On Tuesday I reviewed Shazam! a DC film starring Mark Strong. So, what film could I possibly watch for this Throwback Thursday post? How about a DC film starring Mark Strong? Especially as it’s considered to be one of the worst superhero movies of all time. It even has a lower rating than X-Men Origins. Of course, they both star Ryan Reynolds. Until Deadpool was finally released, it seemed as though that guy just wasn’t going to make the superhero thing work. On the plus side, it isn’t the worst the film in DC history. Catwoman and Jonah Hex will forever beat anything and then there’s Joel Schumacher’s reign of terror. But, certainly, Green Lantern has to be one of the biggest missteps in comic book movie history. It’s just become an easy joke. Something that Ryan Reynolds is more than happy to join in with as evidenced by that line in Deadpool. I guess something good finally did come out of this film.
I’ve not had the best history with DC films. I loved Wonder Woman but part of me suspects that I just got caught up in all the celebration. I mean, she was the first female superhero to get her own film. I was already going in feeling excited. I haven’t seen Aquaman yet and I’ve only made it halfway through Justice League. However, I’m pretty confident in saying that my relationship with the DCEU is dicey. So, when it was announced that they were going to release Shazam! I remained unconvinced it would change my opinion. Then I saw the trailer. And it looked really good. I was still kind of skeptical of DC trying to go down the Marvel route after so much Zack Snyder but it seemed like it could work. I mean Zachary Levi as the lead and Mark Strong as the villain? Both of those things sounded great to me. And it’s about time DC had a little bit of fun, right? Shazam! looked like it was going to be a great change of pace.
How has your week been? What have you been reading?
Today, I had a massive panic that I’d accidentally put my phone in the washing machine. I knew I probably hadn’t because even I’m not that stupid but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, my mind immediately starts conjuring up images of it being in the middle of the pile of washing I’d just put on. Of course, I found it not long after. As it happens it was under a pile of books I’d just been taking photos of. Guess that’s what you get when you spend your day off preparing for the week ahead. It also meant that I didn’t read as much as I’d wanted to. My plan is to finish this quickly, have a quick shower, and then settle down with my current read for the night. Get me in the right head space for the week ahead. I’m starting my apprenticeship webinars tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. Then I can finally see what I’ve let myself in for.
As I said in my review of Tim Burton’s Dumbo on Tuesday, I mentioned that it’s been a while since I last watched the animated version. It was definitely when I was a child because I didn’t feel weird about the crows. Something I didn’t bring up in my review. Not because I don’t think it’s problematic: I do. But because I didn’t see what more I could say on the issue that hasn’t already been said. Yes, there is a Jim Crow reference in the middle of the film. Yes, it’s clearly bad. But it happened over 40 years before I was born. Of course, it’s going to make me uncomfortable. We should just be grateful that there was no attempt to make that scene fit into the live action remake. There was already a lot about Tim Burton’s film that stressed me out without coming face-to-face with his interpretation of Disney’s racist past.
I definitely watched Dumbo when I was younger but I can’t say that it was ever one of my favourites. I don’t think I ever really rewatched it. Of course, I remember the adorable elephant because it’s the cutest creature to come out of any Disney film. I remember the clown scene, the song, and, obviously, the flying. My memories of the film were that it was a really sweet but not very exciting film. We were more of a Lion King and Aladdin family. So, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the upcoming remake as I have been with some of the others. Besides, I’m a huge Tim Burton fan. I even liked his reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. Although, I never saw the second one so I might hate that. Still, I was excited by the first look at this film. It had a great cast and it looked fantastic. And, with the dodgy history of this film, making it a bit darker or creepy. If nothing else, it’s 2019 and the idea of keeping elephants captive to perform in a circus is not exactly great.
We all know the story of Dumbo, right? Tiny elephant with massive ears who learns how to fly. He becomes a star and lives happily ever after. Although, in Disney’s latest live-action remake, Dumbo isn’t even the star of his own film. For whatever reason, the decision has been made to give the film a human face thanks to Colin Farrell and his motherless children. Farrell plays Holt Farrier who has returned from the war with one less arm and one less spouse. Holt and his wife were the equestrian performers in the Medici Brothers’ Circus before Holt was called to serve in the army. Whilst he was away, his wife died from Spanish flu leaving his children in the care of the circus owner, Max Medici (Danny DeVito). Unable to go back to his old act, Holt is given the task of caring for the circus’ newly acquired elephants.
It is the baby elephant that Max hopes will pack the punters into the circus but they turn against him when his massive ears are revealed. Thankfully, Holt’s children discover that he has a special talent. They encourage Dumbo to fly in front of an audience and he quickly becomes a star. But all Dumbo really wants is to rejoin his mother who was bought by the villainous V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton). Can Holt and his family save the pair before they become another attraction in Vandevere Dreamland?
I’ll be honest, I remembered Dumbo as being a sweet and charming tale about a flying elephant. I know there were some sad moments with his mum and everything but it was mostly nice, right? Tim Burton’s Dumbo made me feel stressed. There were so many awful moments. The bullying of Dumbo by the audience was so extreme. The scene with the fire was way over-the-top. Everything just seemed to be ramped up to cause as much stress as possible. I don’t wish to sound melodramatic but I was on edge through most of the film. Which would be fine if that was the point. But I don’t think it is. This isn’t a film that is trying to play up the horror elements that Burton is known for. It just feels cruel in points. Unnecessarily.
