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

 

 

Top Five Movies about the Civil War

Cold Mountain Civil War Movie
This is exactly no one’s idea of fun. But the Civil War made for some great films.

What makes a great American Civil War movie? The battles, the politics, the inhumanity of slavery, brother against brother, the great generals of both sides, the personal sides of war, families being torn apart, or all of the above?

The movies I’ve listed contain all or most of the issues listed above, and are in no particular order. Enjoy, for an excellent Civil War oriented binge watch (or re-watch) over your favorite American holidays.

Cold Mountain: (2003)
IMDb score: 7.2
Winner of 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 101 nominations
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, and Natalie Portman.

Cold Mountain contains no extended battle scenes, but relies heavily on emotions and personal conflict.

Lincoln: (2012)
IMDb score: 7.4
Winner of two Oscars. Another 108 wins & 245 nominations.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones.

Lincoln leans heavily on the politics of the war, especially in the decision to emancipate the slaves. Here’s our review of this A+ film.

Gettysburg: (1993)
IMDb score: 7.7
Jeff Daniels was nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times said of Gettysburg“This is a film that Civil War buffs will find indispensable, even if others might find it interminable.” I’ve seen the movie several times, and have personally walked the battlefields of Gettysburg, from Little Round Top to Pickett’s Charge. So I can enthusiastically recommend Gettysburgnot only for it’s historical accuracy but for also bringing the soldiers from both sides to life in a spectacular way.

Glory: (1989)
IMDb score: 7.9
Winner of three Oscars, Glory was Densel Washington’s first Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Also, Glory received 14 other wins & another 18 nominations.

This was the first major motion picture to tell the story of black U.S. soldiers fighting for their freedom from slavery during the Civil War. Everything about this movie was done on a grand scale, including hiring Shelby Foote as a technical adviser.

Foote later became well known for his contributions to Ken Burns’ The Civil War, a nine episode documentary in 1990, which I highly, highly recommend.

 

The Conspirator: (2010)
IMDb score: 6.9
Directed by Robert Redford

The Conspirator is the story of Mary Surratt, the only female conspirator charged in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first woman to be executed by the U.S. Federal Government. This alone is enough to make the list, but also for the uniqueness of the crime. Great movie.

Movie Review – Lincoln – An A+ Presidential Biography

Movie Review – They Shall Not Grow Old

Movie Review – A Private War

 

 

 

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

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Movie Review - The Lion KingIf you’re not a Lion King fan, then I think you’ll find the 2019  live action (CGI, really) version more enjoyable than the animated one, based on more humor and the outstanding cinematography.

For my part, I feel a little numb because I effectively watched the movie three times today working on the Peetimes. And, until two nights ago, I hadn’t seen the animated Lion King since it first came out in the 90s.

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

The script has been revised slightly to make it more contemporary and add a little more humor. And the voice cast is top-shelf.

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

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

Grade: B

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

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

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

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Character voices for Lion King

Lion King: Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

 

Actor Voices for Every Lion King Character (2019)

Here’s a photographic list of the main characters and the actors’ voices behind them in the 2019 CGI (AKA ‘Live Action’) remake of The Lion King.

Lion King: Simba (young)

Simba (young)

Lion King Simba young JD McCrary

JD McCrary

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

Simba (grown)

Lion King Simba grown Donald Glover

Donald Glover

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

Nala

Lion King Nala Beyonce

Beyoncé

Singer and stuff. 🙂
Lion King: Mufasa

Mufasa

Lion King Mufasa voice James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

No one’s voice exudes power and majesty the same as James Earl Jones’, which is why he’s the only voice actor holdover from the original Lion King. He is Mufasa, and also, in case you didn’t know, the voice of Darth Vader. Among other roles. JEJ just commands respect.
Lion King: Scar

Scar

Lion King Scar voice Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Ejiofor is the Oscar nominated best actor for 12 Years a Slave. For Marvel fans, he’s known as Mordo, Dr. Strange‘s closest sorcerer mentors. Watch this YouTube video here to learn more about him, and especially how to pronounce his name. 🙂

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

Lion King: Timon

Timon

Lion King Timon Billy Eichner

Billy Eichner

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

Pumbaa

Lion King Pumbaa Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen

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

Rafiki

Lion King Rafiki John Kani

John Kani

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

Zazu

Lion King Zazu voice John Oliver

John Oliver

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

Sarafina

Lion King hyena Shenzi Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba

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

Kamari

Lion King hyena Kamari Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key

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

Azizi

Lion King hyena Azizi Eric André

Eric André

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

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Lion King – Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

the lion king animated movie - simba on rock
King of all “the sun touches.” Not bad, eh?

