Dumbo (2019) Review

Dumbo (2019)

Directed by Tim Burton

Based on Disney’s Dumbo by Otto Englander, Joe Grant & Dick Huemer and on Dumbo by Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl

Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’m really sick of these Disney live-action remakes of animated classics. I don’t see the point. From recent trailers, The Lion King looks like a soulless copy and Aladdin looks absolutely dreadful. Beauty And The Beast pretty much sucked (but I can’t stand Emma Watson so that didn’t help). I didn’t mind Cinderella but I wonder if it would just annoy me if I watched it again now that I’m sick of all these live-action remakes. I’ve kind of vowed to no longer waste my money going to see this shit.

But I knew I’d go to Dumbo because it’s Tim Burton. I’m a hypocrite. I know his best films are far in the past but I still haven’t given up on him and I wanted to see what he’d do with this film. Plus Dumbo himself was so adorable in the trailers. I’ve always loved that baby elephant! Well, I enjoyed this film. It’s a good one to end on. I’ll happily watch no more live-action remakes after this one.

I feel like I have to justify liking a live-action remake. What can I say? I still love that baby elephant. Of course this comes nowhere near the original film and it breaks my heart that some kids may be watching these remakes before the animated films. Or not watching the animated films at all. For some reason, I prefer when these remakes aren’t an exact copy (which The Lion King looks like). I don’t mind having extra bits of story added on, making it feel like an entirely separate film and therefore not messing with the original film’s legacy in my mind. This movie isn’t Dumbo to me. It never will be. But I think they did well with the character of Dumbo himself and he was by far the best thing about this film (as he should be). Dumbo is the true star of this movie.


The reviews I’ve read have all said that it’s the human characters that let this film down. This is true, although they aren’t terrible. They’re bland but not hateful. The only truly weak one is Michael Keaton’s completely generic baddie but the rest are good enough to support the overall story about a flying elephant. Colin Farrell and his two children (Nico Parker & Finley Hobbins), who are the main human characters, are fine but these roles could’ve been played by anyone. However, Danny DeVito & Eva Green are fun to watch and perfect for Tim Burton’s films – you can understand why he sticks with his favorite actors in so many of his films. The human stories were good enough to keep the film interesting while not overlooking the fact that the one story that really matters is Dumbo’s. And I liked the ending. I’m fine with all the changes in the second half as it’s so different from the original that it hasn’t destroyed my love for the animated film. I also liked how they incorporated the Pink Elephants On Parade bit into this film.

Is it weird that I feel bad for liking the new Dumbo?? I do seriously wish they’d stop with these live-action remakes but, in this case, I was happy seeing this character in a new way. He’s always been a favorite Disney character of mine and I think they did a good job with the look him. They got a good balance between making him look like a real elephant but also sort of “cartoony”, and his adorable blue eyes are very expressive. They did a better job with him than with the other CGI animals in these Disney remakes. I also enjoyed the overall production design of this film, but that’s usually the case with Burton’s movies. None of these Disney remakes will ever top the animated classics but at least the 2019 Dumbo hasn’t destroyed the original film’s legacy for me.

My Rating: 7/10

I’ve added Dumbo to my full ranked list of all the Tim Burton movies I’ve seen HERE. I guess I better finally watch Dark Shadows as it’s the only full-length film he’s directed that I’ve not seen.

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them (2016) Review

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them (2016)

Directed by David Yates

Based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Colin Farrell

Music by James Newton Howard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

My Opinion:

I always say this then meander on for ages but I really mean it this time: I’ll keep this review very short. Why? Because I don’t have much to say. Sadly, I found this film to be a bit of a bore. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t actively like it, either, which is actually worse than hating the f*^k out of a movie. At least the hateful ones stir up some actual emotions! And the most-hated ones are fun to bitch about. There’s nothing worse than boring when it comes to entertainment & the arts. Have some balls! Make something worth watching/looking at/listening to/appreciating/hating the f*^k out of! Don’t waste my time.

I do like Harry Potter. I absolutely loved the books as I read them but they didn’t end up as all-time favorites of mine in the same way things like The Lord Of The Rings did. The movies were fine and I enjoy seeing books I like adapted for the screen but I didn’t exactly obsess over the movies & I’ve never re-watched any. Actually, I’ve not even watched the final film… Although the books were thoroughly enjoyable, I’m far from being an “obsessive Harry Potter fan” so bear in mind that I won’t automatically be worshipping this film like a fan would. I’ve not read Fantastic Beasts and went into this knowing very little other than that it was set in America 70ish years before the events of Harry Potter (right???).