Cruel and a wasted opportunity. We know from films like Edward Scissorhands that Tim Burton knows how to make great films about weird outsiders trying to find a place in a supposedly civilised society. Dumbo should have been the perfect film for him to remake but, unlike its main character, it never quite gets off the ground. It’s weighted down by so many extra plots and distractions. There are too many characters, which means that nobody gets the development that they need. The CGI elephant is cute and all but you don’t care about him in the same way as the original. There is too much focus on Colin Farrell and co. But even they aren’t given any depth. Everyone just feels like a stock character who is only there to fill space in the frame.
And the story itself feels like it’s just rushing to get to where it wants to be. There isn’t enough build up before we first see the elephant fly. It all happens so quickly and then we’re racing off to a weird futuristic theme park. I know the original Dumbo wasn’t much longer than an hour but they’ve stretched the story so much you can basically see through it. And then there’s the weird message at the centre of the film about the exploitation of big corporations. Considering we’re watching a Disney film this feels kind of disingenuous and jarring. There’s too much going on and you get the impression that Burton wasn’t able to make the kind of film he wanted. The visuals are all beautiful and the cast is, mostly, great. But the script is messy and cluttered. And there’s just not enough Dumbo.
Are you getting bored of these Endgame related posts yet? Don’t worry, we’re in the endgame now. I’ve posted my almost impossible to write spoiler-free review on Tuesday and my spoiler-filled musings on Thursday, so what could possibly be left? Well, I wanted to do a quick shout-out to some of favourite small moments in this film. It was so full of great callbacks and blink and you’ll miss them moments. It was a film for the fans and it paid us much service for our 11 years of loyalty. Of course, I had to stop at some point otherwise I’d just have listed everything that happened in the entire film. And neither you nor I have the time to do that. I managed to narrow it down to 12, which I think is a manageable chunk, right? These aren’t really in any particular order because who can pick between them. Also, feel free to let me know what your favourite moments in the film was. Did I miss any great ones? Probably. I spent most of the battle trying to catch a glimpse of Dr Strange. I’ve missed him. I wanted more of him and his face. But I always want more of him and his face. Anyway, on with the list.
On Tuesday I posted my spoiler free review of Avengers Endgame. I wanted to make sure that anyone silly enough to come to my blog before they watched the film wouldn’t see anything that ruined any aspect of that film for them. But, I also have a lot of feelings and ideas about it. So, just like I did with Infinity War last year, I’m also posting my spoiler-filled post about the film. Last year I did a separate post from my TBT but I wanted to dedicate most of this week to this film. It feels that important. Plus, what film is good enough to pair with such a meaningful film? And, I want to do a final post on Friday without getting too post heavy this week. So, I hope you’ll forgive me this once.
Let me tell you a story about social media: it sucks. Last year, before I’d managed to see Infinity War a person I used to follow on Instagram gave out a massive spoiler to the film. It was a girl who thought she was being really discrete. She said something like, “I don’t want to spoil anything but I just think it’s so sad that after just after he gets his life together he dies”. Her exact wording made it super obvious that she was talking about Loki and that he died very early on in the film. Now, I’d already guessed this was going to happen but to have it confirmed by someone who didn’t think she was making it obvious bugged me. I promptly unfollowed her and anyone else who even mentioned the film. What is the matter with people? I get that we aren’t going to stop people talking about having seen the film but why go into any details? I even feel like all the people who have talked about being devastated are giving too much away. I’m planning to write a specific post about it later so I’ll stop ranting. But because of last year, I knew that I wanted to see Endgame as quickly as possible. I couldn’t risk anyone ruining this for me. It was going to be the movie event of the year. The culmination of 11 years of fandom. The culmination of 22 films. It was the end of an era and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. But I couldn’t wait to see it.
How has your week been? What have you been reading?
Big weekend this weekend. Endgame weekend. I had to wait until Saturday morning to see it but I managed to avoid spoilers. I’m going to be dedicating this week to the film. My Tuesday review will be spoiler free but, instead of a TBT post, I’ll do a spoiler filled analysis on Thursday. I’ll end the week with a celebration of my favourite small moments. It’s a really weird feeling now that I’ve seen it. Not only am I still processing everything but it feels like something has ended. Those of use who have been there since the start have been with these characters for over 11 years. It feels really personal and important that we’re at this point. It’s the end of an era. And the film was such a celebration of the original 5 Avengers that spending a few days talking about them only seems fair. So, I hope you’ll indulge me just this once. And, it gets me away from the problem of deciding which Marvel film to revisit for my TBT. Who could chose?
I don’t know who is in charge of creating the trailers for Joe Cornish’s films but he needs to have a quiet word. The first time I saw the Attack the Block trailer I absolutely hated it but, as a long-time lover of Adam and Joe, I wanted to give it a chance. The film was certainly better than the trailer made it seem. It was a fun play with a much seen genre and Cornish really made the most out of his younger cast. It was the film that introduced us to the great John Boyega and gave us yet more evidence that Jodie Whittaker was a force to be reckoned with. And look where they both are now. An ex-Stormtrooper and Dr Who respectively. Cornish has a talent of gathering a great cast and making things work despite appearances. So, when I first saw and hated the trailer for his second film, I couldn’t help but cringe at The Kid Who Would Be King. It just looked like a boring children’s blockbuster that made obvious jokes and wasn’t very exciting. But I had hope. And, let’s face it, it had to be better than some of the adaptations of the Arthurian legend, right? I mean there have been some stinkers.