Movie review: The Lion King has stunning visuals but lacks soul
The original 1994 The Lion King was a groundbreaking spectacle, mixing hand-drawn visuals with 3D animation. The box-office hit also won Oscars for its stirring songs by Elton John and Tim Rice.
Jon Favreau's version also breaks new ground. Calling it a visual spectacle is an understatement. The same rousing songs get a new arrangement and singers.
But that is about it. Nothing new is added to the story.
Some scenes are reproduced from the original frame for frame, such as the opening Circle Of Life sequence where newborn Simba is presented to the animals in the savannah. The wildebeest stampede scene that led to Mufasa's death was also a copy of the original.
The main attraction in this Lion King is the uncanny photo-realism of the animals. You will be blown away by the amazingly rendered wildlife. The landscape is picturesque.
The climactic battle between Simba and Scar is truly magnificent. It feels like you are watching a documentary on BBC Earth.
But that is where the biggest fault lies too.
Because of the realism of the animals, there is no way you can animate the lions' faces or imbue them with expression.
When you have the irreplaceable James Earl Jones, again voicing Mufasa, delivering so much emotion as the sagely king, you expect to see something in his face.
Making matters worse is that the voices are often times out-of-sync with the animals' mouths.
Fortunately, the actors inject much life and humour, particularly Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Pumbaa and Timon.
Donald Glover and Beyonce are serviceable as Simba and Nala. As both are singers, their take on Can You Feel The Love Tonight is a winner.
Chiwetel Ejiofor does not deliver the level of sarcasm and menace you would expect from Scar, making you wish Favreau had brought Jeremy Irons back to voice the conniving predator.
Despite the paint-by-numbers story, Favreau and his team of CGI wizards deserve much praise for giving us this musical safari. - 3.5 Ticks
FILM: The Lion King
STARRING: Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, James Earl Jones
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
THE SKINNY: Simba (Glover) is heir to Pride Lands, the African savannah where animals live in harmony. But resentful Uncle Scar (Ejiofor) wants the throne, thus he schemes to get rid of the current king, Mufasa (Jones), and Simba at the same time.
Movie reviews: The Dead Don't Die, Tolkien
THE DEAD DON'T DIE (M18)
Everyone wants to be part of a Jim Jarmusch ensemble.
And this atypical zombie comedy has Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez and many more.
Being a big name does not mean you will not die - not that these actors care.
It feels like they show up for work, do what they need and/or feel like doing and have fun.
Here, a trio of cops (Murray, Driver and Sevigny) attempt to put a stop to the reanimation of their rural town's dead due to "polar fracking", which tilted the Earth's axis.
Swinton plays the resident eccentric katana-wielding mortician.
The undead here are also not that hungry for humans. Instead, they gravitate towards what they were hungry for before they died, such as coffee, Wi-Fi, YouTube, chardonnay and fashion.
I guess this is Jarmusch telling us we are all zombies to consumerism.
Message aside, The Dead Don't Die is one strange, self- indulgent yet somewhat entertaining film. And look out for a bizarre exchange between Driver and Murray that only the indie director can pull off. - JOANNE SOH - 3 Ticks
This biographical drama revolves around The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit author J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult), weaving in his youth with his time in the trenches of World War I.
As a biopic, it fails to provide a fully realised picture of the man.
Indicating that he gained direct inspiration for his future creations at no man's land seemed lazy and does a disservice to Tolkien.
It also omits the Catholic influences on his writing, reducing his influences to myths and legends.
There are strong performances from Hoult and Lily Collins (as his wife Edith).
The photogenic pair make a convincing couple - especially in the scene where they flirt over the meaning of the words "cellar door".
Tolkien's friends do not get the same attention though, which is unfortunate, given they play a big part in his formative years
The audience is then expected to care when some fall victim to the war. - JOHN TAN - 2.5 Ticks
Child's Play (M18)
This contemporary re-imagining of the 1988 horror classic follows a single mother (Aubrey Plaza) who gifts her son (Gabriel Bateman) a Buddi doll, unaware of its more sinister nature.
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
When a massive hurricane hits her Florida hometown, a woman (Kaya Scodelario) ignores evacuation orders to search for her missing father (Barry Pepper). Both become trapped in the crawl space of their family home.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
The Professor And The Madman (PG13)
A professor (Mel Gibson) begins compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-19th century and receives more than 10,000 entries from an asylum patient (Sean Penn).
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG)
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) decides to join his best friends on a European school trip, but his holiday plans are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Escape Plan: The Extractors (NC16)
In this sequel, security expert Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his crew find themselves breaking into a new high-security prison in an effort to find the missing daughter of a Hong Kong tech executive.
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
A symbiotic relationship forms between two South Korean families - one rich and one poor - but this new ecosystem is fragile, and soon, greed and class prejudice threaten to upend their comfort.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%