This week, Disney revisits “The Lion King” with photorealistic results. It easily leads the charge of new Blu-Ray and DVD titles today, especially considering what a thin slate it is. Read on for more.
PICK OF THE WEEK
“The Lion King”
Boasting some incredible visuals, “The Lion King” is a tremendous step forward for visual effects. More impressive than “The Jungle Book” even, director Jon Favreau is showing where blockbuster cinema is going. Beyond all of that, this is just the timeless tale we all fondly remember from childhood. Variety enjoyed its faithfulness to the original:
From the ecstatic Zulu chant that opens the film… to the thundering drum beat that ends it… Jon Favreau’s exhilarating live-action take on “The Lion King” hews closer to the Walt Disney animated masterpiece than any of the studio’s recent remakes.
“The Lion King” sticks close to the animated classic, and that’s a good thing. If you’ve been enjoying the recent trend of remakes Disney has been putting out of this sort, we have their best one yet. Pick it up and enjoy.
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $542,683,628 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet
In honor of this week’s release of “Western Stars,” the pick today is going to be another amazing documentary. It’s “Life Itself,” a look at the late great film critic Roger Ebert. A huge influence on anyone who does this for a living, the movie really found an emotional entryway into his life. Clayton wrote the following in this review right here on the site:
Roger Ebert meant so much to the entire film community and when it was announced that there would be a documentary about his life and struggle after cancer, nearly every cinema lover jumped at the opportunity. Ebert, as well as his wife Chaz, inspired millions with their love, story, and the simplicity of living life with films as the central focus. Life Itself by director Steve James is an intimate and respectful look into the life of a man who too many people didn’t get the chance to know.
Prep for the Bruce Springsteen concert doc with this terrific one on Ebert.
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the sole recommended title in “The Lion King.”
This character study centered on a maid, taking place entirely in a hotel. What could have been redundant instead is contained, yet evocative. In our recently published Film Fest 919 festival review, we had this to say about the flick:
“The Chambermaid” has small scale aspirations. It seeks to tell a simple tale and tell it well.
Patient viewers will be rewarded.
Box Office: $83,277 (and counting)
“David Crosby: Remember My Name”
A documentary about musician David Crosby, this work finds the man being far more candid and reflective than usual. In terms of music docs, this one was a cut above, critically. Rolling Stone, for one, loved it:
The rock & roll icon gets the beautiful, brutally honest looksee he deserves. The result is one of the best rock docs of all time. Expect no apologies from Crosby, the lion in winter. Hear him roar.
Crosby fans are in for a treat!
Box Office: $717,883 (and counting)
Special Criterion Collection Section
“When We Were Kings”
The one and only option coming to Criterion today is this classic documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle. Yes, it’s “When We Were Kings,” a look at the legendary bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Ali especially is captivating here in footage that was shot in 1974 but only saw the light of day when the doc was released in 1996. The Collection has an easy sales pitch to make for this one:
Two decades in the making, When We Were Kings features interviews with Norman Mailer and George Plimpton that illustrate the sensational impact of the fight, rounding out an Academy Award–winning portrait of Ali that captures his charm, grace, and defiance.
Boxing aficionados and documentary lovers in general should definitely pick this one up!
“Charmed: The Complete Second Season”
“NOS4A2: The Complete First Season”
“Veronica Mars (2019): The Complete First Season”