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“The Lion King” 2019: A Vehicle for Billy Eichner

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Disney’s timeless hit The Lion King, and the new live action version is now roaring at cinemas worldwide. With all the remakes of classics that have turned into an ongoing trend, is The Lion King 2019 worth your money, especially when the 1994 original that impressed 5 year-old me the first time I watched it in the theater is still a box office king?

As a massive The Lion King fan who has dedicated my time to devouring the entire trilogy countless times, drawing fanart, writing fanfics and collecting tons of merch, I was one of those viewers who initially doubted this remake but later found it surprisingly fresh, stunning and compelling. Simba and friends are definitely worth revisiting in CGI format thanks to director Jon Favreau and his vision to use technology to create real talking animals with stunning African shots. The key is to treat this new, updated film as an additional version that complements the original, just like the theater production that has become a Broadway sensation it even has international tours.

Plot wise, The Lion King 2019 bears a closer resemblance to Hamlet, the Shakespearan tragedy that inspired the 1994 movie, with Scar’s murderous nature being shown since his very first scene. Such a commanding acting by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He can easily hold his own against the great James Earl Jones, who makes a grand comeback as King Mufasa. The design for Scar also enhances his villainous quality, giving him that dangerous look from the get go.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m super impressed by the new voice cast. To me, these names are as great as the original. Donald Glover makes the perfect Simba, and both his line deliveries and singing voice are pure magic. He has demonstrated his acting prowess with his roles in Atlanta, Solo (my personal favorite) and many other prominent projects, so I’m definitely all for him as Simba. Beyonce as my top favorite character Nala is another inspired casting, and I completely understand why she got picked – she is fierce and daring like Nala is. Alfre Woodard makes a wonderful Sarabi. Very commanding and queenly. I appreciate the extended scenes Sarabi was given. Her interactions with Scar during his reign at Pride Rock provided some backstory elements that we didn’t get to see much in the original version. John Oliver as Zazu is as entertaining as the marvelous Rowan Atkinson.

The biggest surprise of the movie for me and many others on social media is the casting of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as the iconic meerkat and warthog duo Timon and Pumbaa. In my opinion, both are the best Disney duo to have ever existed and my personal favorites. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella will always be irreplaceable, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since, but Billy and Seth have proven that they’re equally fantastic, and together they create compelling comedy. I’ve seen a lot of Billy’s works on TV, but Timon is his best role to date, and I honestly think The Lion King should be a vehicle for him to get even more film roles. The guy is hilarious but also charismatic. He even has Oscar buzz! Plus his singing voice is really stunning he should sing in more movies or even make an album. Note to Disney: can we have both The Lion King 1/2 and Simba’s Pride turned into remakes? We want the entire trilogy. And on top of that, it’s about time we get a new Timon and Pumbaa TV series. More Billy and Seth, please. I love how closer to the actual African animals the CGI characters are in terms of movement and behavior. Timon mostly uses his four legs to walk compared to the original animation, and that is super adorable to see.

All in all, The Lion King is a majestic cinematic treat and captures the regal quality of the original 1994 film. By far Disney’s best live action remake along with Aladdin. Get your tickets now and be transported back to Africa to witness the universe of Pride Rock in an all-new way.

Photo Credits: Walt Disney Studios

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Universe @ The Forum

In celebration of the much-anticipated release of The Last Jedi, a massive Star Wars fest is being set up at The Forum and throughout the ground floor of Jakarta’s Kelapa Gading Mall, where hardcore fans are granted a free entrance to a galaxy far, far away with all the selfie areas, mini exhibits, and merchandises available for their enjoyment. Be a part of the action and get ready to jet off to the Star Wars universe once again! Be sure to catch the film as well. Photographic highlights from the event are displayed below.

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Hey there, BB-8!

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Battlefront II demo corner.

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Welcome to the Star Wars merch shop! 🙂

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Assorted notebooks.

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“Robin Hood” Merch

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Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day! Or year, in this case, for Robin Hood merchandises are finally making rounds in 2017.

Robin Hood is undoubtedly one of Disney’s most underrated films. A fine treasure that not many of today’s generation have watched besides me and a select few. Released in 1973, this classic envisions the tale of Robin Hood and his merry men with an all-star cast of animals as these iconic characters, giving the story a unique, whimsical flair while still capturing the essence of the original plot – stealing from the rich and giving back to the poor – and also the well-known setting of Nottingham, which is greatly animated, including the divine-looking woodland of Sherwood Forest. Robin Hood is a foxy hero, Little John makes a fun yet smart sidekick, Maid Marian is lovely and a kind soul, Prince John is ‘the phony king of England’, and Lady Kluck entertains me. This movie easily makes my Top 5 Disney list, and I’m more than thrilled that its merchandises are starting to be released.