Where do I start? First of all, I didn’t feel any connection to the characters & didn’t care what would happen to them. I’ve not seen Eddie Redmayne’s biggest “Oscar” performances but I’m sorry to say I’m not a fan based on his few films I’ve seen. As he’s the main character, it didn’t help that I find him & his haircut mildly annoying. Katherine Waterston, the second-biggest character, was fine but so looks like a cross between Jennifer Jason Leigh & that chick from ER (Maura Tierney – had to look her up) that I was constantly distracted by this. The woman playing her sister, Alison Sudol, had the potential to be hateful but definitely grew on me. Actually, her character and the “muggle” played by Dan Fogler ended up being the characters I liked & cared about the most (See? I’m not totally dismissive. I said something nice!). Ezra Miller & Samantha Morton, both great actors, were completely wasted in dull roles. Jon Voight was as Jon Voight-y as always & Colin Farrell was the boringly bland baddie I expected (I rarely like his performances). Oh! And then there’s Johnny Depp, of course. Is that a spoiler?? It’s an extremely small role clearly destined for big things in the sequels. He’s his usual “Look at me, I’m quirky!” self. I HATE that seeing him in movies just makes me cringe now. He used to be my favorite actor! What the hell happened??

I’m meandering! I’ll wrap this up. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is an overlong & overcomplicated film that feels like another cash-grab due to the fact that it’s going to be yet another damn series of movies. To be fair, I didn’t have this issue with Harry Potter as it was already a series of books where each individual book was as great as the overall story (although the final book being two movies gets on my nerves). I may have liked Fantastic Beasts more if it was just one movie with a proper conclusion & no “wait for the sequel!” cliffhangers. Knowing there are going to be four more films just exhausts me, to be honest. It’s highly unlikely I’ll bother with them (unless I get another free pass like I had for this one). I don’t know the Harry Potter world well enough to have noticed the connections that fans will have loved but I didn’t feel like there were many links at this point? I’m also confused as to who this film is actually aimed at. The characters are adults so kids won’t go for it (my 7-year-old didn’t really like it plus it was borderline too scary). I guess it’s for those who grew up on Harry Potter & are now in their late twenties or so? It just seems like a very small target audience and I can’t see it gaining any new fans who aren’t already Potter fans. I guess the beasts themselves were okay, though cheesy-looking (my favorite was this dude but he’s too similar to the much cooler Groot).

As for the story… Meh. I didn’t fully follow what was going on. But I did fall asleep at some point in the middle, which didn’t help. Yep – I fell asleep in the cinema! As did the other adult I was with. I never do that. I call that proof that Fantastic Beasts is a bit of a snoozefest. It’s not a bad film but I find J.K. Rowling’s tweets far more entertaining than the story in this.

My Rating: 6/10

Fright Night (2011) Review

Fright Night (2011)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Based on Fright Night by Tom Holland

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a teenage boy who discovers that his neighbor is actually a vampire, which culminates to a battle between the two.

My Opinion:

I might as well start by pointing out the obvious to anyone who knows me: I prefer the original Fright Night and remakes piss me off. I haven’t actually watched the original in years, though, which is why I’m not going to do a comparison review. But I’ll always be fond of it as, along with A Nightmare On Elm Street, it was my introduction to 80’s slasher-type flicks at a junior high spin the bottle party. Ah, good times!

So, this is indeed yet another completely pointless remake but is it any worse than all the other pointless remakes? I guess it’s probably at the ever-so-slightly better end of things. It at least didn’t completely piss me off & make me want to shout at my TV like that godawful A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Argh!!! That one actually damaged the franchise & I wish it didn’t exist. This Fright Night is just a bit “so what?”. It’s ultimately forgettable but is luckily different enough from the 1985 film that it hasn’t damaged it in my mind.


These signs seemed extraneous at the time…

The only reason I decided to watch this was to see Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.). I’ve liked Yelchin ever since Charlie Bartlett & was saddened by his untimely death. He was uniquely talented and the absolute perfect choice to play Charley Brewster in Fright Night so I have no complaints there. I also liked Toni Collette as his mother and had no problem with Imogen Poots as Charley’s girlfriend even though she’s too hot for him. But that’s movies for you! The nerdy guys always get the hot girls. Anyway – She’s a cutie & the name Poots never fails to make me giggle. Finally, I loved David Tennant as “vampire hunter” Peter Vincent. He’s my favorite Doctor Who and I found him strangely attractive in his leather pants & eyeliner…


Unfortunately, while the casting of these actors/actresses was spot on, I really disliked Colin Farrell as our main vampire baddie Jerry. I don’t normally like him much anyway but he really didn’t have the charisma or the sexy charming thing going on that I expect from a vampire. As for Christopher Mintz-Plasse, I can see why they chose him as Charley’s nerdy friend Ed but he’s so typecast now that he’s starting to get on my nerves & just ended up an annoying distraction. Massive fail with the casting of these two, which was disappointing as everyone else was so good.

