The Lion King

Maybe you've heard, Disney has a movie out today. Jon Favreau previously directed "The Jungle Book" adaptation. Now he directs an even more realistic remake of "The Lion King." Technology improves even in three years. The film features an all-star voice cast that includes Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner. Rogen and Eichner are the standouts you'd expect as Pumbaa and Timon. Glover and Beyoncé are not worth the money I'm sure they cost. The great James Earl Jones returns from the animated classic as Mufasa because no one could replace him.

The movie is absolutely beautiful, and I enjoyed it. Here's my thing with this rash of Disney live-action remakes, or in this case, look-live: I think they should be made because they need to be made. And in this case, the classic animated "Lion King" was perfect as it was. In fact, the vivid colors probably appeal more to kids. That said, it should take in up to $180 million this weekend, and the bottom line is what it's all about, or they wouldn't be churning these out the way they are.

Walt Disney Studios - Rated PG

The Art of Self-Defense

A darkly comic indie film offers you an option to the big Disney blockbuster. Jesse Eisenberg stars "The Art of Self-Defense." He's an accountant living in a bland world and afraid of everything in it. Targeted by muggers, he decides to take karate classes, and his teacher turns out to be anything but safe.

This is a strong statement on toxic masculinity. Eisenberg plays himself, as usual, but he does have an arc, where he grows more assertive. Alessandro Nivola is excellent as his sadistic teacher. Nice turn by British actress Imogen Poots, too. A major twist threatens to take the whole thing out of the realm of reason, but it earns its yellow belt. 

Bleecker Street - Rated R