Our movie critic, Paul McGuire Grimes of Paul’s Trip to the Movies gives us his impressions of four Disney movies.
DUMBO (in theaters)
The Medici Brothers Circus is struggling to bring in a crowd and make a profit. World War I vet Holt Farrier returns home to join his kids under the big top but learns his act is in limbo as his prized horses have been sold off. A new baby elephant with unusually large ears is at first mocked and teased by ringmaster Max Medici but turns to Holt and Holt’s two kids to train him. Holt’s daughter loves science experiments and learns by accident that this baby elephant can fly thanks to his floppy ears and the use of a feather. The kids train him to be the star of the show. There are a few hiccups at first, hence his nickname Dumbo, yet his gift of flight along with his adorable presence bring in audiences from far and near. He catches the eye of V.A. Vandervere, a slick business man who sees great potential for Dumbo. Max sells his circus but puts too much trust in Vandervere’s slick operations. He’s a man who cannot be trusted and has alternative motives for wanting to showcase Dumbo.
-Starring: Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Michael Keaton
-You may remember that Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito both starred in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Here they get to do a little role reversal with Keaton playing the token villain character. Both of them play into their “ringmaster” and “Disney villain” character tropes without a lot of originality, but it didn’t completely bother me at the same time.
-Latest in Disney’s string of live action remakes of their animated classics. This film can introduce a whole new younger generation to Dumbo who haven’t seen the 1941 original.
-Directed by Tim Burton and marks a return to the Burton that I love and respect. He’s not trying to rely on campy Johnny Depp performances or over-blown CGI. He always finds the heart and humanity for his misunderstood central characters who need that extra love which makes him a perfect fit to bring Dumbo to the big screen. He finds that individual beauty in the oddity that’s been missing in his recent films.
-The CGI to bring Dumbo to life is exquisite. He always looks so life-like with the personality and innocence brought to the character.
-There are a few throw backs to the original with a new version of the song “Baby Mine,” and I loved how they brought back the scary pink elephants.
-Burton reunites with composer Danny Elfman who’s score finds the wonder and awe that was once synonymous with the circus. The circus scenes make you feel like a kid again.
-Sweet and endearing nature to it. Families will love it but should be warned there are scenes of peril that could need a warning ahead of time.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Dumbo is filled with whimsy, magic, and adventure.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
MARY POPPINS RETURNS (home release)
Mary Poppins is back in an all-new adventure thanks to Disney and director Rob Marshall. This new film takes place a couple of decades after the original one, and Michael and Jane Banks are all grown up. Michael is a widower with three kids. He’s facing a financial crisis and is told by the bank that they will repossess their childhood home if he can’t come up with the payments. It’s up to Mary Poppins and her friend Jack the lamplighter to come save the day.
-Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters
-Written/Directed/Choreographed by Rob Marshall who’s no stranger to movie musicals after directing Chicago, Nine, and Into the Woods
-Felt right back on Cherry Tree Lane thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s opening number. Warm and cozy feeling full of nostalgia
-Go in with an open mind. This is a new Mary Poppins adventure. You can’t replicate 50 years of watching the original and apply that right away with this movie.
-New score composed by Marc Shaiman in consultation with original composer Richard Sherman, so the music has that same tone and feel. You’ll hear some of the original themes in the overture
-Speaking of the music, every number takes you back to the old MGM Hollywood musicals full of spectacle and high production quality, including the show-stopping 11:00 number “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”
-Mix of live action, modern day CGI effects, and it once again uses the 2D animation that many of us grew up with in the original Mary Poppins and other Disney animated films like Pete’s Dragon or Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
-Emily Blunt is practically perfect in every way as Mary capturing that sassy attitude we love about her.
ALADDIN (first look, initial reactions to trailer)
-Starring: Naomi Scott (Jasmine), Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Will Smith (Genie), Marwan Kenzari (Jafar), and Alan Tudyk (voice of Iago)
-Directed by Guy Ritchie, who is best known for the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movies, Snatch, and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He’s an interesting choice as he’s best known for hard-R rated action films and has never done a family movie before.
-It’s a risky gamble, but one that I appreciate, with having lesser-known actors as Aladdin and Jasmine. They both have credits to their name but this will certainly make them household names if they can carry these two beloved characters. I like that Disney is staying culturally appropriate with the casting.
-The biggest star of the film is Will Smith taking over the role of the Genie from Robin Williams. By the looks of the trailer, he’s definitely making it 100% pure Will Smith instead of copying the many personalities that Robin Williams brought to the role.
-Will have all of the music we know and love like “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me” Naomi Scott’s singing voice as Jasmine has that sweet Disney princess sound to it.
Release date: May 24, 2019
THE LION KING (first look, initial reactions to trailer)
-Starring: Donald Glover (Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Beyonce (Nala), Billy Eichner (Timon), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), John Oliver (Zazu), Chiewetel Ejiofor (Scar)
-The casting is BRILLIANT as I can already hear all of these fantastic actors in these parts. Donald Glover will make for a great Simba, and I love that James Earl Jones is coming back to voice Mufasa. He’s the only original cast-member to voice their role again.
-Directed by Jon Favreau with the same intricate life-like animation that he used for The Jungle Book remake a couple of years ago.
-While it’s thought of as a “live action remake” it’s essentially a CGI remake of the 2D animation along with some motion capture as they aren’t using real animals.
-The first trailer for the remake is a shot by shot comparison of the animated film’s trailer. I’m not sure if that was purely for the trailer to get audiences excited or if that will be consistently used throughout the movie.
-Will contain some of the classic songs we know and love from Elton John and Tim Rice. I cannot wait to hear Beyonce sing “Shadowlands” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” They are also writing a new song for the end credits as well.
Release Date: July 27, 2019