avatar na'vi man and woman
You have to admit, they look good together.

The World Building is Unmatched in Avatar, Comparatively

Now my favorite part: the world building. The world building on Avatar is done extremely well. Watching the movie, you learn about these alien creatures, what happened to Earth, how the tribe works, how their lives work, and so much more.

In Avengers: Endgame, while yes, there is some world building done through the characters, at the end of the day it’s Earth, it’s New York. You understand it’s being destroyed, but if you want to know what happens after that — and to get more of the world building you have to turn to other Marvel associated content.

For example: you don’t know what happened to clean up New York in 2012 unless you watch a special they released, shortly after the original Avengers film. In Avatar, once the tree is destroyed you see the aftermath; you see where the Na’vi go to hide; you see what happens. There are some questions left unanswered, but at least I only have to wait until 2021 to get some answers, where as with Marvel I have to watch every TV show they have to figure it out. [Editor’s note: the TV shows are optional, you know — you don’t even need to see Agents of SHIELD, unless you’re a huge Agent Coulson fan…]

thanos in avengers endgame with his sword
Seriously. Is that a sword or a helicopter propeller?

What About…the Plot? And the Villains?

And, of course I have to bring up the last point I hear all the time…the plot. I constantly hear Avatar’s plot is basic and boring. Which I don’t understand; both movies basically have the same plot.

It’s just that in one, the bad guy is greedy and want to destroy nature to get to minerals to fill his greed…and in the other you have the villain who wants to control the population, and kills half of the living organisms in his way. Both of these villains are the same. Both are so blinded by their own ways that they wreck everything else in their way.

And besides that, it’s your standard good vs. bad scenario. It’s nothing new, but when you watch these movies you get so invested in what’s going on. As far as I’m concerned, the plots follow the same beats, just like every other movie ever. 

Really. Both are Winners.

Listen, at the end of the day both of these movies are fantastic, and both have their flaws. But you can’t deny the impact and influence Avatar has had on movies.

Everything I said just either agreed with one person or pissed off another; there’s nothing I can do about that. But I do invite everyone to comment below with your counter arguments, or even just your thoughts.

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

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

Movie review : Avatar

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

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

The entire MCU Movie Order – Several Options for your pre-Avengers Endgame Watch or Rewatch

Avengers MCU superheroes
Many MCU movies, in several orders for your rewatch.

Want to watch, or rewatch, all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? (Aka, the MCU.) The first thing you have to figure out is what order you’re going to watch them in. There’s more than one way to go about this, and I’ll break down the list into a few options.

Keep it simple: Watch in the order of film release

The release order isn’t my personal preference, but it will do. Note: there is no shame in skipping The Incredible Hulk altogether. Sure, for the sake of completeness it’s good to watch Edward Norton’s Hulk, but that movie just barely fits with the rest of the MCU (except in the last few seconds).

  1. Iron Man (2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (2010)
  4. Thor (2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  6. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
  7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  12. Ant-Man (2015)
  13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  14. Doctor Strange (2016)
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  18. Black Panther (2018)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  21. Captain Marvel (2019)
  22. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Watch in MCU chronological order

The MCU movies weren’t actually released in the order that they happen. It takes a minor tweak to fix that. Chronologically, Captain America: The First Avenger happened first — during WWII — although it was the 5th movie released. Then you would follow with Captain Marvel — 1990s — which was the 21st movie released. There is some logic to this order, but again, I wouldn’t suggest it. I think going by movie release order makes for a more enjoyable watch than this. But here it is anyway.

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  2. Captain Marvel (2019)
  3. Iron Man (2008)
  4. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  5. Iron Man 2 (2010)
  6. Thor (2011)
  7. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
  8. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  12. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  13. Ant-Man (2015)
  14. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  15. Doctor Strange (2016)
  16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  17. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  18. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  19. Black Panther (2018)
  20. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  21. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  22. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Maximum Effect

My suggestion is to follow the movie release order, up to a point. Black Panther and Spiderman: Homecoming have events that take place immediately after Captain America: Civil War. You don’t need to see Doctor Strange until just before Avengers: Infinity War, actually, but you may as well view it before the Guardians of the Galaxy Movies I & II . You see, the GotG movies are completely independent from the rest of the previous MCU movies. However, they tie in closely with Avengers: Infinity War. Therefore I would recommend skipping over those two in the release order.

Therefore, to maximize your enjoyment I recommend watching Guardians I, Guardians II, then Thor: Ragnarok, right before Infinity War. In fact, if you have 5 hours to spare, you could watch Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War back-to-back because they literally take place moments apart.