Summary:

Fright Night (2011) is pointless but I suppose it’s not horrible. I’m not stupid, though – I know that younger people don’t like watching older movies so are very unlikely to seek out the original. Therefore, I’m not going to waste my breath (er… fingers?) telling everyone to just watch the 1985 film. If you like Yelchin & think this looks like your type of thing, give it a go. As a standalone film, it’s a fun vampire flick. I’d have liked more humor & it dragged to begin with but it did really pick up once Tennant came into the picture more about halfway through. Tennant & Yelchin are both very good and made a fairly mediocre vampire movie not feel like a complete waste of time. Meh. I’ve seen worse.

My Rating: 6/10

Seven Psychopaths (2012) Review

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Željko Ivanek

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this movie for a while as I really liked Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. Unfortunately, I ended up being a little disappointed as Seven Psychopaths is definitely not as good as In Bruges. There are several fantastic moments, though, and some great performances from the impressive cast. In fact, I’d say there are a few moments of pure brilliance & I’ll be sure to discuss the movie’s positives as well as the negatives. But, overall, I thought the main plot was a bit of a mess and far too convoluted.

In this movie, Colin Farrell’s character is a writer working on a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths. He hasn’t gotten very far with the script (I think he’d only managed to think up one out of the seven psychopaths if I remember correctly) so his friend (a dognapper played by Sam Rockwell) tries to help him out with the other six. Meanwhile, Rockwell (who kidnaps dogs for “boss” Christopher Walken) has managed to anger a real-life psychopath (Woody Harrelson) after kidnapping his beloved dog.

What’s unfortunate is that this overall dognapping story is the main part of the plot yet it’s the weakest thing about the movie. The main story is messy & feels too forced. Okay – part of this may somewhat be down to my dislike of Woody Harrelson. Aside from his “dumb guy” character in Cheers, I’ve never liked him in anything else. He just seemed very weak next to the likes of Walken and even Rockwell (who was fantastic in this). Colin Farrell was just his usual Colin Farrell self (I’m not a big fan of his either but he’s fine in this although his role could have been played by anyone).

The interesting thing about this movie, which I didn’t know beforehand, is that there are several other stories that get told throughout the film as ideas for further psychopathic characters are discussed. We witness these stories (such as the one with Tom Waits in the above photo) and, DAMN, these stories are good! I’d watch full movies of a few of these stories as they’re all far more interesting than the overall plot involving the dognapping & Woody Harrelson’s character. It reminded me a lot of Grindhouse & how the fake trailers looked so good that they ended up making movies of some of them (I didn’t watch Machete so I don’t know if that was any good but I really enjoyed Hobo With A Shotgun).


As well as these “stories within a story”, which I liked a hell of a lot, I really loved Christopher Walken & Sam Rockwell. I like Christopher Walken but he can be a little strange sometimes. I complained about him “phoning it in” in my review of Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. He plays the same sort of character far too often but, although he’s playing that sort of character once again here, he gives such a perfect performance. His final scene is especially awesome as were the scenes with his character’s wife (played by a woman named Linda Bright Clay, who appears to have been in very little else. Why?! She’s fantastic in this! Another one of this movie’s highlights). Walken’s & Clay’s characters were both fantastic, as was their story. Well done to McDonagh on writing their parts. 

Sam Rockwell was possibly the main highlight for me, though. At least, as far as the acting was concerned – my favorite thing was definitely the “stories within a story”. I have a post about Rockwell scheduled for tomorrow & I say the same thing that I’ll say now: I don’t think he’s really lucked out quite yet in getting that one “perfect role”. When he does, I think he’ll finally get the attention he deserves. This is definitely a defining role for him, however, and probably my second favorite performance of his. I’m starting to kind of finally see the reason he seems to have some pretty loyal fans. If you’re a fan of his but haven’t seen this movie for some reason, I highly recommend that you check it out. 

Summary:

Seven Psychopaths is an odd one. It’s so good at times and just plain confusing at other times. I’m afraid that it tries a little too hard to be cool. I think it wants to be like something made by Tarantino but, although the clever dialogue is there and there are some very rich characters, the story is even more convoluted than that in Pulp Fiction. I’m struggling with rating this one as I think it deserves a higher score than I’ll probably give it but I can’t ignore the fact that the main plot really didn’t hold my interest at all. But I’m in no way trying to talk people out of watching this one as I think parts of it are brilliant and the writing is far better than we get from most movies. I’d actually recommend this one as I think a lot of people reading this would like this movie quite a lot. If you like In Bruges or Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead or anything from Tarantino, you’ll definitely like this one as well. I guess I’d rather have a few moments of brilliance than a movie that’s mediocre the whole way through.

