Showing posts with label the lion king. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the lion king. Show all posts

Family Fun & Educational Activities on Disney+

Disney Plus Media Image

Finding yourself inside and unable to go to school can be difficult for everyone.  Parents are worried and stressed about, well, everything right now and know that your kids are also feeling some of that worry as well.  While little minds may not be able to understand everything that is happening, they do know that their daily lives are being disrupted with not being able to go to school, not playing with friends, and not seeing family members outside of their own house.  Times like these call for good old fashioned family time to make everyone feel a bit better.  I've compiled a list of some of my favorite movies currently on Disney+ that you can enjoy with your family. . .either just for fun or with an educational component!  Check them out!

Lady and the Tramp

I loved this remake of the animated classic, probably even more than I liked the original.  Here is my review of the film if you're wondering if it's right for your family.  Looking for a way to turn this into a family fun night?  Why not set up your own Tony's restaurant! Your kids can design menus including pasta, breads, salads, and drinks.  They can take orders and add up a bill to practice some of those math skills.  Then your family can enjoy a night of spaghetti and meatballs while watching Lady and the Tramp come to life in your living room!


Meet The Voices Behind Young Simba and Nala in The Lion King

What would you get if you packed talent, brains, personality, and a little bit of spunk into two young actors?  You'd get JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph of course!  These two are rising stars and are the voices behind Young Simba and Young Nala in Disney's The Lion King opening everywhere July 19th.  I recently had an opportunity to sit down with these two when their press trip brought them to Washington, D.C. for an interview to get to know them better.  It's probably wrong to actually call this a true interview though.  I was joined by two other bloggers and the actors - that's it. It was an easy conversation in a suite at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. instead of the feel of a big media event.  Because of this atmosphere, we had a nice chat with the two young stars about making The Lion King, what it's like to be a star on the rise in the music and movie world, and what's next for them!  So let's check it out!

On Making The Lion King - Several of the questions we asked JD and Shahadi were about their experience making the film.  Both of them talked about the influence the 1994 animated classic had on their performance.  Like most everyone else, they've grown up watching the animated version of The Lion King and certainly thought back on it as they dove into their roles.  Shahadi shared that they wanted to stay "as authentic as possible while adding our own personalities to it."  JD agreed and described the opportunity to play Simba as a "dream come true."  When asked about their favorite scenes to record, Shahadi shared that her favorite was "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" as she has been "loving that song for a long time," while JD enjoyed recording the stampede scene.  Sharing a bit of the emotions that can take over when creating movies, JD told us that he really cried when recording that particular heartbreaking scene.  Along the same lines, each of the actors found ways that they connected with their characters.  JD talked about really looking up to his dad, just like Simba does with Mufasa, and also being brave adding "I used to get scared of stuff a lot easier than I do now."  On the other side of the table, Shahadi felt that she can relate to Nala's spunk, wit, and confidence.  I then posed a question about the new technology that Director Jon Favreau used in this film.  To create the world of The Lion King with a "live action" feel, Favreau used virtual reality to allow actors to actually be transported to Pride Rock, the Elephant Graveyard and throughout Africa. On using the new VR headsets, JD shared, "We put it on, we had these controllers in our hands, and just looked around.  You can see Pride Rock, the savannah, the watering hole.  We saw the elephant graveyard and everything was so real. It was crazy."  Helping to add to the realistic feel, Favreau had young Simba and Nala work with some of the other actors in the film as well when recording.  The two young stars had a chance to record with the hyenas, Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), and Billy Eichner (Timon).  The hyenas were apparently as scary to record with as they come across in the film!

JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph voice Simba
and Nala in Disney's The Lion King. Photo from
Walt Disney Studios.
What Their Lives Are Like Now - Both young stars are incredibly down-to-earth and humble, especially given the fact that their careers are literally exploding right now.  As musicians and actors these two keep themselves busy.  When we talked about balancing the entertainment industry with being a kid, both JD and Shahadi made it all sound easy!  Shahadi continues to attend regular school in New York and finds time to hang out with her friends when she's not working.  Likewise, JD enjoys playing video games just like many other 12 year old kids and is homeschooled in Los Angeles.  Both also talked about getting some rest and relaxation following this whirlwind press tour that ends shortly after the release of the film.  Shahadi couldn't hold back a smile when she talked about ending the press tour just a short subway ride away from home and looking forward to a family cruise later this summer.  My daily work with middle school students lead me to ask this 12 and 14 year old what advice they would have for kids their age about pursuing their dreams.  Shahadi, showing a maturity well beyond her years, began "I think that you should find something that you are really passionate about and just keep striving for it, keep working for it."  JD then added "The people that kept going for it and never gave up, always made it to where they wanted to go."

