Welcome Back To Cinematic Immunity
I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying being free from the constraints of my former viewing life — there is nothing like being untethered from the streaming services.
I’m now free to compare and contrast certain movies, if not by design then simply because I can watch them in quick succession.
Today we’ll look at a couple of Disney remakes released this year, mere months apart; one surely designed to be a cash-grab and one for which I’m not sure of any reasoning.
In general, the recent Disney cash-grabs make me sick. They’re shameless at best, and a waste of time at worst. Yet, we should always keep an open mind and an open heart.
Let’s get to it!
I can’t imagine why this movie was made at all, but I’m glad that it was. It’s wonderful, well made and with a ton of heart, and it’s enjoyable for adults and kids alike.
In contrast to the obvious benefit of remaking The Lion King, remaking Dumbo, especially in this fashion, is something of a mystery to me. Disney didn’t go for the obvious cutesy-talking-animal bullseye, instead opting to let director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger create an honest story and a rich world into which a small miracle stumbles, in the form of a baby elephant with comically huge ears.
Before you clench your ass, let me preface this by saying that in no way is this movie as good as, but it is in a small way a sort of next-gen E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
The story is about a couple of kids, missing one parent and trying to relate to one hurting parent, and the unexpected arrival that they must learn to live with and protect.
The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and each actor seems invested in their role, especially Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, and the always great Michael Keaton. Additionally, the CGI is fantastic. Beyond being photorealistic, it’s cartoony enough to be endearing.
Burton’s trademark weirdness is also held in check, which is a plus in my opinion. Contrast that with his previous Disney remake effort, the strange and boring Alice in Wonderland.
There is a bit of preaching about female empowerment and also animal freedom, but overall the movie is a sweet, simple tale that is wonderfully told. I very highly recommend it, especially if you’ve got kiddos.
The Lion King
Here’s the obvious cash-grab, although this movie must’ve cost a damn fortune to make.
The entire movie is simply gorgeous. The animals aren’t 100% believable, but this isn’t a BBC nature program narrated by David Attenborough. Within the first twenty minutes you’ll be completely invested in the lions as characters, not just as cool-looking CGI creations.
I was really disappointed with director Jon Favreau’s previous Disney remake, The Jungle Book, because it almost completely disregarded the musical aspect. Without that, I simply didn’t care to see photorealistic animals walking and talking. I can watch Revenge of the Sith to see that.
This time out, Favreau and Disney wisely leave much of the music intact, updating it with more realistic animal movement and natural settings. Simba and Nala leap, run, and cavort like two real lion cubs at a watering hole while belting out I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, while Scar stalks around a charred landscape as he growls out Be Prepared.
Standout performances include James Earl Jones and Chiwetel Ejiofor, though each stands out for different reasons: Jones sounds as tired as he did as Vader in Rogue One, while Ejiofor is an excellent replacement for Jeremy Irons as Scar.
A bit of on-the-nose preaching about how the best leaders are completely compassionate and also how we must stand up to bullies finds its way into the script, but it’s not overwrought.
I still don’t appreciate the copy/paste aspect of this one, especially as Dumbo was such a wonderful surprise story-wise, but I didn’t hate it. I recommend waiting for home video for The Lion King, unless your kids are bugging you to go see it, in which case you could do worse for an afternoon at the theater.
Thanks for reading.
Adiós amigos y amiguitas!