This week the rebooted version of The Lion King arrives in theaters. But before that happens, I want to say a few things. To start with, the original 1994 Lion King is one of the best Disney movies EVER. For me, it’s right after The Little Mermaid, and that’s saying a lot.

The Lion King came out during the Disney Renaissance, rescuing Disney from the doldrums of mediocre films they were plagued with post-Golden Age. To have this movie as a remake now, as a “live action” reboot (it’s all CGI, folks), is a BIG BIG deal. The live action versions of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Dumbo don’t even come close. The Lion King is da biggie.

So I did a rewatch last night of the animated classic. And guess what? It not only held up over the years, but surpassed my memories. The Lion King is simply spectacular, in every way. It’s filmatically beautiful, has a great plot, cool characters, good musical interludes, and some truly enjoyable humor.

And Hakana Matata? Well, if I could live a life of “No worries”, I’d be a happy human.

So, the film. If you watch the gorgeous opening scene, I challenge you to not cry for joy. “The Circle Of Life” is one of the best movie introductions ever set to film. I can’t think of anything else that comes close. (Let me know if you can in the comment section below.)

I have a really, really long list of cool thoughts and notes I took during my rewatch, but Comic Con in San Diego starts tonight, and I have to get ready to become a Jedi Knight. So what I’ll do is make a simple bullet-point listing and add my handwritten notes to this article as the week goes on.

I’ll also be Live-Tweeting Comic Con. And now I must be going. I think you’ll like my Lion King notes, once I add them. There’s a lot to discuss.

In the meantime, enjoy the original 1994 Lion King trailer:

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

lion king characters
Lion King Crew. You can probably name every character here.

As you may know there, is a controversy that surrounds The Lion King. The fact that it possibly stole its entire movie from one called Kimba the White Lion is one ting…but we’re not talking about that here. We are going to be talking about how the Lion King is basically Hamlet with lions.

And yes, I mean the Shakespeare Hamlet too, and not some play or movie about a baby pig. So if you don’t know Hamlet like you should, here’s a brief reminder:

The king has a brother and that brother kills the king. The king prior to death had a son. The son now has to kill his uncle and reclaim the throne. 

There’s the very short and sweet reminder of Hamlet. (Sparknotes should take notes on how it’s done.) Either way, today I’m going to be comparing the Lion King (which is loosely based on Hamlet) to Hamlet (1996), which is essentially a word for word re-imagining. Obviously, this battle is pretty even. Let’s compare the two and see how they stack up to each other.

The Villain—

First things first, Scar and Claudius and drastically different characters for the better of each story. Scar, I would say, is a dictator, where as Claudius is a king. Claudius is very methodical and punctual with his words and actions, where as Scar when he gets power runs everything downhill. Scar doesn’t think about the betterment of all his people, but Claudius does. That said, it does mean that it’s more satisfying to see Scar lose in the end, than it is to see Claudius lose.

But if I had to give it up to which movie killed off its villain better, I would go with Hamlet.

Hamlet fighting scene
Hamlet fights for his right to party.

The Love Interest—

We have Nala and Ophelia. Nala is basically a side character that only really serves for one music number, and to push the main character to fulfill their destiny. Weirdly enough, Ophelia has a musical number too. Nala is very basic — interesting and better than most side characters in movies — but still basic. Ophelia starts out as a confused girl who then just snaps to crazy. It’s kind of jarring, but she dies shortly after, so it’s all good.

simba and nala in lion king
Hamlet and The Lion King. One lady is insane. And the other is a princess. Do you recall which is which?

Ghost Dad—

Weird one to put in, but I wanted to mention it. In Hamlet, ghost dad simply acts as like a Macguffin to inform Hamlet about the foul play in his death. But ghost dad in Lion King acts as a guiding light for Simba. When Simba is confused and unsure, ghost dad comes in to guide him in the right direction. Ghost dad in Hamlet just yells at his son to avenge his murder.

Hamlet/Simba—

The main man/lion. I’m going to keep this bareboned. Simba is a scared, confused, yet growing character who realizes what needs to happen, and grows to become the lion he needs to be. Hamlet just kinda goes from mad to slightly insane, then back to mad.

Kenneth Branagh still brings many complex emotions through his acting, but the character as a whole has just about those three emotions, looking back on it.