Let’s take a look at all the merry things available!

SOUNDTRACK

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For the first time ever, the official Robin Hood soundtrack has been added to the Disney Legacy soundtrack collection and is now available to get on Amazon, the Disney Music store and other retailers.

The music of Robin Hood adds cinematic nuances to the film, and in a non-Disney fashion, stays true to the folky roots of the legend by keeping every musical number raw and country-ish with a deep storytelling focus. “Love” is one of the best love themes to have ever been penned (and should’ve been as well-known as the usual standards like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), and songs like “Oo-De-Lally” and “Not in Nottingham” have a distinctive country tone that are easy on the ears.

All the film tracks and instrumental scores can be found in the 2-disc soundtrack along with a few charming early demos.

FAIRYTALES & FOLKTALES MERCH

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Stunningly crafted as part of the Disney Designer Collection – the Fairytales & Folktales series – Robin Hood and Maid Marian’s timeless “Love” scene can be revisited in the form of an adorable coffee mug, limited edition figures finely displayed in a glass box, and a journal (sold individually and as part of the Disney Designer Collection journal set). There’s literally only one word to associate them with: “Love”!

SOFT TOYS

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The UK Disney Store posted this photo on Instagram. Disney plush collectors would want to own these.

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT

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With a gorgeous little ornament like this one, your holiday season is bound to be merry. And bright!

Spot other fab Robin merch? Share your findings in the comments below and let all of Nottingham (and the entire Disney fandom) know. All together now… “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day”!

Photo Credits: Disney

“The Lion King” 2019 Film Cast

The circle of life will be revamped with an all-new cast for its 2019 cinematic version.

With The Lion King being Disney’s top masterpiece, die-hard fans were opposed to any form of remake, but after the new cast reveal that include quality names like Donald Glover, James Earl Jones (in a reprising role as Mufasa), Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Alfre Woodard and Queen Beyonce Knowles as Nala, it’s safe to say this remake would not only be promising but also strongly recapture Simba’s story, vast African landscape and grand music.

As someone who has seen The Lion King over 80 times as a kid (and still a fan in my 20’s), bought tickets to the Broadway production, learned a bit of Swahili, looked up more of Lebo M’s musical works, and written fan fictions about it, I’m very open to this new interpretation of the Hamlet-based plot. It’d be thrilling to revisit Pride Rock and all its glory and to see the universe expand and reach a new generation. Now if only they’d feature some of the tracks used in the Broadway version like “Morning Report” and “Shadowland”…

#Epic

Studio Ghibli Exhibition @ the Ritz Carlton

Welcome to the wonderful world of Ghibli, inspired by Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki and his collection of artsy animated films! The whimsical magic of Studio Ghibli is now within reach of Jakarta fans in the form of an exhibition at the Ritz Carlton – Pacific Place.

Iconic settings, pieces and characters from classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky are brought to life, ready for Instagram-worthy selfies. The 3D installations may still be in the works, but Ghibliland is looking marvelous at the moment. If you’re a lover of any of Mr. Miyazaki’s works, the Rp.300.000-Rp. 350.000 entrance fee is worth spending. Immerse yourself in the animated, fantastical realms like the ones captured in the following photos and “be a part of the scene”.

A merchandise store will greet you at the exit, boasting a variety of items like mini Totoro plush toys, notebooks, lunchboxes and folders featuring stills from your favorite Studio Ghibli movie. The only downside to these whimsical merch is the price tag. Most are overpriced, which is understandable given they’re original imports from the Ghibli Studio in Japan, but make sure you really love whichever product you decide on getting.

So what’s your favorite Ghibli movie? Sound off below. Mine is Kiki’s Delivery Service, ’cause witches and bakeries brew up a delicious plot. But I will always adore My Neighbor Totoro.

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The bakery from “Kiki’s Delivery Service”.

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Look who greets us at the ticket desk.

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Somehow I’m reminded of the opening scene in “Great Expectations”. PS. You can sit on the boat.

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From the iconic “Spirited Away”.

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Gotta own this folder. I heart bread and croissants.

Everyday They’re Out There Making “DuckTales”! Woo Hoo!