What's Next For Shahadi and JD? - Speaking of following their dreams, these two are certainly doing that! Shahadi has already starred on Broadway, coincidentally playing the role of Young Nala, and on screen.   Now, she's tackling the music world and was excited to share that she just released a new single, "Skin I'm In" that was debuted by Billboard just a few days before our interview.  JD has been busy making waves in the music industry himself, as the youngest male solo artist ever signed to Hollywood Records.  He released an EP, "Shine" that features 4 songs and was also beaming as he talked about his singles "Keep in Touch" and "My Name." One thing is certain - we are only beginning to hear from these bright young stars!

These two certainly shine on the big screen as Simba and Nala and I'm sure you'll join me in falling in love with them when The Lion King opens in theaters on July 19.  In the meantime, don't miss my thoughts on this film.  You can also download a FREE family activity packet courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.  You can follow all of The Lion King fun on social media below! Hakuna Matata!

Hashtag:  #TheLionKing

Can you STILL feel the love for The Lion King in 2019?

I should start out by saying that I was 10 when Disney released the animated version of The Lion King and it's been one of my favorite movies of all-time ever since.  From the music to the heartfelt story, it was everything a Disney movie should be.  The little girl in me was thrilled when I heard about a remake of this classic hitting the big screens in 2019 and with Jon Favreau directing (he also directed The Jungle Book), I had a feeling we were in a for a real treat.  So can you still feel the love 25 years later for The Lion King?  Short answer - YES!

If you're unfamiliar with the story of The Lion King, let's catch you up with the official Disney synopsis of the film:

Disney’s “The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau (“The Jungle Book”), journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

Staying true to the classic story, director Jon Favreau utilizes pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring the iconic characters to the big screen in a whole new way. Featuring the voices of Donald Glover as Simba, BeyoncĂ© Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon, Disney’s “The Lion King” opens in U.S. theaters on July 19, 2019.

So the big question on everyone's mind is how does it stack up to the original.  The story is basically the same, but using CGI to create the characters and background you obviously have the more "live action" feel to film.  Along with that, you lose the cartoon emotions of the animals that you see in the original, instead relying on voice delivery to carry the emotions for the movie.  I think some may find this to be a bit disappointing when compared to the original, but I felt like it just made the story seem more "real." Standouts for me were young Simba and young Nala voiced by JD McCrary and Shahadi Joseph Wright.  They perfected the attitude and innocence of the two young cubs looking for adventure and being anxious to grow up.  I was really pleased to hear James Earl Jones back as the voice of Mufasa - I mean, could you imagine anyone else in the role?  Naturally Beyonce and Donald Glover crushed "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" leaving you feeling all the feels.  The only performance that didn't click for me was Scar.  I always thought "Be Prepared" was such a great villain song in a Disney film and this one is very different than the original and just didn't work for me.  Hands down though, Pumbaa and Timon (voiced by Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner respectively) steal the show.  If you thought this warthog and meerkat duo were funny before, JUST WAIT until you see them now!
Timon and Pumbaa - stealing the show!!
Photo from Walt Disney Studios

The next thing to know is this movie is visually stunning - I mean unreal CGI.  You will feel like you are right there with the characters in Africa.  I was fortunate to have my screening in IMAX and I highly recommend that if you have a theater near you.  This movie was made for the biggest and best screen around.  With all of this true-to-life feel, the action in the movie is more intense than in the original.  Watching the lions fight is really like watching lions fight.  Watching the stampede in the gorge seems so real and intense that it may be a little much for small ones to handle.  Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to bring your littlest cubs along with you to the movie.

Musically, the movie holds it's own with the tough-to-top 1994 original soundtrack.  I had chills listening to "Circle of Life" as the movie opened and I think this opening may even be more powerful than the original.  McCrary and Joseph bring the fun in "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" and Beyonce and Glover are powerful in "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"  Rogen and Eichner are hysterical in "Hakuna Matata" - they definitely use the previous version as an inspiration, but also put their own twist on the song. . .you'll see!  The only song that I didn't enjoy was "Be Prepared" which wasn't even much of a musical number in this adaptation.

