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The Lion King (Live Action)

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In response to the complaints that it's absurd to call this film a live-action remake, fear not! There is an alternative term, endorsed by Brad Bird:

 

 

@MechE Requesting a thread title change, please!

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https://www.indiewire.com/2019/07/the-lion-king-review-2019-1202157153/

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The film is almost a scene-for-scene remake of the 1994 original, which means that it opens with its best and most awe-inspiring sequence. “The Circle of Life” is still an absolute banger, and the spectacle of it all hints at what Favreau was hoping to accomplish. This is a movie that works best in wide shots, when you can almost pretend it’s real.

 

And then the animals start to talk. At first, it looks as if the lions are telepathic, and then they seem so badly dubbed that you wish they had been. The more adorable characters are easier to believe, as their cuteness allows for an extra dash of anthropomorphized fun, but the vocal performances aren’t equipped to carry the emotional weight that the hand-drawn animation once expressed on its own.

 

 

https://www.polygon.com/2019/7/11/20690363/the-lion-king-2019-review

 

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But unlike with this year’s Dumbo, which pushed past the plot markers of the 1941 movie, or Aladdin, which saw an opportunity for the underserved Jasmine, the team behind The Lion King saw no room for improvement other than a hyper-realistic overhaul.

 

That photorealism never makes a case for itself. The majesty of Planet Earth is how cameras capture the instinctual, unaware behavior of animals. The Lion King can’t tap that energy while delivering a shot-for-shot remake of a movie in which lions dance on top of elephants. The “realism” neither brings the source material closer to any African culture or ecology, nor nuances the characters’ expressions. From the very first shot, the movie is caught in a limbo between raw nature footage and the imaginative power of cartooning. Turns out, two lions’ flirtatious “play-fighting” is super terrifying when rendered as two real lions baring their teeth and growling.

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There are glimmers of beauty and awe in the new Lion King. A blood-orange sun rising above the horizon to the sound of Lebo M’s ringing vocals. A god’s-eye view of a sun-baked Simba succumbing to the arid nothingness. A close-up of Rafiki cracking open a fruit to announce, “He’s alive!” They’re all moments first storyboarded in the early ’90s, when a team of artists was asked to bring an original, animated work of art to life. 

 

 

This comparison video shows how dull the musical staging is compared to the original. Their running reminds me of slot cars weaving across each other on a Scalextric track:

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Nick R said:

 

This comparison video shows how dull the musical staging is compared to the original. Their running reminds me of slot cars weaving across each other on a Scalextrix track:

 

 

 

Man, that new version looks dull.

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As suggested above the Circle of Life which imo was always the best number in the film is going to be absolutely magnificent.  

 

One of the advantages of Unlimited membership is if it nonesdives afterwards, then I can just leave the rest behind.

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@Nick R Have you purposefully gone looking for any review that contains a bit of negativity just so you could pull out the paragraphs to quote here?

 

I’ve read a few reviews now and while some of them have been a bit mixed, especially over some of the voice acting, the majority are saying it’s really good. The animation is great and the extended scenes really work.

 

Are you trying to convince yourself, and people here, that it’s not very good?

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@JPL I didn't seek out the negative reviews, it just happened that those were the first two I came across.

 

I chose to quote those bits partly because David Ehrlich's review is one of the more entertaining negative reviews I've read in a while, and also because they confirmed the concerns I'd had from the trailer: that photorealistic animal characters may be spectacular; but compared to cartoony, stylised ones they're not good at showing off distinctive designs (it takes the eyes a moment to recognise whether we're looking at Scar or Mufasa) or convincing dialogue synchronisation.

 

I didn't see Favreau's version of The Jungle Book until it was shown on TV last Christmas. I thought it was alright, and pretty spectacular even on the poor TV I saw it on, but I didn't like the fact that it seemed to only feature two songs in the film out of a grudging sense of obligation. (e.g. relegating Scarlett Johansson's version of Trust In Me to the end credits, when it would have been fine in the film itself.) The boring choreography in the Lion King clip above - and the comment in the Polygon review that Be Prepared is done as a "rhythmic dialogue reading" instead of a melodic song (they link to it on Spotify but I haven't listened to it) - suggests that this film isn't really embracing its musical nature either.

 

But then again, I could be wrong; maybe the film's new Elton John/Beyoncé songs help make the film more of an outright musical than The Jungle Book was? And although I haven't seen the Aladdin remake, people seemed to like it a lot more than was suggested by that sluggish clip of the film's version of Prince Ali that was released online.

 

For balance here are some quotes from Variety's more positive review:

 

https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/the-lion-king-review-1203264678/

 

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Favreau’s most important responsibility in overseeing the remake was simply not to mess it up. Which he doesn’t. Then again, nor does he bring the kind of visionary take to the material that Julie Taymor added when staging the Broadway version. That makes Favreau’s “The Lion King” an undeniably impressive but incredibly safe entry to the catalog — one whose greatest accomplishment may not be technical (which is not to diminish the work required to make talking animals look believable) but in perfecting the performances.

 

[...]

 

Midway through Timon and Pumbaa’s jungle anthem, “Hakuna Matata,” Simba’s voice changes — as actor-singer-comedian Donald Glover takes over for JD McCrary — and it’s then that something remarkable happens: The character assumes a dimension that was missing from Broderick’s performance, and the detail that never quite rang true in the original (that Simba thought he was responsible for Mufasa’s death) becomes part of a bigger and more plausible self-confidence problem. As Simba’s bride-to-be, pop goddess Beyoncé Knowles-Carter lends still more depth, conveying aspects of bravery and independence in Nala’s personality that weren’t there before.

