I love the Lion King. I love the original Disney animation. I love the musical. And when I saw the trailer for the ‘photorealistic’ computer-generated remake, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. So there was a lot riding on our return to Pride Rock. The film is technically brilliant – a visual masterpiece that dazzles with intricate detail and epic scale. It’s sure to do very well at the box office. But, on the whole, I was left strangely unmoved by the spectacle. The film lacks much of the charm and expressiveness of the ‘hand-drawn’ original. And the re-worked music seemed under-powered, particularly the African chants and rhythms which underscore the story’s very essence. Beyoncé’s breathy rendition of Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel Love Tonight’ was really disappointing. Gifted as she is, the song doesn’t suit Beyoncé’s range and, in my humble view, Elton’s ballads should never be warbled, X Factor-style. But, I guess that’s the modern way and my musical tastes are distinctly old hat.
Following a full-on Christmas with family in London – all fun and no ceremony – the drying out time before the New Year’s festivities was a welcome respite. What better way to recharge the batteries than a Monday matinee at the flicks, taking in an energising blockbuster in the form of the latest Star Wars extravaganza? Generally, I’m not a big fan of your run of the mill, mass appeal, CGI-packed Hollywood juggernaut – all video game and no story. And while I loved the three original Star Wars films, the subsequent prequels were terrible. I feared the latest reboot of the franchise might be too. But the Force was with us and we were richly entertained by a crash, bang, wallop of galactic proportions. With a witty script, some familiar old faces, engaging performances and edge-of-seat special effects, the old fashioned good versus evil epic bursts with menacing Third Reich imagery and triumph over terrible odds. There are some delicious new baddies and a Supreme Leader with more than a passing resemblance to Harry Potter’s Voldemort. Roll on episode VIII.
No doubt, merchandising will break all box office records judging by the window display in our local Disney Store.