  1. Iron Man (2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (2010)
  4. Thor (2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  6. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
  7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  10. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  11. Ant-Man (2015)
  12. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  13. Black Panther (2018)
  14. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  15. Doctor Strange (2016)
  16. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  18. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) *
  21. Captain Marvel (2019)
  22. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

* Note: Ant-Man and the Wasp fits better before Infinity War, however — and this is huge — you must NOT watch the two extra scenes until after Infinity War on a 1st viewing. That said, if you did want to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp out of order for a re-watch, I’d put it after Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

Avengers Infinity War – Heroes Missing in Action & Probably Snapped

Every Stan Lee Cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Everything You Need to Know About Hellboy

Hellboy reboot movie
Hell’s a bitch, boy.

Hellboy opens on April 12, 2019.  It will be the titular character’s third major theatrical adventure.  Not sure who Hellboy is? Never heard of the B.P.R.D.? Wondering what’s up with his forehead? No worries. We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what the deal is for the new Hellboy movie:  

— Hellboy is a popular comic book character.  However, the movie will not be like your typical superhero or comic book movie.  

— Hellboy is a half-demon, summoned from hell as a baby by Nazi occultists.  His actual Latin name means “And upon his brow is set a crown of flame.” Which brings context to one of the movie posters and an image from the trailer.  

— One of Hellboy’s main weapons is his right hand, which is made of stone.  

— Hellboy has horns, but he files them off.  This is why he has two large round stubs on his forehead.  

— Hellboy is destined to bring about the apocalypse, but he rejects that destiny. 

— Hellboy was raised by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm like a normal boy.  

— Professor Bruttenholm founded the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.).  Hellboy works for the B.P.R.D.

— Guillermo del Toro made two films featuring the character Hellboy:  Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Del Toro chose not to finish what was originally planned to be a trilogy.

— Ron Perlman was the first actor to play Hellboy in the original films.  He is famous for playing Vincent in the Beauty and the Beast TV series and Clay on Sons of Anarchy.  Perlman said he feels remorse for not completing the trilogy, and that he feels like he let the fans down.  

— Doug Jones played fan-favorite character Abe Sapien (an amphibious man) in the original films.  The character will not appear in the new movie. Jones was invited to do a cameo but had to decline.  He had a scheduling conflict with the shooting schedule for Star Trek: Discovery. He also had an injury which prevented him from taking on the physically demanding role.  (Side note: If you ever get the chance, it’s totally worth waiting in line to meet Doug Jones and get an autograph. He’s one of the kindest, most gracious people I’ve met at any of the cons.  And why wouldn’t you want to support one of our greatest living character actors?)    

— The new movie is a reboot, not a sequel.  It stars David Harbour (Sheriff Hopper from Stranger Things) as Hellboy.    

— It will be more of a horror film than the original, which was more of a fantasy film.  

— The new movie will be more faithful to the comic books.  Creator Mike Mignola was a concept artist on the original Hellboy movie.  He’s been more involved with the script for the reboot.  

— The movie will be bloodier and more adult.  In an interview with Empire, Harbour said, “There’s really a sense that you’re actually killing things, even if they are giants or monsters. You’re chopping their heads off, you’re bathing in their blood, and you’re feeling the complex feelings of actually cutting the heart out of another thing. We’re taking the time to deal with the fact that Hellboy is a killer. He’s a weapon.” 

— The movie is not an origin story and begins in the middle of the action.

— David Harbour says the stunts made it the hardest shoot he’s ever done. 

— The main villain is Blood Witch Nimue, who wants to join the monster world and the human world.  The character is played by Milla Jovovich, who’s no stranger to monster movies as the star of the Resident Evil series.  

–The main inspiration for the movie is The Wild Hunt storyline from the comics, but there are also elements from Darkness Calls and The Storm and The Fury.

–When the producers were accused of whitewashing, by hiring a white actor to play a Japanese character from the comics, actor Ed Skrein resigned so they could recast the role.  Daniel Dae Kim was then cast in the part of Major Ben Daimio.

— The original Hellboy had a girlfriend played by Selma Blair.  David Harbour says his version of Hellboy is more isolated and is unable to have sex with humans.

This presumably makes the apocalypse more appealing.  

— David Harbour told Empire, “In our movie Hellboy’s younger. He’s rougher. He’s much more of a teenager. He’s really struggling with the idea of whether or not he’s a good person.” 

