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The Lion King
Film

The Lion King

Something is off about this defiantly unmagical remake of ‘The Lion King’, a film that is both photorealistic – down to every artfully crafted lens flare and whisker on Simba’s chin – and about the furthest imaginable thing from real. It’ll either mildly disturb you or make you feel like your skin is on backwards. Granted, it’s still ‘The Lion King’, still a sturdy piece of ‘Hamlet’-derived musical theatre, only with 100 percent more Beyoncé, which is never a bad thing. But Disney’s animated movies have always been invitations to dream bigger than nature; even when you go to one of its theme parks, you submit to pretending. This new version is an invader of the real world, its characters like stuffed trophies mounted on the wall. They’re lifelike, yes, but somehow not alive. Almost certainly, kids aren’t going to mind this, even if their imaginations will be a little short-changed. Set in one of Africa’s uncannier valleys, ‘The Lion King’ is still a yarn about talking and singing animals; no amount of digital work is going to change that. And vocal talent is what semi-saves this remake from ‘Jungle Book’ director Jon Favreau’s more computerised instincts. As the regal Mufasa, the sensible leader of the Pride Lands, rumbling James Earl Jones still has Darth Vader sonority on tap. He remembers to give an actual performance, as does Donald Glover, voicing the cub who would be king with increasing surety. But the rest of the cast is flattened into two-dimensional reductions: Joh

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Toy Story 4
Film

Toy Story 4

Turns out, Pixar’s sentient toys can still make us cry: Nearly 25 years after their cinematic debut, the sweetly selfless plastic pals return in a fourth ‘Toy Story’, one charged by the animated series’ thematic essence of finding purpose in being useful to others. It’s a hopeful, immensely human chapter that echoes and extends the franchise’s complex notions of loyalty, displacement and self-worth, doing so with humour and warmth. Working from a script by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom (as well as six other story contributors, including the ousted ex-Pixar chief John Lasseter), director Josh Cooley successfully balances all these elements – a noteworthy achievement considering the large cowboy boots he had to fill after the epic yet nuanced ‘Toy Story 3’, one of Pixar’s more perfect achievements. The reliable company of old friends certainly helps. Now happily living with a new kid, Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw), Tom Hanks’s pull-string pardner Woody, Tim Allen’s devoted Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack’s feisty Jesse and the rest of the gang are back. New to the clan is Forky (Tony Hale of ‘Veep’, adding nervy personality and genuine weirdness), an existentially confused spork with low self-esteem that the ever-imaginative Bonnie creates as a kindergarten craft project. Convinced of his status as trash (an unusually raw class dilemma for a Pixar movie), Forky get a crash course on his toyness from Woody, himself thrown by a life crisis resembling that of a retiree. B

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Aladdin
Film

Aladdin

Twenty-seven years on from the release of the animated classic, Aladdin gets the live-action treatment, with ‘Sherlock Holmes’ director Guy Ritchie at the helm. The well-known plot is the stuff of Disney magic: a rags-to-riches tale in which a common thief wins the heart of a princess with the help of a magic lamp that transforms him into a prince. If ‘Aladdin’ is not quite a scene-for-scene remake, it gets pretty close. The plot is tweaked with some sensible improvements. Agrabah, a mythical Silk Road city, is described in the original opening song as ‘barbaric’. It’s now simply chaotic, with a bustling population of people from as far as northern Europe (look out for Billy Magnussen’s hilarious Prince Anders) to China, and everywhere in between. It’s clear this version of Aladdin celebrates the cultures from which the ‘Arabian Nights’ folk tale emerged – a lesson no doubt learned from ‘Black Panther’, which led the way in providing an alternative to the white saviour motif of many big-budget movies. Canadian-Egyptian actor Mena Massoud perfectly captures Aladdin’s street-smart charm, while British-Gujarati actress Naomi Scott gives a fire-cracker performance as Princess Jasmine, showing she’s less concerned with finding a husband than learning the required skills to succeed her father (Navid Negahban) to the throne. Marwan Kenzari’s Jafar verges on panto villain, but there’s no denying he cuts a menacing figure. Best of all, the film is a proudly out-and-out musical. Bol

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Film

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Keanu Reeves’s aggrieved assassin is back for another riotous kick-punch-shoot-repeat action gem.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Avengers: Endgame
Film

Avengers: Endgame

Arriving with the momentum that only 21 previous global blockbusters can provide Avengers: Endgame is the multiplex-rattling and curiously emotional culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—at least until the next chapter. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Hong Kong film interviews

Johnnie To
Film

Johnnie To

Arguably Hong Kong’s best contemporary director, Johnnie To talks to us about researching triads and the possibility of Election 3.