The Queen—

The queens are completely different characters in these movies. In Hamlet she is a woman who loves her son, marries a murderer willingly, and falls victim to the king’s evil ploys against Hamlet. In Lion King the queen is not really seen ,but from what we do see she is forced into marriage, doesn’t put up with the “king’s” rule, but still loves her son. 

hamlet the movie
You can’t beat a good confetti cannon.

Overall, The Lion King vs Hamlet–

In the end, if I honestly had to say which of these movies is better, that would depend on who you are.

If you’re an absolute film nerd and want to see something beautifully done, you can watch both of these. If you mainly love Shakespeare, then watch Hamlet, since it’s more true to the original tale.

But let’s face it, you’re not just watching 4 hours worth of movie regardless of any high praise I could give it, if you’re a true fan of good films. 

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

My two cents worth as I anticipate The Lion King this week. I’m fascinated to see how Disney can remake a masterpiece. The original movie was amazing, and the stage musical was also, in an entirely different way. When my daughter, Destiny, and I saw the musical in Chicago, we were absolutely blown away by the production and costumes. I didn’t think I could love the movie anymore, but I did even more after the musical experience.

Destiny and I love ALL things Disney, and we are amazed at their attention to detail.  I’ve also taken the leadership course at Disney Institute, and their behind the scenes operational ethics are inspiring. For example, when Disney was making the Lion King musical, they spent months figuring out how to make the stage elephant blink perfectly, timely, and look real, simultaneously.

I especially can’t wait until I see the opening scene of the movie. I literally cry every time I see it, and I cried during the musical as well. They used live animals to enter from the back of the theatre, and walked to the stage (Pride Rock) —  and it was absolutely the most amazing and breathtaking thing I had seen in all my life.

Like many of you, I’ve seen The Lion King, via DVD, more than 25 times, and I know every scene and song. So to say, I’ll be especially sensitive watching the remake to ensure Disney didn’t ruin my ultimate love affair with my DVD replay. This is an understatement. I’m sure Disney is feeling the pressure too, but if I know them at all, this too, will be A+ amazing.

So don’t underestimate the magic of Disney. Walt Disney and the entire staff thrive on his words: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  And on Thursday, July 19, Disney. will. do. it. again! (Exhale)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

 

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

avengers endgame logo with the A
The End(game) of an era.

In an attempt to knock Avatar (2009) off the Biggest Box Office high horse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe opened their vaults and added some extra footage to Avengers: Endgame in a ‘re-release’.

Normally a re-release happens after a movie has been gone awhile, but with MCU fever still running high, Marvel Studios added six minutes of goodies to the end of Endgame before it ever left the theaters.

What follows are spoilers for the extra footage only of Avengers: Endgame, if that wasn’t obvious from the title. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t worry – this article won’t spoil any actual Endgame plot.

The Original Endgame Extras

First off, here’s what extra scenes appeared in the original theatrical release: none. Or, at least, nothing like the full-on bonus scenes we’re used to, the extra bits giving us a laugh or hinting to what’s to come next  in the MCU.

It does make sense to get “nothing”, when you consider how Endgame is the end of the Infinity Saga. (Spider-Man Far From Home is considered an epilogue.)

So, for those who saw Endgame opening week, the only things playing over the credits are:

1. A lovely bit where the Original Six Avengers sign off with their actors’ signatures over a few memorable call-back images.

2. Then nothing until the very end, when we hear an audio-only extra harkening back to the first Iron Man film in 2008. We wrote about that hammering sound here.

And that was it.

3. Until a few weeks later, when the studio added a nice long trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The New Bonus Scenes

In  the July re-release, here are the extra six minutes Endgame got. This starts after the rolling credits end and the ‘hammering’ audio clip concludes:

  1. A loving tribute to Stan Lee. Since Endgame is the last movie to use Lee’s vast array of cameos (remember the long-haired hippy driver in the 70s flashback scene?), it makes a lot of sense to use some behind-the-scenes footage remembering this amazing man, and his contribution to the world of comics. It’s a sweet-natured look at Lee filming some of his best cameos, in a nice little video. Well done, Marvel, well done. RIP Stan Lee.
  2. Second, we have an introduction by Endgame director Anthony Russo, thanking the fans for sticking around. He says: “As you may have noticed, we packed a lot into this movie. There are a lot of characters, a lot of action, a lot of emotion, and I think a lot of fun. But, believe it or not, we shot some scenes that needed to be cut. I know, the movie could have been even longer!”
  3. Next, we get an unfinished bonus scene with the Hulk. We see what he’s been up to since we saw him last: saving people (here from a burning building), right before taking a call from Steve Rogers. Clearly, this is meant to happen right before the “Hulk Lunch Scene.” While the Hulk himself is an animated version inserted into real footage, he’s still got Mark Ruffalo’s face.
  4. The last thing is a fully-finished scene introducing the coming jeopardy in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Nick Fury and Maria Hill show up in Mexico to a town ravaged by a cyclone “with a face”. They meet Mysterio, who tells Fury and Hill, ” You don’t want any part of this,” cuing the next action scene.

