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Non-Review Review: The Lion King (2019)

It’s a very strange comparison to make, but the film that most obviously comes to mind when watching Jon Favreau’s The Lion King is Gus Van Sant’s infamous nineties remake of Psycho.

This is Favreau’s second “live action” adaptation of a classic Disney animated film, even if that descriptor is somewhat misleading. It might be more accurate to describe The Lion King (which was shot entirely in virtual reality) as “verisimilitudinous.” It is designed to approximate “live action”, rather than being live action itself. On that note, the film is a technical triumph. On the level of pure craft, The Lion King is a staggering accomplishment. It is a virtual reality film that is in many ways indistinguishable from reality itself. However, the onion has even more layers to it. It is a virtual reality film approximating the reality while meticulously and faithful reproducing a beloved animated film.

Join the cub.

As such, and much like Van Sant’s Psycho, there is an element of reflexive postmodernism to The Lion King. Both the Psycho and Lion King remakes feel more like conceptual art installations than movies in their own right. They are certainly more interesting as abstract objects than as actual stories. After all, the stories in question were so closely wedded to form and context the first time around that the idea of remaking them so literally and so faithfully seems absurd from a creative point of view. As such, the process of replication becomes intriguing of itself. Both Psycho and The Lion King are incredibly faithful copies that consciously lean into their uncanniness.

Favreau’s Lion King looks beautiful, but largely feels like a limit case. It is a certain approach to modern filmmaking taken to – and perhaps pushed beyond – its farthest extreme.

Pride of the Pridelands.

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Non-Review Review: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

I think you could argue that Who Framed Roger Rabbit (which doesn’t have a question mark at the end, because apparently marketing demonstrated audiences don’t respond to question marks) sits at the perfect midpoint on the Zemickis spectrum, balancing the fine and fun storytelling of the Back to the Future series with the early forefathers of the technical wizardry which would so fascinate the director in the years to come. However, Who Framed Roger Rabbit finds a way to match its technical wizardry with a genuinely fun and entertaining story.

Saw VII: Would Bob Hoskins rather saw his own arm off or spend the rest of the movie as the straight guy to Roger's plucky comic relief? Jigsaw, you fiend!

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Zemeckis Plans to Bust a Nut…

Do you remember when Robert Zemeckis used to make accessible films starring actual human beings? Films that were no less magical because filming was constrained by reality rather than computer generated imagery. Well, apparently that Zemeckis is long gone at this stage, as he’s announced that he’s going to be following up A Christmas Carol with The Nutcracker, a similar CGI adaptation.


So many inappropriate jokes, so little time...

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