I’m yet to be convinced by Disney’s plan to remake all of its animated film as live-action. At best, they can be described as fine. At worst, they’re pointless. The best by far is The Jungle Book because it was only slightly concerned with the original film. I guess Maleficent worked pretty well but I wonder how much that had to do with Angelina Jolie rather than the actual film. So, I wasn’t exactly hyped when it was announced that Cruella DeVil, first seen in 1961’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians, was getting an origin story. Or that she was going to be played by Emma Stone. Don’t get me wrong, I love Emma Stone but she’s no Glenn Close. The 1996 remake did many things wrong but casting Close as the villain was a genius stroke. I didn’t see how Stone would be able to compete and that was before I heard her dodgy accent.
My last Tuesday blog ended with me saying that I needed to stop watching random animated movies and start watching real films again. Of course, when I said real films what I meant was grown-up films. It’s not that I think animated films aren’t real. So, I guess it could be considered something of a failure that I’m back this week with another animated feature but I think this one’s okay. After all, the latest Pixar release is a far cry from the random stuff that keeps popping up on Netflix these days. I’ve always been a big Pixar fan, so I knew that I had to check this one out as soon as possible.
Just like my last TBT film review, this film has found a new lease of life in recent years. There’s something about the internet generation and supposedly underdog films. I never watched this when it was released because I was pretty beyond my Disney phase in 2001. I mean, yes, I still loved the classics of my childhood but would I actively go and see the new releases? Hell no! I was a super mature 13-year-old at that point. I wouldn’t be seen dead at a Disney film. Well, maybe I’d ironically go and watch Monsters Inc with my friend for someone’s birthday and pretend that I didn’t secretly love it. But The Emperor’s New Groove was released during that era of Disney when I wasn’t watching any animated films from the studio. So, why not finally watch it?
What have you been reading this week?
So, after just over a year of being in lockdown and shielding as much as I can, I’m heading back into the office on Monday. It’s not that I didn’t know this day was coming, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so soon. Especially as there’s nothing that I can do in the office that I can’t do at home. On the other hand, I’ve had my first vaccine and have my second one of Tuesday. That means in a few weeks, I’ll be as protected as I’m going to be. It’s probably time to get back to as normal an existence as possible. I mean, I won’t be rushing out to shops or pubs yet but it might be nice to be around other people for a bit. Although, I started my current job in April 2019 and I realise that I’ve spent more time at home than I have in the workplace. Just something to think about.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack of this film non-stop. I don’t know why I started listening to it. Especially considering that I’d never seen the film until this week. It was recommended to me on YouTube, which potentially shows you how much Disney I’ve been listening to lately. I guess it makes me feel better about how awful the world it right now. After months of ignoring it, I couldn’t resist the lure of the Rock singing a Lin-Manuel Miranda song anymore. Turns out, the soundtrack is absolutely amazing. It was only fair that I actually watch the whole film. At least I knew that if the story was bad that I’d have the songs to fall back on.
When I review the first book in the Artemis Fowl series, I mentioned that wanted to read it before watching the film. It’s always tricky when it comes to book adaptations that you care about. Especially when you care about it for nostalgic reasons. You obviously want to it be as good as possible, but you also know that there will have to be changes. You can’t get everything into a film version without the runtime being uncomfortably long. Which is why I don’t normally reread books just before I watch a film. Otherwise, you’re too close to it to be objective. But with Artemis Fowl, it had been too long since I’d read the series for me to be happy to watch it. I needed to refamiliarise myself a little more first. But would it be my undoing? I was already going in with low expectations thanks to the criticism the film garnered. Would my recent reread cause even more problems? I had to find out.
A friend of mine is convinced that Nicolas Cage has 5 truly good films. This is something that she’s maintained for years. The only problem is, she can’t actually remember what all of the 5 films are. There’s Kick Ass obviously and Face/Off. I think she also approved of Lord of War but, after that, things get pretty shaky. I’m pretty sure that National Treasure was one of them but that might just be something I’m choosing to believe. I also feel as though I should point out that her definition of good doesn’t necessarily mean top quality. I think it just means fun to watch. That’s the joy of a Nick Cage film. You don’t go in expecting to be wowed but you at least want to be entertained. You need him to be at just the right level of Cageism so he’s funny without being irritating. National Treasure offers perfect level Cage.
Have we all seen the Cruella trailer? I have to admit that it’s better than I expected it to be. Although I really wasn’t expecting much. I definitely wasn’t overjoyed when Disney announced that they were giving one of their most heinous villains a solo feature. After all, you can’t exactly do a Maleficent to a woman whose sole mission was to kidnap and skin puppies. I don’t see how you can try and humanise something that like. Are they going to try and convince us that Cruella’s only sin is that she was overlooked in the fashion industry? That she was too daring? Or maybe she’ll have been bitten by a Dalmatian as a child and that’s why she’s so keen to turn them into clothing? What is more likely is that this will be a film similar to Joker which suggests it was merely an issue with mental health treatment that allowed Cruella to become the monster we know her to be. I wasn’t here for Todd Phillips’ nonsense so why would I want Craig Gillespie’s gender swapper version? Also, why is nobody talking about how irritating and bad Emma Stones’ British accent is? I love her but it does not work for this character. How did she get it so right in The Favourite but not here? Shocking.
I feel so much better about doing these film reviews having had a week’s break from it all. Maybe, I need to come up with a plan to do film reviews every fortnight and some other film related content on the alternate weeks? I don’t know. I never want to reach a point where it feels like doing the things I love starts to feel like work. I’ve started to realise that my self-imposed schedule is really driving my life more than it probably should. I spend so much of my free time writing or watching/reading something to write about. Then there are the photos I take every week. It’s fine in lockdown because what else would I be doing? But, eventually, I’m going to want to start socialising again. Having spent a year forced to stay inside, I’m starting to realise how little I went out before. Although, there’s no need to worry about that yet. The UK isn’t going to be getting out of this mess any time soon so I might as well carry on watching films when I feel like it.
Pixar films have been a bit dangerous in the last few years. By which I mean, they have been steadily getting more and more existential and they make me sad. Inside Out is one of the best discussions about mental health that I’ve ever seen. Coco explored the concept of death in such a moving and human way. These are the kind of films that I wish had been around when I was a kid. Maybe I’d have grown up to be a slightly more well-adjusted adult. Not much obviously. Pixar are great but they can’t perform fucking miracles! Considering the studio has something of a habit of making me cry, I was especially concerned about their latest film but I also knew that I couldn’t miss it. Even the poster was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. How could I not watch the whole thing?