Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 21, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton
Week of October 21, 2019
The Lion King
Rated PG for sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Disney continues its trend here of recreating its most beloved animated movies into live-action extravaganzas with this creative vision from director John Favreau (The Jungle Book, Iron Man).  Unlike some of Disney’s recent releases such as Dumbo and Aladdin, most of the original here has been left alone in regard to story and song, with just a freshening up by the amazingly talented voice cast including Beyonce Knowles, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Seth Rogen, with the iconic James Earl Jones returning as the voice of Mufasa.  Personally I can’t understand why the critics panned this one so harshly as I found myself to be thoroughly entertained.  I would have liked the film to have been more closely in tune with the stage production as the added songs there are a fantastic enhancement of the original material, but I’m perfectly happy with this version.  It will never replace the original, but it is a beautifully made facsimile of it.  B+  
Rated R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This Hollywood retread stars the amazingly funny Kumail Nanjiani as a struggling Uber driver who happens to pick up a cop (Dave Bautista) who drags him along on a violent and dangerous mission.  While there is some good comedy, the suspension of disbelief is really taxing here and the material seems like a step down for Nanjiani, who I would expect to see in much higher-end projects, instead of low-brow and brainless action comedy like this which we’ve seen more times than we are comfortable with.  He tries desperately hard to elevate the film, but ultimately this is just a tired old idea with some new clothes that don’t fit well.  C-
The Art of Self-Defense
Rated R for violence, sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This ultra-quirky project stars Jesse Eisenberg as a helpless man whose weakness leaves him the victim of a major crime when a motorcycle gang senselessly beats him within an inch of his life.  In an effort to gain confidence and be able to protect himself from future violent occurrences, he begins to take karate lessons from a peculiar little studio with a group of eclectic students and strange rules.  If you enjoy films by such writers as Yorgos Lanthimos and Charlie Kaufmann, this one is right up your alley.  The world our characters live in looks familiar at first, but you quickly come to the realization that they are in a completely foreign universe as situations escalate.  In this case, I really enjoyed the creativity and nuance on display, and while the film’s dark turn is disturbing and weird, I found it interesting to say the least.  I do wonder if there is deeper meaning to the film as I merely took it at surface level, so there might be future viewings involved should I get in the mood.  B