PERIOD FILM Ford v Ferrari
Production Designer: François Audouy The Irishman
Production Designer: Bob Shaw Jojo Rabbit
Production Designer: Ra Vincent Joker
Production Designer: Mark Friedberg 1917
Production Designer: Dennis Gassner Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Production Designer: Barbara Ling
FANTASY FILM Ad Astra
Production Designer: Kevin Thompson Aladdin
Production Designer: Gemma Jackson Avengers: Endgame
Production Designer: Charles Wood Dumbo
Production Designer: Rick Heinrichs Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Production Designer: Patrick Tatopoulos Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Production Designers: Rick Carter, Kevin Jenkins
CONTEMPORARY FILM A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Production Designer: Jade Healy John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Production Designer: Kevin Kavanaugh Knives Out
Production Designer: David Crank Parasite
Production Designer: Lee Ha-Jun Us
Production Designer: Ruth De Jong
4. ANIMATED FILM Abominable
Production Designer: Max Boas Frozen II
Production Designer: Michael Giaimo How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Production Designer: Pierre-Olivier Vincent The Lion King
Production Designer: James Chinlund Toy Story 4
Production Designer: Bob Pauley
For those of you trying to perfect your Oscar nominations before they’re announced in January, here are the 20 semi-finalists for the Best Visual Effects Oscar! So, if you were planning on predicting a nomination for Godzilla or Shazam!, drop them from your list because they didn’t make it. Instead, the nominees will come from the list below:
Tim Burton’s remake of Dumbo actually wasn’t that bad.
I know! I’m as shocked as anyone. Usually, I’m against remakes on general principle and I’m certainly not a fan of the current trend of doing live-action versions of classic animated films. (There’s a reason why I haven’t seen the new The Lion King.) Dumbo is one of my favorites of the old Disney films, one that’s always brought tears to my mismatched eyes so I was naturally predisposed to be critical of the remake. Add to that, I’m not particularly a huge fan of Tim Burton, a director who too often seems to be coasting on his reputation for being a visionary as opposed to actually being one.
And yet, I have to admit that I enjoyed this new version of Dumbo. To call it a remake is actually a mistake. It’s a reimagining, as I suppose any live action remake of an animated film about a flying elephant, a talking mouse, and a group of sarcastic crows would have to be. So, the crows are gone, which is understandable as I doubt you could get away with a bird named “Jim Crow” today. And sadly, Timothy the Mouse is gone. He’s been replaced by several human characters, including Colin Farrell as a one-armed, former equestrian, Eva Green as a French trapeze artist, and Danny DeVito as the rough-around-the-edges but good-hearted ringmaster. However, Dumbo’s still present and he’s still got the big ears. He can still fly, as long as he’s holding a feather.
Dumbo’s only a CGI elephant but he’s still adorable. Of course, I should be honest that I’ve always loved elephants. I even rode one at Scarborough Fair once! It was like a totally bumpy and somewhat uncomfortable ride but, at the same time, it was also totally cool because I was on top of an elephant! The other thing I love about elephants is that elephants form real families. They love each other. They look out for each other. They mourn their dead, which is one of many reasons why ivory poachers are some of the worst people in the world. Elephants may not fly but there’s a sweetness to them that makes the story of Dumbo and his mother extra poignant, regardless of whether it’s animated, CGI, or live-action. Anyway, the remake’s version of Dumbo is absolutely lovable, from the minute he reveals his ears to the triumphant moment when he soars through the circus tent.
As a director, Tim Burton has always struggled with pacing. Watching his films, you always dread the inevitable moment when he gets distracted by a red herring or a superfluous storyline because you know that, once it happens, the entire film is going to go off the rails. Dumbo starts out slowly and it seems like forever before the baby elephant actually shows up. Fortunately, once Dumbo does show up, Burton’s direction becomes much more focused. The story stops meandering and, for once, Burton actually manages to maintain some sense of narrative momentum.
Visually, the film’s a feast for the eyes. Even though it’s a live-action film, the sets and the costumes are all flamboyantly and colorfully over-the-top, giving the film the feeling of being a child’s imagination come to life. I mean, when you’re making a film about a flying elephant, there’s no point in trying to go for gritty realism. While the film does mention some real-world tragedies — Farrell lost his arm in World War I and his wife to Spanish Flu — Burton plays up the fantasy elements of the story. He’s helped by Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton who both give cartoonishly broad performances. Fortunately, they’re both good enough actors that they can get away with it.
So, the live-action reimagining of Dumbo is not that bad. It has its slow spots and it really can’t match the emotional power of the original animated version. But, with all that taken into consideration, it’s still an undeniably entertaining two hours.
Lisa asked me to do a round-up of all the trailer that were released this week and the first rule of working at Through the Shattered Lens is that when Lisa asks you to do something, you do it.
To start things off, here’s the trailer that everyone was talking about this week. Tim Burton’s live action version of Dumbo looks like it could be something special. I’ve seen a horse fly. I’ve seen a dragon fly. I’ve seen a house fly. And now, on March 29th, 2019, I’ll finally see an elephant fly!
In this next trailer, Benedict Cumberbatch is The Grinch! On November 9th, The Grinch’s heart will grow by three sizes. Hopefully, a cardiologist will be on duty.
Unfriended: Dark Web is either a horror sequel or an extended LifeLock commercial. Unfriended: Dark Web will be infecting a screen near you on July 20th.
Based on the novel by Sarah Waters and directed by Lenny (Room) Abrahamson, The Little Stranger will be visiting theaters on August 31st.
The Nun is being advertised as “the darkest chapter in The Conjuring Universe,” which is apparently now a thing just like the MCU and the DCEU. Say a prayer for us all because The Nun will be hitting screens on September 7th.
If you liked the trailer for The Nun, you might want to go through The Devil’s Doorway with IFC Midnight on July 13th.
If you survive stepping through The Devil’s Doorway, consider pledging to The Row on July 27th.
And finally, coming to DVD soon, It Came From The Desert!