— In an interview with Independent, Harbour compared Hellboy to Hamlet.  “On a surface level, he’s an adopted kid from Hell. He was meant to bring about the apocalypse. Yet, he just wants to be a good guy and fight evil. But he has this destiny. That struggle is very Hamlet-esque, even having tones of Coriolanus, where you have this guy who cannot understand his own true nature. Those levels of complexity, if we can bring that to this movie, which we’re trying to do, I think will be really rich.”

— The producers already have loose ideas for sequels.

Be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes and a review for Hellboy, and to find out if there’s anything after the credits.  Follow us on Twitter @RunPee to stay up to date on the latest movie news.

Peetimes are coming soon for Shazam and Avengers: Endgame — make sure you have the RunPee app on your phone, so you won’t miss a moment of the action.

Making of Hellboy Featurette — Enjoy!

Clever Moments You Might Have Missed Watching The Horror-Thriller Movie Us

Did Jordan Peele Play Fair? Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed On Your First Viewing of Us

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

Did Jordan Peele Play Fair? Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed On Your First Viewing of Us

Scissors from Jordan Peele movie Us
This poster contains a clue.

Jordan Peele made a splash with the satiric horror film Get Out and even won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  His new movie Us proves he’s not just a one-hit wonder, but a visionary filmmaker who will keep surprising, delighting, and frightening us for years to come.  (He’s already in talks to do a new Candyman film.)

One of the joys of Us is that it lends itself well to multiple viewings. I enjoyed it even more my second time around. There are things you won’t see your first time because you don’t know to look for them. Us is one of the rare films like The Sixth Sense or Memento that practically demands you watch it again immediately.  I watched this movie a second time two days after my first watch. 

Us — What I Noticed on My Second Viewing

— The movies on the shelf in the opening shot are Goonies, C.H.U.D., A Nightmare on Elm Street (which I thought was The Man With Two Brains because I can’t see well apparently), and some VHS tape I’m not sure anyone has been able to read the title of.  A lot of the action in Goonies takes place underground. The monsters in C.H.U.D. live underneath the city. Both of these are Easter eggs foreshadowing the Tethered.

— Adelaide’s father wins her a Thriller t-shirt.  Thriller is the video in which Michael Jackson reveals to his girlfriend he secretly has a monster inside him.  Just like adult Adelaide secretly has a monster inside her. Or viewed another way, we all have a Tethered self.  

— Everything in the movie has a double:

  1. The Vision Quest fun house is later Merlin’s Quest fun house.
  2. The twins are literally doubles of each other and even speak the same. (“Jinx!  Double jinx! Triple jinx!”)
  3. The bleeding man on the beach is the double/Tethered of the sign man.  (This is confirmed by one of the last shots of the film when we see him holding the Jeremiah 11:11 sign in flashback.)  
  4. The families are doubles of each other.  One black family, one white family, each with two kids.  

— One of the coolest bits of foreshadowing is an overhead shot of the family walking across the beach with their shadows walking beside them.

— The words above both versions of the funhouse door (“Find yourself”) are both foreshadowing and a subtle joke.

— On a second viewing, the rabbits in the cages are even more unsettling because now you know the context.

— When the family first get to the beach house and have dinner, Adelaide is very quiet.  She’s reliving her memory of what happened after the fun house incident at Santa Cruz beach.  Her parents are talking to a therapist about why Adelaide hasn’t spoken since getting lost at the boardwalk.  “I just want my little girl back,” the mother says. Hmmm. That’s the first clue that this isn’t her little girl.  

— Adelaide tries to talk Gabe out of going to the beach.  He guilts her into going. She finally reaches a compromise:  “We leave by dark.” (Um, “Because I don’t want the self whose place I took to try to take it back!”)  

— As they drive to the beach, they see paramedics putting a patient into an ambulance.  It’s the sign guy (Jeremiah 11:11). This creeps Adelaide out.

— Jason, the son, is making a tunnel out of sand on the beach.

— The frisbee lands on a dot on the beach towel, perfectly covering it up, a visual symbol/metaphor for humans and the Tethered selves that live in the darkness beneath them.  

–Jason sees a man on the beach who has blood dripping from his fingers.  This is the Tethered of the sign guy and presumably the reason for the sign guy’s injuries.  He’s also the only Tethered whose face we get a close up of later when everyone is joining hands.  He has a sort of maniacal smile. I believe he’s meant to be a Christ figure. Jeremiah 11:11 (NIV) says, “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’”  When the Tethered sign man is bleeding on the beach, that is him crucified. When he is holding hands with others in the morning light with a rapturous look on his face as humanity is destroyed, that is his resurrection. And he is definitely forsaking mankind, reveling in its destruction.  As GameSpot pointed out, he is also the first link in the chain, standing in wait to join hands with the rest of the Tethered.