 

[...]

 

Overall, the songs pose a unique challenge to Favreau’s approach, since he’s striving for realism — or at least the illusion that we’re watching flesh-and-blood animals — whereas the original belongs to that period of Disney animation when the stories often halted to make room for Broadway-style show tunes. Rather than replicating the Busby Berkeley-style choreography of “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” the director does a fantastic job of reimagining this sequence, tipping his hat to certain memorable shots without anthropomorphizing the animals too much.

 

 

Edit:

The Lion King is probably my favourite of the Disney Renaissance films (though IMO there's not much of a gap in quality between Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King), but there's always room for improvement. My impression so far is that the things that the film tries to do differently (its approach to the musical elements) don't seem like worthwhile changes. However, the middle paragraph there hints at resolving a thing that I always found off about the film, even as a kid: we spend so little time with adult Simba compared to cub Simba before he heads back to Pride Rock, that he almost seems a different character, and the film seems unbalanced.

 

Maybe it'll also finally explain exactly what Scar's reign does to turn the Pride Lands into a wasteland...? ;)

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That clip of Hakuna Matata above reminds me of the way they'd stage the expository dialogue scenes in the Star Wars prequels - two characters walking along, with the camera at a three quarter angle. Fuck knows why you'd choreograph a musical number in that style.

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4 hours ago, K said:

That clip of Hakuna Matata above reminds me of the way they'd stage the expository dialogue scenes in the Star Wars prequels - two characters walking along, with the camera at a three quarter angle. Fuck knows why you'd choreograph a musical number in that style.

 

Laziness?

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16 hours ago, K said:

That clip of Hakuna Matata above reminds me of the way they'd stage the expository dialogue scenes in the Star Wars prequels - two characters walking along, with the camera at a three quarter angle. Fuck knows why you'd choreograph a musical number in that style.

 

Not sure if this was the why, but this film was not made in a traditional way. Favreau entered the scenes in a VR headset and acted as the camera. Editing on the fly. Then rendering. 

 

It's an interesting experiment but I don't think it's been particularly successful

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Compare and contrast the complete lack of energy or excitement in the Hakuna Matata clip to this sequence from another recent musical, which also acts as a bridge between the child and adult versions of the protagonist, both featuring songs by the same bloke.

 

 

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This was shit.

 

Awful staging and cinematography. Every shot from the original - but restaged with a poor cameraman.

 

Baffling

 

Quite a few voices don't work well either.

 

 

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You know what, sod the critics I thought this was fantastic. You lose a fair bit of emotion in some of the Lions faces in certain key scenes, but the whole thing makes up for it in sheer spectacle. It’s an Avatar level jump up in Visual Effects which just makes the whole thing feel so BIG throughout. The first third suffers the most in terms of it occasionally looking a bit beige, but I thought from grown up Simba on it was great! And I really liked what Chiwitel did with Scar. Much more menacing, Irons is brilliant but his campness wouldn’t have worked with the visuals here. 

 

It’s an easy one to be snooty about, and it probably isn’t quite as good as the original, but if you can go and see it on as big a screen as possible I thought it was really brilliant. 

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On 13/07/2019 at 12:57, kerraig UK said:

 

Not sure if this was the why, but this film was not made in a traditional way. Favreau entered the scenes in a VR headset and acted as the camera. Editing on the fly. Then rendering. 

 

It's an interesting experiment but I don't think it's been particularly successful

 

That makes sense, because it just looks like someone moving a freecam around a videogame cutscene, but the boring camera movement doesn't really explain why its staged so boringly. The characters don't do anything that looks like it belongs in a musical. Why would you even envisage the scene in that way? It's a musical number, surely they could have come up with something a bit more dynamic than the characters walking along in a straight line and occasionally switching sides? I guess the whole photorealistic thing means that you can't have them diving through flowers and striking poses in the same way as they do in the original cartoon.

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10 minutes ago, K said:

 

That makes sense, because it just looks like someone moving a freecam around a videogame cutscene, but the boring camera movement doesn't really explain why its staged so boringly. The characters don't do anything that looks like it belongs in a musical. Why would you even envisage the scene in that way? It's a musical number, surely they could have come up with something a bit more dynamic than the characters walking along in a straight line and occasionally switching sides? I guess the whole photorealistic thing means that you can't have them diving through flowers and striking poses in the same way as they do in the original cartoon.

 

As musical choreography goes, it's pretty much the worst I've ever seen.

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My old company employed a Foley artist for a few months. He was never available when you needed any Foley done and you could never find any cutlery or glasses in the kitchen for the 6 months he worked there.

 

Fuck Foley artists. 

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5 hours ago, K said:

 

That makes sense, because it just looks like someone moving a freecam around a videogame cutscene, but the boring camera movement doesn't really explain why its staged so boringly. The characters don't do anything that looks like it belongs in a musical. Why would you even envisage the scene in that way? It's a musical number, surely they could have come up with something a bit more dynamic than the characters walking along in a straight line and occasionally switching sides? I guess the whole photorealistic thing means that you can't have them diving through flowers and striking poses in the same way as they do in the original cartoon.

 

Favreau obviously has bad knees due to years of obesity because every clip I've seen the camera is about 5'10" off the ground despite the animals being 3' tall. 

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On 13/07/2019 at 12:57, kerraig UK said:

 

Not sure if this was the why, but this film was not made in a traditional way. Favreau entered the scenes in a VR headset and acted as the camera. Editing on the fly. Then rendering. 

 

It's an interesting experiment but I don't think it's been particularly successful

 

Confused himself with Tony Stark.

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