Thursday, 10 July 2014

But will their be pink elephants? Disney to make live action Dumbo

My mum likes to tell about my habit as a young girl to sit in front of the TV with my bear and a packet of Quavers, repeatedly watching Dumbo. It was one of my favourite films as a child, and I still get nostalgic and sentimental when I watch it now.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I saw that Disney was planning a live action reboot of this 1941 classic. My first thought was, "oh no, is it gonna be like some lame Shaggy Dog version? With an obnoxiously cute elephant?" But of course no, it'll be CGI as everything is nowadays. Well, it does make sense, as it would look silly sticking rubber ears on a calf, but then again that's why the animated style was so apt to begin with.

Apparently, there is going to be a "unique family story that parallels Dumbo's story", which means, ergh, that there is going to be some kid that gets inspired by the plight of poor ostracised Jumbo Junior. I find this kind of weird, as it was the viewer seeing things from Dumbo's perspective in the original. The emotion was more powerful because of that, and I fear that we will have to see the film through the perspective of some annoying kid with silly human problems.

(And yes, I realise that Dumbo is full of antropomorphic characters.)

Maybe the worst piece of news to come out of this is that the film is being written by Ehren Kruger, the writer of some of the most painful films in cinema history, the Transformers series (look forward to our review of the latest film, Age of Extinction, which will be out on Tuesday). Do I really need to spell out what is bad with the Transformer films? They're achingly long, deathly dull and rely too much on nonsensical action (I appreciate that alot of this is the blame of a certain Micheal Bay as well). I really don't want a drawn out saga on the trials and tribulations of a boy and his pet elephant.

Disney of course is overly excited about "re-imaging" all of it's older classics, with Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast all in pre-production. Of course, their other live action re-imaginings such as Maleficent and the Tim Burton directed Alice in Wonderland went on to make lots and lots and lots of money (Alice with over a billion dollars just by itself). I felt these films where deeply flawed and boring, relying on radical changes in plot (that make no sense) and big name actors in order to bring in audiences.

I find it sad that Disney has decided to butcher it's iconic back catalogue in order to bring in new audiences. It is true however that many kids (and I'm speaking especially of my own niece and nephew) find these old hand animated films slightly weird. The archaic animation and voice acting, as well as the brilliant but very much of their time musical numbers, just seem too dusty, like reading an old book whose text is too small and bleeds together. Maybe Disney feels that their old style of animating is too distracting, leading them to announce that they no longer intend to work in 2D. Is this their way of getting a back catalogue out to younger viewers? Or just cleverly playing on the adults familiarity and combining it with children's love of shiny things?

Either way, this film does not inspire confidence in me. Cynical film making, along with boring screen writing and humans in an animal movie makes me physically shudder at the thought of the potential damage they'll do to one of my favourite childhood films.

I'd like to make a suggestion though. If they need an elephant to model Dumbo after, can they model it after this one.



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