Last weekend, one movie roared at the box office: the reimagining of Disney’s “The Lion King.”
The film made over a half billion dollars in its first 10 days of release. Those numbers are probably making Disney execs happy, but how did the film resonate with viewers? Does it stand up against the original?
Here’s one review from The New York Times’ A.O. Scott:
There are a great many impressive moments in this film, and a few that might elicit a gasp of amazement or an appreciative burst of laughter from even a jaded viewer. For example: When Pumbaa, the flatulent warthog voiced by Seth Rogen, absent-mindedly scratches his left ear with his hind leg, I confess that I nearly wept. Not because the scene was especially touching or sad, but because of the sheer extravagant craft that had clearly gone into rendering those two seconds of reflexive animal behavior. I was nearly as moved by the efforts of a dung beetle to propel a ball of scat across a patch of desert. The digital artisans responsible for these images didn’t necessarily have to do it all with such fanatical care, and the fact that they did is surely worthy of admiration.
So if a movie could be judged solely on technique, “The Lion King” might qualify as a great one. And it kind of wants to be judged that way — for its technical skin rather than its dramatic soul. The opening sequence (it doesn’t seem right to call it a “shot”) fools the eye in subtle and brazen ways. You might think there are real creatures mixed into the computer-generated menagerie (there aren’t), but at the same time the flights of animal choreography lie beyond the skill of any trainer. Then the music starts, and it’s “The Circle of Life” and baby Simba is cute enough to make all the trolls on Twitter go awwwww.
For this meeting of the 1A Movie Club, we review the film, talk about its cultural impact and meet some of the people behind the scenes.
Show produced by Avery Kleinman.
Brooke Obie, Managing editor, Shadow and Act; @brookeobie
JD McCrary, Actor, Young Simba in “The Lion King” (2019); @jdmccrary
Shahadi Wright Joseph, Actress, Young Nala in “The Lion King” (2019); @Shahadi
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