Life is like a hurricane here in Duckburg as the all-new revamped Disney hit show DuckTales premieres its very first episode on Disney XD. Coinciding with the lyrics of the catchy theme song, the series rewrites history by retelling the adventures of Scrooge McDuck (Doctor Who star David Tennant) and company the way Carl Barks has written them in the original graphic novels.

Great family dynamics among Scrooge, the triplets Huey, Louie and Dewey, and Donald, who is rightfully a regular now instead of his usual guest-starring roles in the previous TV version. A badass, quirky and proactive Webby brings a fresh twist to the lovely female companion to the boys, thanks to Garfunkel & Oates‘s Kate Miccucci and her whimsically commanding voice. Plus classic Launchpad is back to crash the airplane as always.

Here are some of my favorite moments and reveals from the 1-hour pilot episode (“Woo Hoo!”), which functions like a standard TV drama:

  • Scrooge riding a dragon Game of Thrones style!
  • The city of Atlantis! It’s definitely fascinating and the perfect way to start the series!
  • Huey, Louie and Dewey’s individual personalities are more distinguishable here. Gotta love adventurous Dewey and him making up his own theme song during the bridge-crossing (PS. It turns out actor Ben Schwartz did an improv on that, and the song got put on the scene).
  • Donald being a responsible, caring uncle to the trio and also the voice of reason on the show. This sweet side of Donald is what I’ve been longing to see, just like in the comics. Adults will find the Scrooge-Donald interactions interesting.
  • Flintheart Glomgold making his first grand appearance. SPOILER alert: Donald ended up working for Glomgold not knowing he’s Scrooge’s sworn enemy ’til Scrooge found out about it.
  • The cliffhanger at the end courtesy of Dewey.

Overall, the first episode of DuckTales 2017 exceeds my expectations and delivers tons of unexpected surprises. Top-notch animation too with the promise of adventure, mystery, action, and lighthearted comedy. Kudos to Frank Angones, Matt Youngberg and their team for bringing it back in a massive way.

DuckTales is definitely not your typical Disney show. There’s a grandness and cinematic quality to it that viewers of all ages can enjoy. It’s like a treasure chest full of endless gold. So if you haven’t already, come and join Uncle Scrooge, Donald, the boys, Webby, Launchpad and Mrs. Beakley on their exciting escapades! Who knows… you might solve a mystery!

 

 

Donald Duck’s Birthday!

Disney ducks always kick butt and go on the most exciting adventures, but my ultimate favorite is the one and only Donald. So it’s only fitting that a special dedication to him is made in honor of his birthday (and years of service in the Navy).

If you’ve been following the Carl Barks comics and TV shows like the original DuckTales and House of Mouse, it’s very clear that Donald is way more than just that quacky guy with an uncontrollable temper. He comes across as genuine and is very much a team player, especially in stories where he, Mickey and Goofy are a trio. It’s also shown in the comics that he’d go out of his way to make his darling Daisy happy while being a cool uncle for the triplets at the same time. And that performance he gave in The Three Musketeers film? Astounding, heartfelt and daring! From the original voice actor Clarence Nash to the current successor Tony Anselmo who Nash personally mentored, Donald’s character continues to evolve and in a positive direction.

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In The Three Musketeers.

Here’s to more Donald in the new DuckTales that’s set to premiere this summer on Disney XD! To celebrate his birthday, the team behind DuckTales presents a brand new short with Donald, Huey, Louie, Dewey, Webby and of course, the great Uncle Scrooge!

Hey, it’s all fun in this duck family, right? Happy Birthday, Don!

Ariana Grande and John Legend’s “Beauty and the Beast” Duet

Beauty and the Beast‘s theme has always been unforgettable, and now this song as old as time gets a modern update for the release of the new 2017 film by Disney. Filling in for Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson are Ariana Grande and John Legend, and this duo really do measure up to the original performers. Their soulful, powerhouse vocals make a fine, magical mix.

Listen to their version here and pre-order the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack now to get an immediate download of the song:

“Beauty and the Beast” 2017 Official Trailer

An intelligent beauty. A cursed prince. A tale as old as time. We’ve been waiting for what seemed like an eternity for new promos related to Disney’s live-action adaptation of its Academy Award-winning film Beauty and the Beast, and now they’re finally out in the open.

Shortly after the debut of its first look image on the latest Entertainment Weekly issue, the 2017 movie’s official trailer premiered yesterday that instantly made the world swoon with adoration. So much enchantment in one video!

With strong production and inspired casting (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Audra MacDonald, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson and Kevin Kline), I could tell Beauty and the Beast will make 2017 a magical, unforgettable year.

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