Don’t get me wrong, I love Robert Downey Jr. as much as the next person but, let’s be honest, he’s been playing the same character for years now. The actor was getting his career on track during the early 2000s but it wasn’t until Iron Man that he really became a person to watch. Since that point, it’s kind of felt that we’ve been getting the same thing in almost every film. He’s basically just playing a hyped-up version of himself. The major difference between his Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes is a hundred or so years. Now I think RDJ. is a great guy but there’s just no surprise any more. When you see that RDJ is in a cast, you can be pretty sure about the kind of character he’s going to play. Yeah, I understand that Dr Dolittle is a pretty odd guy but he’s inherently British. He’s described in the books as a well-respected and quiet man. Not an absurd comic figure of fun. I just couldn’t see how a big Hollywood adaptation with RDJ in the titular role would work as well as the classic 1967 film did. But I was willing to be proven wrong.
The live-action Disney remakes are a curious thing. They’re making a shit-ton of money but, from what I can tell, nobody really likes them. I guess that not only means that we’re all suckers for going to see them but that Disney really is despicably good at business. We all love to get nostalgic and the curiosity of seeing how they’ve been updated is always going to get people buying tickets. It’s the reason that I initially bought so many of the books in The Austen Project. Of the live-action Disney movies that I’ve seen, only The Jungle Book really worked. I’m hopeful that Mulan will be amazing because it’s refusing to go down the musical line. It’s not that I don’t love a musical because I bloody love a musical. There’s a reason why my Spotify end of year round-up was mostly the Hamilton soundtrack. It’s just, Disney animated movies work as musicals because they’re animated. You don’t need to question why everyone’s singing because it’s not real. When the action starts to get realistic, that starts to be problematic. Stage musicals work in a similar way because you accept that you’re watching a play. Live-action films become a little tricky. It can work. I know I didn’t like Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables but, because there is no spoken dialogue, the singing at least makes sense. The live-action Disney movies raise too many questions. Especially when you add animals into the mix. So, when the new Aladdin film came out last year, I wasn’t convinced it would work for me. But, I have been a long-time lover of Will Smith’s musical career, so I wanted to give him a chance. It was time to find out once and for all.
Lady and the Tramp is a great Disney film but it was never one of my favourites. I mean, I loved the dogs but it lacked most of the things that I loved most about these films. The songs weren’t as catchy and there was no deliciously evil bad guy to stand up to. It’s lovely but there are more memorable ones. So, it’s not as if the live-action remake was ever going to make as big a splash as the recent Lion King or Aladdin films. I guess that could be another part of the reason why Disney decided to forgo a cinema release and leave it as part of its opening line-up for Disney+. Yes, it would have made money but does it have the popularity to bring in the big bucks? Also, the exclusivity would just make the people still wavering feel that their subscription was worth it. But how much value does it actually add to the platform?
Now that Brad Pitt has been exploring space in Ad Astra, it’s become pretty clear that the Ocean’s 11 gang aren’t the best people to send into space. Matt Damon obviously had a tough time during The Martian. Brad Pitt had to face up to his daddy issues. And, way back in 2002, George Clooney was facing his own demons in Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris. The film was based on the 1961 science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem. By 2002, the book had already been turned into a Soviet television film and a film adaptation by Andrei Tarkovsky. Though the earlier film is critically acclaimed, Soderbergh claimed that his version would be more faithful to the novel than Tarkovsky. Unfortunately, the author hated both versions. Well, I guess you can’t please anyone. With the release of Ad Astra recently, there were plenty of critics who were bringing up Clooney’s space adventure. Well, I guess the two are science-fiction films that dealt with the deep stuff. It felt right to watch it for today’s post.
I can’t believe this film is this old. I also can’t believe that George Clooney looks so much better now than he did 18 years ago. Seriously, what is going on with that man? But, there we are. And I remember watching this film for the first time. It blew my mind. The twist worked really well. It’s also the film that first introduced me to my long-standing crush on Matt Damon. Before this, I didn’t give a shit about him but there was something about watching him rob Andy Garcia that obviously really did it for me. I used to watch the scene where he’s hanging above a vault shaft on repeat. A lot. Boy, he had some mighty fine arms. And I guess it’s true what they say; women like a bad boy. But I didn’t just like this film because of Matt Damon. It was a hugely entertaining film. And, as I found out, it still stands up 18 years later. Steven Soderbergh really is quite the talent. Has he actually properly retired now? I can never keep up with that man. That man has had more comebacks than The Rolling Stones at this point.
One of the films that I watched for my Throwback Thirty was the Michael Caine and Steve Martin comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It wasn’t the worst film that I watched last year but it didn’t really make an impact. So, the news that it was being remade with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson didn’t necessarily leave me feeling super excited. I’m all for getting more female leads in comedy films but why does it have to be like this? Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was itself a remake. So, The Hustle is a remake of a remake. I know it’s a bit of a cliche to say that Hollywood is out of ideas but, is Hollywood out of ideas or something? And, as much as I don’t want to sound like those awful men on the internet, I just didn’t really see what the gender switch was really going to add to the story.
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.
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.
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.
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.