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, TBT

Throwback Thirty – The Blob (1988)

the_blob_28198829_theatrical_poster 5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars So, I couldn’t find an appropriate film with the word “Return” in the title to review this week but, as I’m still on this October high, I have picked another great horror film. Last week I watched a parody of a classic B movie from the 50s. This week we’re celebrating a remake of one of them. The Blob was first released in 1958 starring Steve McQueen. 30 years later it was remade with Kevin Dillon. The original was a low-budget, independent film that went on to become a surprise hit. It helped that McQueen, appearing in one of his earliest roles, stood out as the star he would go on to be. The original film is everything that the science-fiction films of the 50s were known for. It became a classic horror film and it’s obvious to see why it would be on the cards to be remade. As we have seen, the 80s was a big era for horror films. The zombie uprising was still in full swing and cinema audiences were keen to be scared. It makes sense that one of the granddaddies of the genre would be near the top of the list for a remake utilising the improved special effects of the time… and that guy from Entourage.

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films, reviews

Tuesday’s Reviews – Ocean’s 8 (2018)

oceans-8-2018-english-900mb5_star_rating_system_3_stars Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film was a great film. Featuring a cast of big names and possessing an even bigger sense of fun, it was something I enjoyed watching again and again. Then the series went downhill thanks to the release of Ocean’s 12 and had a slight improvement with the final installment Ocean’s 13. Soderbergh was adamant that neither he or George Clooney wanted to carry on with the films but that didn’t stop the rumours of a gender-swap reboot. Now, I’m all for female centric films but was there really anything to add to this series? Soderbergh’s trilogy proved that it was an area that you couldn’t really get very innovative with so would we literally just see the same film but with females in the male roles? The cast list was sensational and exciting. Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sandra Bullock, Helena Bonham Carter. Love them all. Anne Hathaway? She’s had her moments alongside her undeserving Oscar wins. Rihanna? I guess. So I was there. Really, I was just secretly glad that Leslie Jones wasn’t here in the Bernie Mack role. We’ve seen where that gets us in Ghostbusters.

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film reviews, films, reviews, TBT

Throwback Thirty – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

51qkexsv7wl-_sy445_5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars I’m starting to get to the point with my TBT film jar where the fun films are getting fewer and the more serious ones are piling up. It will mean that I will finally get to see some of the classics of the 80s that I’ve always put off but it also means I’ll have to be in the right frame of mind when I watch them. Today I don’t think I could have handled anything other than this light-hearted crime caper. It’s been my day off and I’ve been super lazy all day. So lazy, in fact, that I fell asleep during my initial viewing of this film and missed a good chunk of the story. Once I’d been revitalised by my nap I went back and finished it properly. I don’t think my inability to stay awake was caused by the film itself. More the fact that my bastard body clock refuses to let me sleep in when I’m not working. The problem with working 7am shifts during the week means I’ve not had a proper lie in for years. I miss my uni days when I could genuinely sleep in all morning and not give a shit. Also, back in those days, because I had so little contact time, I could watch at least 3 films in one day.

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