One More Extra Goodie

I also got a nifty Avengers: Endgame commemorative poster, just for showing up again. Marvel, I love you 3000.

So, Is This Working to Get Butts Back In Seats?

I’d say, most definitively, yes. I went to the theater Saturday night (July 15th) and the screening room for Avengers: Endgame was PACKED. There were only a couple of empty seats left in the front. And the audience was very much into the spirit of things: laughing at the jokes, gasping in horror at the shocks. Endgame fever is clearly still running high. I’m glad to see it.

Did Endgame Beat Out Avatar?

Will Endgame knock Avatar off the throne? It kind of doesn’t matter. The Infinity Saga has been an incredible ride for 11 years and 23 movies, with even the worst film (The Incredible Hulk) being far from bad. At RunPee, we’ve had to grade each entry on a curve, because they are so consistently good. The only useful grading system is to weigh their merits against each other. If they all get an A, then how can we talk about which are better? (The short answer is to rank them in tiers of bottom, middle, and top, which we also covered here.)

So it’s already won. Knocking Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Titanic out of the running was exciting, and it would neat to be part of a world-wide event ousting Avatar. I don’t see any other movie coming close to this honor — but since we’re talking the cream of the box office crop, they, and we, are all winners.

It’s not over until it’s over, and it seems that Marvel Studios will do #WhateverItTakes. We’ll keep our eyes out for you and give a final report when all is said and done.

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

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

Avatar – plot too simple? Actually, a good idea.

Spider-Man & Iron Man – Lyrics to Back in Black by AC/DC

spider man far from home
Back in Red and (eventually) Black

Starting way back in 2008 with Iron Man‘s use of I Am Iron-Man and, yes, Back in Black, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been shy of using classic rock hits in their superhero movies. While 2019’s Spiderman: Far From Home doesn’t have as many rocking songs as Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s got a winning use of AC/DC’s Back In Black.

Why Back in Black Works So Well

For one thing, Peter Parker makes a hilarious mistake when Happy Hogan gives him some of Stark’s favorite music to work to, shouting he loves “Led Zeppelin!” This makes us oldsters grimace in sympathetic understanding with poor Happy. Remember, Peter thinks Aliens is an “old movie.” (Ouch.)

It also reminds us of Tony Stark’s love of classic rock, in a beautiful bit of unspoken narrative.

Finally, on a meta-level, the song’s title is perfect. This is something the MCU does well — like their cute use of The Kink’s Supersonic Rocketship to stand for Rocket Raccoon’s actual spaceship. For Back In Black specifically, look at the costumes Spider-Man wears in Far From Home. One is entirely black — as “The Night Monkey” — followed by one he makes using Stark’s nano-tech, ditching the garish red-blue look for a spiffier red-black suit.

Here’s the video used for the Back in Black “full Iron Man intro scene”  (which really brings things full circle, as Happy’s little smile shows), followed by the song lyrics:

Something cute if you read the comments on YouTube: the amount of attention this video has from folks looking for Back in Back after seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home. Yes, Iron Man used it first. Ultimately, it’s a great callback to the ‘heir’ of Tony Stark, just as neat as Tony’s killer line at the climax of Avengers: Endgame.

Back in Black Lyrics (Live at River Plate 2009, by AC/DC)

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I’ve been looking at the sky
‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
I got nine lives
Cat’s eyes
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Back in the back
Of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
Yes, I’m in a bang
With a gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
‘Cause I’m back on the track
And I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black

Ho yeah
Oh yeah
Yes I am
Oh yeah, yeah oh yeah
Back in now
Well I’m back, I’m back
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back
Back in black
Yes I’m back in black
Out of the sight

[Songwriters: Angus Young / Brian Johnson / Malcolm Young
Back In Black (Live at River Plate 2009) lyrics © BMG Rights Management]

PS: Some commentators are saying Tony Stark uses a peace sign in every MCU movie in honor of that soldier in the scene linked above…can anyone confirm he does this, ever, and where?

Lyrics and Video to Blitzkrieg Bop from Spider-Man – Homecoming

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

Movie Review – Iron Man – Genius, Philanthropist, etc who started it all