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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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95. Into the Wild (#180)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Jack Hodges, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode thrown in.

This time, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild.

Christopher McCandless abandoned a comfortable middle-class life in pursuit of something greater. His search would take him across the United States, impacting the lives of those he met along the way. His search would eventually lead him into the Alaskan wilderness.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 180th best movie of all-time on the Internet Movie Database.

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The X-Files (Topps) #38 – Cam Rahn Bay (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Cam Rahn Bay returns to one of the recurring themes of John Rozum’s run on Topps’ X-Files tie-in comic book.

It is essentially a cautionary tale amount mankind tampering with nature and the unforeseeable repercussions of such meddling. As such, it feels very much in keeping with scripts like Skybuster or Scum of the Earth. This idea of human hubris is a theme that is very much in keeping with The X-Files as a franchise, perhaps most keenly reflected in Chris Carter’s deep affection for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and for environmental causes. Cam Rahn Bay is very much in keeping with that aesthetic.

All at sea...

All at sea…

However, there are problems with the story. Most obviously, Rozum’s prose seems a little clunky and awkward. Cam Rahn Bay is a heavy-handed and clumsy meditation on mankind’s fixation with imposing its will over the natural world. However, there is also something slightly hypocritical about the story. As much as Cam Rahn Bay criticises the use of animals in a military capacity, it never seems to question the use of animals in captivity. While the training of dolphins to do military work is treated as deplorable, training them to do tricks for entertainment is lauded.

Cam Rahn Bay feels a little tonally ill-judged, with this fairly significant blindspot undermining a lot of Mulder’s impassioned rhetoric about how mankind treats the natural world.

"Sorry, I was just thinking abotu Deep Throat..."

“Sorry, I was just thinking abotu Deep Throat…”

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Non-Review Review: The Fox and The Child

Myself and the girlfriend caught The Fox and The Girl (or Le Renard et L’Enfant) on Sky last night. It was a film with more than a few beautiful moments, but left us with the distinct impression that director Luc Jacquet works a lot better with animals than he does with humans.

Half-good, half-bad...

Half-good, half-bad...

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