I would definitely recommend this and I'm putting up there with Beauty and the Beast as my favorite "live action" remake.  While it wasn't perfect - it was pretty darn close in my book and I can't wait to see it again with the whole family.  And don't miss this FREE Activity Packet you can download which has both educational and fun activities for your whole family!

Hashtag: #TheLionKing

I was able to attend an advanced media screening to bring you all the details before it hits theaters!  As always, thoughts and opinions are my own!

What's New in Disney Movie News! - July 8th

Y'all the last few days have been enough to make any Disney movie fan's head spin.  It seems like there is trending, top news every day!  So let's break it down in case you've missed any of the hype.

The Lion King (Releasing July 19, 2019) - We are fast approaching the opening of this live action remake of the 1994 classic and I can certainly feel the love tonight!  This looks like a great film and features the voice talents of Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, and Beyonce - among many others.  I'll be attending an advanced screening of the film at the Air and Space Museum in DC on Wednesday, 7/10 and then will have the chance to interview some of the cast the following week!  That's right, I'll be interviewing Young Simba, JD McCrary, and Young Nala, Shahadi Wright Joseph.  I can't wait to share all of the excitement with you!  For now, grab a peek at the trailer before you join the stampede to see it in theaters!

Walt Disney Studios: Disney’s “The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau (“The Jungle Book”), journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.


Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Releasing October 18, 2019) - So a new trailer just dropped today for this sequel to the 2014 Maleficent.  I have to say, Maleficent is my favorite Disney villain and I was a big fan of the original.  I enjoyed the fact that Disney did a live-action spin-off instead of sticking to the usual remake option.  It's really cool to hear the story of Sleeping Beauty from the villain's side.  If you haven't yet seen Maleficent, do it and get ready to catch up with Aurora, Maleficent and the rest of the humans and fairies in the kingdom!

Walt Disney Studios: The years have been kind to Maleficent and Aurora. Their relationship, born of heartbreak, revenge and ultimately love, has flourished. Yet the hatred between man and the fairies still exists. Aurora’s impending marriage to Prince Phillip is cause for celebration in the kingdom of Ulstead and the neighboring Moors, as the wedding serves to unite the two worlds. When an unexpected encounter introduces a powerful new alliance, Maleficent and Aurora are pulled apart to opposing sides in a Great War, testing their loyalties and causing them to question whether they can truly be family.


Mulan (Releasing March 27, 2020) - Disney has a habit of releasing movies on my birthday weekend every year. . .they can keep that streak up.  Mulan will release the day before my birthday and the first teaser trailer was released Sunday during halftime of the Women's World Cup final.  The movie seems like it will be a little more "serious" than the cartoon (I don't know if that's the right word, but it's all I can come up with now). There's no sign of Mushu in the trailer the fan favorite songs weren't featured.  What does this mean for the film?  It's yet to be seen!  I was not a big fan of the original Mulan, and I can already tell I'm going to like this more.  The scenery and costumes look stunning.  What do you think?

Walt Disney Studios: When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father.  Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation. . .and a proud father. 


The Little Mermaid (Coming ?????) - Disney is just now releasing casting information for this film that is in the works and it's already making controversial headlines.  Social media lit up when it was announced that Halle Bailey will be Ariel.  Halle is a talented singer and actress, but because of the color of her skin, some people took to social media to voice their outrage and #NotMyAriel began trending.  My heart broke for this young girl when I saw this happening.  Imagine working incredibly hard to be at the top of your game, find out you get to play the role of a Disney princess in what will surely be a blockbuster film, and then see the ugly side of social media tear you down.  I have to say that I'm excited to see her portrayal of Ariel and applaud Disney for making a casting choice that will allow more young girls to see themselves as Ariel too.  The Little Mermaid is one of the first movies I remember seeing as a little girl and I can't wait to see it on the big screen again!

And if you think this is busy, just wait for the end of summer to heat up as I'm sure will get new details about Frozen 2 releasing in November and Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker releasing in December.  Walt Disney Studios is certainly on fire and doesn't show any signs of slowing down!  Which movies are you most excited to see??