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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

Breakfast Tunes

Mornings are made for breakfast.

Starting this January, I’ve made it a habit to rise out of bed by the time the clock strikes 6 if only for the inviting aroma of bread and butter (it’s more of a personal challenge, actually) and so far, I’ve been successful. But no matter what delicacies you start your AM with – croissants, English breakfast tea, muffins, orange juice, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, grilled tomatoes, beef sausages, et cetera – light, playful tunes are bound to excite you and set you up for the day.

Let music be a savory treat for your ears. So pick a morning soundtrack and eat, listen and be jolly. No time to assemble your track list? Here are whimsical ideas you can steal for a relaxing musical breakfast. Mix them with your own for a personalized morning playlist.

Enjoy!

  • “”Jolly Holiday” – Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (from Mary Poppins)
  • “It’s a Good Day” – Peggy Lee
  • “Good Morning” – Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor (from Singin’ in the Rain)
  • ”Isn’t This a Lovely Day” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • ”Boy in a Rock N Roll Band” – The Pierces
  • “Frim Fram Sauce” – Diana Krall
  • ”Chasing Pirates” – Norah Jones
  • “Lulu’s Pie Song” – Sara Bareilles (from Waitress)
  • “It’s a Wonderful World” – Joan Chamorro, Andrea Motis, Bobby Gordon & Sant Andreu Jazz Band
  • ”Mona Lisa” – Nat King Cole
  • “Another Day of Sun” – La La Land Cast (from La La Land)
  • “What a Difference a Day Makes” – Jamie Cullum
  • “A Wink and a Smile” – Harry Connick Jr. (from Sleepless in Seattle)
  • “Wonderful” – Idina Menzel and Joel Grey (from Wicked)
  • “In a World of My Own” – Kathryn Beaumont (from Alice in Wonderland)
  • “White Winter Hymnal” – Birdy
  • ”City Love” – John Mayer
  • “Goody Goody” – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
  • “My Sugar is So Refined” – Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
  • ”A Spoonful of Sugar” – Julie Andrews (from Mary Poppins)

 

 

 

“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

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.

Three Musketeers
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.

DisneySea’s 15th Anniversary

Set sail and make a wish on the shining sea!

DisneySea (Tokyo, Japan) – the only one to ever exist in the entire universe – is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and a number of exclusive merchandises have been released earlier on to mark this big event.

The dominant image on most of the items sold at the DisneySea stores couldn’t look grander with adventurers Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto sailing on a golden ship with Chip and Dale plus the Duffy bears as company. Everyone’s all dressed up in dashing outfits. Even my all-time favorite Donald has his sporty gloves on, which we don’t really see everywhere else.

After a very short and pleasant wait, my 15th anniversary package has finally arrived courtesy of Instagram Disney shop Disneyland Jakarta. Even though I didn’t get the chance to visit (my first trip to DisneySea was back in 2014), I got to at least grab a hold of the magic in the form of the the stuff I ordered (shoutout to TDR Explorer for all the merch previews):

  • Assorted cookies that come in a gorgeous limited edition tin box
  • 15th anniversary postcard
  • Lovely clear holders featuring characters like Anna, Elsa and Rapunzel
  • Donald & Daisy mug – Donaisy are my newest OTP, by the way

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In light of this Disney-themed post, allow me to present you my little Disney list.

~ Jules’s Disney List ~

  • The first Disney film I saw at the cinema: The Little Mermaid
  • Favorite animated films: Robin Hood, Frozen, Hercules, The Aristocats, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, Mary Poppins, Brave, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Beauty & the Beast, The Princess & the Frog, Oliver & Company, Treasure Planet, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Bambi, Mickey, Donald & Goofy: The Three Musketeers, A Goofy Movie, An Extremely Goofy Movie, Tarzan
  • Favorite live action films: 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • Best sequels in my book: Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride
  • Favorite classic character: Donald (obviously) 😉
  • Favorite film characters: Elsa, Maid Marian, Belle, Merida, Nala, Tiana, Mary Poppins
  • Favorite villain: Cruella de Vil
  • OTPs: Robin Hood/Maid Marian, Scamp/Angel, Donald/Daisy, Anna/Kristoff, Pongo/Perdita
  • Favorite TV shows: DuckTales (excited for the 2017 reboot since they’re making Donald part of the main cast like in the original Carl Barks/Don Rosa stories), Darkwing Duck
  • My Disney playlist:
    – “Why Should I Worry” (Oliver & Company)
    – “Bella Notte” (Lady & the Tramp)
    – “Zero to Hero” & “Go the Distance” (Hercules)
    – “Oo De Lally” & “Love” (Robin Hood)
    – “Cruella de Vil” (101 Dalmatians)
    – “Love is an Open Door” & “Let It Go” (Frozen)
    – “I 2 I” (A Goofy Movie)
    – “Gaston” & “Beauty & the Beast” (Beauty & the Beast)
    – “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” (The Aristocats)
    – “Jolly Holiday”, “A Spoonful of Sugar” & “Chim Chim Cheree” (Mary Poppins)
    – “Second Star to the Right” (Peter Pan)
    – “I Didn’t Know That I Could Feel This Way” (Lady & the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure)
    – “Just Around the River Bend” & “Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas)
    – “Out There”, “God Help the Outcasts” & “Someday” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

You’re also invited to let me know your Disney favorites.

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