My Rating: 7/10

Epic (2013) Review

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Epic

Directed by Chris Wedge

Based on The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
by William Joyce

Starring Voice Actors:
Amanda Seyfried
Colin Farrell
Beyoncé Knowles
Josh Hutcherson
Christoph Waltz
Aziz Ansari
Chris O’Dowd
Pitbull
Jason Sudeikis
Steven Tyler

Music by Danny Elfman

Studio:
Blue Sky Studios
20th Century Fox Animation

Plot (courtesy of Wikipedia):

A girl named Mary Katherine (M.K), long separated from her father, Professor Bomba, visits him in his old house near a forest, where he lives with his dog, Ozzie. Bomba has long studied the artifacts of what he believes to be a group of tiny warriors who live in the forest and protect it. He often goes into the forest to look for them and has cameras everywhere, in hopes of confirming their existence. He is so involved with his work that he neglects M.K., resulting in her leaving and pasting a goodbye note to one of his monitors. As she is leaving, Ozzie knocks past her and runs into the woods. M.K. sets out to look for him. She comes upon a group of glowing, falling leaves. Catching one of them, she is suddenly shrunken. In her minuscule state, she discovers the group of warriors Bomba has studied, who are known as the Leafmen. Soon she is forced to assist them in a war against forces of rot known as the Boggans and their leader Mandrake, while trying to find out how to return home.

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My Opinion:

I won’t again go into my love for Pixar and how they make truly stunning films for people of all ages – I don’t see them as just “kid movies”. Studios other than Disney/Pixar, however, have yet to master keeping the adults as well as the kids entertained. Despicable Me (love it!) and Shrek (meh) have been a couple of the only non-Pixar movies that I think achieved this. Epic doesn’t even come close to “keeping the adults entertained too” so I’ll review this for what it is: a kid’s movie.

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Epic is a strange one because I think the story is a bit complicated and the fact that the main character is a teenage girl makes this movie feel like it’s aimed at kids (girls especially) aged 8-13 or so. But this doesn’t seem like the sort of movie that kids these sort of ages WANT to see these days. There are some okay characters for the much younger audience (the snail & the slug are fairly funny) but I think younger kids will be a bit confused by the plot. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure who this movie is aimed at but I know I was really bored. I saw this four days ago and I’m struggling to remember much about it in order to be able to write anything. This is one of those movies I’m going to completely forget about in a year.

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The movie takes quite a while to get going and the pacing of the entire thing was off. We see a lot of the teenage girl and her estranged father at the beginning as she comes to stay with and reconnect with him. It seemed like ages before we got to the bit where she finally sees the tiny Leafmen. Yet in that time they still didn’t manage to make you feel anything for the father & daughter and for their situation – they didn’t develop any sort of connection with each other. I thought the teenage girl also adjusted to suddenly being tiny and in the middle of this epic “tiny person battle” a little too quickly. Of course, there’s a hot teenage Leafman so, naturally, I’m sure that helped. 😉

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As I said, the slug and snail were fairly funny (not good Pixar-type funny but typical kid-movie funny) so they were probably the highlight of the film for me. I guess. I found the voices of Beyonce and especially Steven Tyler a bit distracting (but, hey, kids wouldn’t notice things like that). But it reminded me of how much I hated Steven Tyler’s voice suddenly being in Polar Express and totally throwing me out of that movie (not that I was too bothered as I didn’t like that one much anyway). The teenage girl is fine as the main character – I think young girls watching the movie will probably connect with her. The dad was a bit of a bumbling idiot. The teenage Leafman was fine and the older Leafman who’s in charge was fine – these characters and the “baddies” (and the slug and snail) help to make this a movie that boys should like too even though the main character is female. There are also a lot of battles as there’s this war of good vs evil going on so I don’t mean to make it sound like this is a girl’s movie – sometimes boys see a girl as the main character and think that makes something a girl’s movie.

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Summary:

Epic is a movie where the plot is a bit too complicated for the very young but the slightly older child audience it seems to be aimed at will probably not find much they’ll care about in the film. I think older girls will connect with the main teenage girl, younger boys will like the Leafmen, the battles & the fairly scary bad guys, and the very young will like the slug and the snail. The whole thing was pretty and the animation was good and all that but I don’t think any of that is going to matter to the adults in the audience who will be checking their watches and just enjoying a bit of peace while their kids are (hopefully!) quiet and sitting still for 1 hour and 42 minutes. Meh. It’s not horrible. But it’s not that good. It’s aimed at kids but I don’t think this rating is too unfair as I don’t think many kids will exactly consider this one of their all-time favorite films…

My Rating: 5.5/10

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For a slightly better recent film aimed at kids, I did enjoy The Croods a bit more. Review here: The Croods

**And for those disappointed that there are no “underwear” pictures in this post, the closest I can think of is a picture of the character voiced by Steven Tyler. He wears a robe the whole time. With nothing underneath. And fully open. Close enough??

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