The Möbius strip- ‘Lion King’ breaks July records, ‘Endgame’ takes all-time crown

Disney’s The Lion King stampeded into theaters this weekend with a $191.8 million debut, even higher than industry expectations. The picture immediately leaps to no. 6 on the 2019 domestic chart and sets opening weekend records for July and for PG-rated movies- Box Office Mojo

In the context of this monstrous debut, a look back on how much of a risk the original Lion King was in 1994- The New York Times

So, is the new Lion King live-action? No. No it is not- The Los Angeles Times

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Realism sucks

Image courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

2/10 They don’t hit that initial “nants ingonyama” hard enough. They don’t hit anything hard enough.

In National Geographic’s The Lion King, Mufasa and Sarabi (James Earl Jones and Alfre Woodard), King and Queen of Pride Rock, give birth to their first cub, Simba (JD McCrary). Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Mufasa’s scheming brother who wants to rule himself, arranges Mufasa’s death and Simba’s exile, leading to the Pride Lands’ ruin. Three years later after a conversation with some clouds, an adult Simba (Donald Glover) returns to reclaim the throne.

The photorealistic Lion King remake takes this story, this musical about anthropomorphized animals which is covered in Shakespearean, Biblical and Arthurian overtones like thick Canadian syrup, and tries to ground it in realistic elements, such as lions not being able to make facial expressions or sing. It tries to do this while also repeating all of the iconic songs and moments of a movie so beloved that almost every individual moment is iconic.

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Stooges sling sillies in solid ‘Stuber’

Images courtesy — oh, god damn it! Images courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

8/10 Stuber is so heavily composed of tropes that it would be barley intelligible outside the context of its genre, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In this case, the movie needles its strict buddy comedy confines while also giving a great cast room to shine.

In Stuber, Los Angeles detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) loses his partner Sarah Morris (Karen Gillan) in the ill-advised attempted arrest of dangerous drug trafficker Oka Teijo (Iko Uwais). Six months later, Manning gets tipped off that Teijo is about to make a major drop, but this comes a few hours after Manning has major eye surgery. Unable to drive himself downtown, he summons an Uber driven by down-on-his luck retail worker Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) and essentially kidnaps him for a last-minute investigation that takes them all across the greater Los Angeles area. Along the way, Manning forces Stu to confront his lack of integrity.

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Low-rent ‘Crawl’ doesn’t live up to spectacular story

Scodelario’s performance also leaves something to be desired, though I’m much more inclined to blame editor Elliot Greenberg based on some of the ways it comes out. Images courtesy Paramount Pictures.

6/10 Despite a ton of talent behind and in front of the camera, Crawl ends up not being worthy of its wonderful story.

As a category five hurricane prepares to march straight up the middle of Florida, University of Florida swim team member Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) drives two hours south, toward the storm, to make sure her estranged father Dave (Barry Pepper) has actually evacuated. She finds him in the crawlspace of her childhood home, passed out from blood loss after being attacked by an alligator that had nested in the drain pipes. As the storm hits and the neighborhood begins to flood, the Kellers must fight their way up the house, which is quickly filling with both water and more alligators, in hope of finding rescue on the roof.

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‘Midsommar’ a top-level work, disturbing in several ways

The strange architecture of Hårga, particularly the bright yellow temple too sacred for most characters to enter, subtly haunts from the background. Images courtesy A24.

9/10 Midsommar is such a strong example of film craft, is so viscerally affecting and executes its ideas with such commitment that it can only be seen as a masterpiece, but that isn’t to say it’s perfect.

Near the summer solstice, anthropology graduate students Christian Hughes (Jack Reynor), Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter) join their Swedish classmate Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) on a trip to his home in Hårga, Sweden, to observe the remote commune’s midsummer festival. At the last minute, Hughes’ girlfriend Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) joins the trip. Hughes has wanted to break up with Ardor for several months but was delayed when her sister killed their parents and herself in the winter, an incident which has left Ardor suffering multiple panic attacks daily. At the festival, the group is plied with a wide variety of psychedelics and then plunged into a Wicker Man/Cannibal Holocaust nightmare that’s all wrapped up in Ardor’s and Hughes’ relationship strife.

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