4James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair Twice Play African Royalty Whose Son Flees the Country
Disney's The Lion King is often accused of ripping off a lesser-known Japanese cartoon called Kimba the White Lion, and while the evidence to support that accusation is pretty compelling, we think there's another source that deserves at least as much credit: Eddie Murphy's Coming to America. Seriously.
Disney owes you money, Eddie.
More specifically, veteran actor James Earl Jones (best known for playing Darth Vader's voice in Star Wars) portrays suspiciously similar characters in both movies. While they differ in superficial details, like their degree of horniness, whether they're dead or alive, and the fact that one of them is a talking lion, Jones was paid to do pretty much the same thing in both movies.
"The craft services table for Coming to America had better have wildebeest jerky."
In The Lion King, Jones voices King Mufasa, an African lion and father of Prince Simba (Matthew Broderick). When Mufasa is killed, Simba leaves the kingdom and spends the rest of the movie hakuna matata-ing before an encounter with his dad's ghost motivates him to make a triumphant return and become the king himself.
This vision had nothing to do with the mushrooms Pumba and Timon gave him.
Meanwhile, in Coming to America, Jones portrays the awesomely named King Jaffe Joffer, whose son, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), also leaves the kingdom early in the movie, in this case to work at a knockoff McDonald's in America. Like in The Lion King, a third-act encounter with James Earl Jones' character causes Akeem to return to his homeland and marry his sweetheart. In fact, someone went ahead and pasted some dialogue from Coming to America on top of Lion King footage, and it works pretty well.
Of course, King Joffer isn't quite as wise as Mufasa, so the happy ending in Coming to America probably wouldn't have happened without the intervention and common sense of the queen, played by veteran actress Madge Sinclair. If you're wondering what other movies she's been in, here's one you might have seen: She voiced Queen Sarabi, Simba's mom, in The Lion King. We're now convinced that Disney would have gotten Eddie Murphy to play Simba, too, but then they'd have to legally call it a remake.
"Sweet coat, right? Found it lying under a bunch of wildebeests."
3Jena Malone Is on the Other Side of the Mirror
Every once in a while, you'll see a shot in a movie that leaves you wondering, "How the hell did they do that?" (the answer is blue screens, probably). Those shots tend to stick in your mind, so the chances of another filmmaker getting away with doing the exact same thing are slim. The chances of them doing it with the exact same actress (albeit 14 years older) are even slimmer, but apparently no one told that to Zack Snyder.
You see, in Robert Zemeckis' 1997 film Contact (which according to the IMDb summary is about "aliens or some shit"), there's a tricky sequence where a girl finds out that something has happened to her dad, and in her panic, the world gets all slow-motiony as she's running for the medicine cabinet. The girl is Jodie Foster's character as a 12-year-old, played by child actress Jena Malone.
Who has a much better agent than Foster, since she's not playing hookers at that age.
The camera follows as Malone runs up the stairs and into the bathroom in one continuous shot, but then this happens:
Turns out the whole thing -- including the part where the camera follows her up the stairs -- was happening inside the bathroom mirror, somehow. You can listen to Robert Zemeckis explain how they did that here (but, yeah, it's "blue screens").
Jump forward 14 years to Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, which is basically Alice in Wonderland with machine guns (and strippers). The same effect shows up in a scene where two of the leads are having a discussion in front of a series of vanity mirrors. The camera slowly pans around them ...
... eventually crossing over to the other side of the mirror and blowing your mind.
Recognize the woman in the middle? Yep, that's a no-longer-child actress Jena Malone, repeating the same intricate special effect she did when she was a kid. In a movie where she plays a stripper. OK, so maybe her agent isn't so good after all.
Gregg DeGuire / Getty
Snyder was probably trying to draw a visual parallel between his movie and Through the Looking Glass with this shot, or maybe he just thought it looked neat. Whatever the case, he owes a great debt to Zemeckis' Contact, because he also repeated the shot of the main character running in slo-mo for every other scene he's ever shot.