Juju Chan
Film

Juju Chan

The up-and-coming star talks about reviving Hong Kong martial arts cinema.

The co-directors of Ten Years
Film

The co-directors of Ten Years

The five co-directors of the controversial local dystopia tell us of their fears for Hong Kong.

Alice Mak
Film

Alice Mak

The creator of McDull talks about life in Hong Kong and why she’s luckier than her creation.

Wong Chun
Film

Wong Chun

The director of the award-winning Mad World discusses his debut film.

Read more interviews

The best films in cinemas now

Toy Story 4
Film

Toy Story 4

Turns out, Pixar’s sentient toys can still make us cry: Nearly 25 years after their cinematic debut, the sweetly selfless plastic pals return in a fourth ‘Toy Story’, one charged by the animated series’ thematic essence of finding purpose in being useful to others. It’s a hopeful, immensely human chapter that echoes and extends the franchise’s complex notions of loyalty, displacement and self-worth, doing so with humour and warmth. Working from a script by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom (as well as six other story contributors, including the ousted ex-Pixar chief John Lasseter), director Josh Cooley successfully balances all these elements – a noteworthy achievement considering the large cowboy boots he had to fill after the epic yet nuanced ‘Toy Story 3’, one of Pixar’s more perfect achievements. The reliable company of old friends certainly helps. Now happily living with a new kid, Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw), Tom Hanks’s pull-string pardner Woody, Tim Allen’s devoted Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack’s feisty Jesse and the rest of the gang are back. New to the clan is Forky (Tony Hale of ‘Veep’, adding nervy personality and genuine weirdness), an existentially confused spork with low self-esteem that the ever-imaginative Bonnie creates as a kindergarten craft project. Convinced of his status as trash (an unusually raw class dilemma for a Pixar movie), Forky get a crash course on his toyness from Woody, himself thrown by a life crisis resembling that of a retiree. B

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Aladdin
Film

Aladdin

Twenty-seven years on from the release of the animated classic, Aladdin gets the live-action treatment, with ‘Sherlock Holmes’ director Guy Ritchie at the helm. The well-known plot is the stuff of Disney magic: a rags-to-riches tale in which a common thief wins the heart of a princess with the help of a magic lamp that transforms him into a prince. If ‘Aladdin’ is not quite a scene-for-scene remake, it gets pretty close. The plot is tweaked with some sensible improvements. Agrabah, a mythical Silk Road city, is described in the original opening song as ‘barbaric’. It’s now simply chaotic, with a bustling population of people from as far as northern Europe (look out for Billy Magnussen’s hilarious Prince Anders) to China, and everywhere in between. It’s clear this version of Aladdin celebrates the cultures from which the ‘Arabian Nights’ folk tale emerged – a lesson no doubt learned from ‘Black Panther’, which led the way in providing an alternative to the white saviour motif of many big-budget movies. Canadian-Egyptian actor Mena Massoud perfectly captures Aladdin’s street-smart charm, while British-Gujarati actress Naomi Scott gives a fire-cracker performance as Princess Jasmine, showing she’s less concerned with finding a husband than learning the required skills to succeed her father (Navid Negahban) to the throne. Marwan Kenzari’s Jafar verges on panto villain, but there’s no denying he cuts a menacing figure. Best of all, the film is a proudly out-and-out musical. Bol

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Film

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Keanu Reeves’s aggrieved assassin is back for another riotous kick-punch-shoot-repeat action gem.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Film

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

This madcap Pokémon adaptation is a tonne of fun until ponderous plotting replaces the anarchy with something you’ve seen a hundred times before.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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