films, reviews

Tuesday Review – Dumbo (2019)

dumbo_282019_film295_star_rating_system_2_stars 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.

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films, reviews

Tuesday Review – Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

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5_star_rating_system_2_and_a_half_stars

Not knowing a great deal about manga, I definitely could have gone without seeing Alita: Battle Angel. However, a friend of mine was desperate to see it so I decided to be a pal and go with her. I mean we’re talking Robert Rodriguez directing, James Cameron producing, and starring Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali. There was so much going for this film that I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. And, as I have the tastes of a 12-year-old boy, I do love a film about fighting cyborgs. Especially when those fighting cyborgs are being directed by someone like Rodriguez. So, I was all set to enjoy this film despite my initial hesitation. But, considering the lukewarm reception is received from critics, could this film really live up to the expectations it set for itself? Was this another case of harsh critics or easy to please fans? I had to find out for myself.

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films, reviews, TBT

Throwback Thirty – Taffin (1988)

25388485_star_rating_system_2_stars I got an email this week from a website informing me that it was my half birthday. Apparently that momentous occasion was reason enough for them to offer me money off lingerie. Who knew that half birthdays were the cheap underwear birthdays? Anyway, that email got me thinking that it was time to celebrate me having made  as we have reached this important time of the year I decided that I needed to watch an important film for this TBT post. And there was only one film worth of that honour. It’s a film that I’ve been meaning to watch ever since I heard it discussed on Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish’s radio show. There is a specific scene that became something of an in-joke for the two comedians and their fans. I can only imagine the amount of hours I’ve spent listening to that clip on repeat. It meant that I felt like I knew the film intimately but, obviously, have never seen anything more than a 15 second clip. My friend and I had meant to watch it years ago, during the height of the Adam and Joe Taffin craze. But it never happened. Which means I get to do it now on this, my half-year birthday. It’s almost like fate.

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film reviews, films, review, reviews

Tuesday’s Reviews – A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

a_futile_stupid_gesture-444223942-large5_star_rating_system_3_stars Recently I’ve come down with a bit of a fever. I’ve felt it ever since I saw this Netflix original film last week. It’s main cause is Domhnall Gleeson’s face and the main symptom is being obsessed with Domhnall Gleeson’s face. I’ve been something of a fan of his since I first saw him play Bill Weasley in Harry Potter: although, admittedly I wasn’t as much of a fan of his dodgy accent. It wasn’t a love that prompted me to watch all of his films but it was enough to get me super excited when he was cast in the two new Star Wars films. I had a slight appreciation of his face but it wasn’t enough to make me rush to watch a fucking Richard Curtis film. Then I watched this bipoic of Doug Kenney, the man who helped launch the magazine National Lampoon. I spent a lot of my time looking at the guy playing Kenney’s friend and thinking, “hmm what an interesting face. I wonder who it is.” Cue credits and an obsessive admiration for this adorable ginger Irish man was born. I’ve got it bad, guys. I even stopped so low as to watch that fucking Richard Curtis film. I don’t know what’s happened to me. If only Will Forte hadn’t made it so impossible to ignore A Futile and Stupid Gesture.

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Tursday’s Reviews – Downsizing (2017)

downsizing5_star_rating_system_3_stars I’ve wanted to see this film since I first saw the trailer. Even though I was super freaked out by bald Matt Damon. I’ve lusted after that man since I first saw Ocean’s 11 but, I have to say, he can’t carry off the no hair look and no eyebrows look. It’s really off-putting. Like the opening of Captain America when Chris Evans is CGI’d to be tiny. It’s creepy. I hate it. He looks like a puppet that’s come to life or something. It’s like Marvel didn’t let him eat for months before filming. Bleurgh. It’s not right to take something so pretty and purposefully make it look bad. Especially when, in Downsizing, it feels super unnecessary. And Matt Damon’s head looks so huge and round without hair. What’s going on with that? Still, I managed to get over my anger at hairless Matt Damon and finally saw Alexander Payne’s new film.

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