— Adelaide doesn’t just freak out because Jason is missing.  She freaks out because she thinks he went in Merlin’s Forest.  She knows that it’s the gateway to the Tethereds’ world.

The 11:11 on the clock at bedtime disturbs Adelaide because it reminds her of the sign guy and his fate.

— When Adelaide says, “I don’t feel like myself,” Gabe says, “I think you look like yourself.”  This line takes on new meaning on a second watch. Because technically she’s not herself.

— When the Tethered family appears in the driveway, Adelaide calls 911 immediately.  Not out of irrational fear, but because she knows what they are: their Tethered selves.  (There’s a separate theory that Adelaide has repressed the memory of dragging Red/the real Adelaide to the underworld until the end of the movie when it starts to come back to her.  And she really only has the memory of seeing a second self in the mirror as a child. I don’t subscribe to that theory.)

— I swear on my second viewing I heard Red say “the girl hated the shadow so much for so long until she realized she was being tested by God.”  But I seem to be the only one. Call it the Mandela effect.

–When Red tells Adelaide to tether herself to the table, it’s revenge for Adelaide leaving Red chained to the bed as a child.

— I love the small moments of the Tethered enjoying what they’ve been deprived of.  Abraham trying on Gabe’s glasses. Elisabeth Moss’s Dahlia playing with lipstick and trying out different facial expressions in the mirror.  

— Umbrae who was born laughing also dies laughing.

— Adelaide follows Red and Jason into Merlin’s Forest.  She seems to know the path a little too well and to not be surprised by anything she encounters.  

— Red’s creepy, hoarse voice is most likely due to her throat being injured from Adelaide choking her so hard when they were children.  

— I’m still confused as to the significance of the ballet recital other than it just looking cool as hell and poetic.  I also don’t understand why the dance is what convinced the Tethered to make Red their leader rather than her rare ability to speak.  

— Adelaide has a sinister grin on her face after she kills Red.  The type of remorselessness we don’t usually associate with our heroes.

— In the ambulance, when Jason looks at his mother, he pulls his mask down.  They are both wearing masks now.

I walked into my second viewing wanting to answer one question:  Does Jordan Peele play fair?

Initially, I wanted to see if Red’s final monologue made sense once one knew the twist.  “We were born special. God brought us together that that night. I never stopped thinking about you, how you could have taken me with you.”

That part still makes sense after the twist. Adelaide could have grabbed Red (the real Adelaide) and walked out of the fun-house with her instead of chaining her to the bed.  Presumably. “If it weren’t for you, I never would have danced at all.” This is literally true as it is Adelaide that starts taking dance lessons as part of her parents’ attempt to get her to talk by encouraging her creativity.  When Adelaide dances, Red has to dance. In a deeper sense, like Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” Red may not have done much with her surface life if she’d never entered the fun-house. But instead she’s started a revolution that is going to change the world.  Something that would never have happened if Adelaide hadn’t switched places with her.

But does Peele play fair with the rest of the film?  

Can one reasonably guess at the twist ending from the clues provided?  I believe so. I’ve mentioned several clues in this post that all point to the twist.  Red’s voice, the mother’s line about wanting her little girl back, Adelaide’s extreme reluctance to return to the beach, her overprotectiveness of Jason at the beach, her immediately calling 911, and Adelaide knowing the entrance to the tunnel system a little too well.  I’ve read one reviewer who made the assumption that the girls switched places from the edit the first time he saw the movie. Just like I assumed in The Sixth Sense (SPOILER) Bruce Willis had died from getting shot in the first scene. But soon abandoned that thought as the movie went on.

I definitely recommend seeing Us more than once.  

It has earned a place among my favorite horror movie endings of all time.   If you really want to jump down the rabbit hole, you can spend hours reading about fan theories, Easter eggs, and symbolism in Us online.  

And if you’re a horror fan, be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for Pet Semetary, and upcoming films like The Curse of La Llorona, the Child’s Play remake, and Annabelle Comes Home.  You can also find reviews for lots of great horror movies on our blog. Follow us on [email protected] for the latest movie news.

Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies

Movie Review – Get Out – Jordan Peele Hits A Home Run

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