REVIEW: DUMBO (2019)

Starring

Colin Farrell (Seven Psychopaths)
Nico Parker
Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
Eva Green (Sin City 2)
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Roshan Seth (spivs)
DeObia Oparei (Alien 3)
Joseph Gatt (pulse)
Sharon Rooney (Under The Skin)
Michael Buffer (Creed)

Eva Green in Dumbo (2019)In 1919, equestrian performer and World War I amputee Holt Farrier returns after the war to the Medici Brothers’ Circus, run by Max Medici. The circus has run into financial troubles and Medici has been forced to sell the circus’ horses after Holt’s wife and co-performer, Annie, died from the Spanish flu outbreak, so Medici reassigns Holt as the caretaker for the circus’ pregnant Asian elephant, “Mrs. Jumbo”. Mrs. Jumbo gives birth to a calf with unusually large ears and Medici orders Holt to hide the ears before allowing the public to see the calf. However, the calf accidentally reveals his ears in his debut performance in Joplin, Missouri, and the crowd mockingly names the calf “Dumbo” while pelting him with peanuts and other objects. Mrs. Jumbo, horrified and enraged by her son’s mistreatment, rampages into the ring, causing extensive damage and accidentally collapsing the big top, which results in the death of an abusive handler. Afterwards, to prevent a public relations problem, Medici resorts to selling Mrs. Jumbo. Holt’s son and daughter, Joe and Milly Farrier, comfort Dumbo and discover he can fly by flapping his ears. The children also discover that feathers are the key to Dumbo’s willingness to fly.Eva Green in Dumbo (2019)In another performance, Dumbo plays the role of a firefighter clown to put out a fire with water sprayed from his trunk, but the performance goes wrong and Dumbo is trapped on a high platform surrounded by flames. Milly delivers a feather to Dumbo, giving him the confidence to fly. The audience is astounded when Dumbo flies and word of his talent begins to spread. V. A. Vandevere, the entrepreneur and owner of a bohemian amusement park called Dreamland in New York City, approaches Medici and proposes a collaboration; Medici would become Vandevere’s partner and the Medici Brothers’ Circus’ troupe would be employed to perform at Dreamland.Colin Farrell, Finley Hobbins, and Nico Parker in Dumbo (2019)Later, Vandevere demands that Dumbo fly with French trapeze artist, Colette Marchant. Colette and Dumbo’s debut performance at Dreamland goes wrong with Dumbo nearly falling off a high platform leading to him trumpeting in alarm since there is no safety net. Dumbo hears his mother’s call in response and realizes that his mother is in an exhibit elsewhere in Dreamland. Dumbo flies out of the circus ring, reuniting with his mother, to the disappointment of the audience. Fearing that Mrs. Jumbo may become a distraction to him and ruin his reputation, Vandevere orders her to be terminated. Vandevere also fires all the Medici performers from Dreamland.Colin Farrell, Finley Hobbins, and Nico Parker in Dumbo (2019)When Holt and the rest of the Medici troupe learn that Vandevere intends to kill Dumbo’s mother and it’s no longer safe for the two elephants to live with them, they resolve to set both her and Dumbo free. The circus performers utilize their various talents to break Mrs. Jumbo out of her enclosure while Holt and Colette guide Dumbo to fly out of the circus. Vandevere attempts to stop them, but starts a fire triggered by the enraged mismanagement of Dreamland’s electricity system, which spreads and destroys the park. After Dumbo saves Holt and his family from the fire, Holt, Colette, the kids, and the troupe bring Dumbo and his mother to the harbor, where they board a ship back to their native home in India. Afterwards, the renamed Medici Family Circus is re-established and flourishes with Colette as the newest troupe member, Milly as host of a science lecture exhibit, and performers dressed as animals in line with the circus’s new policy of not using wild animals in captivity for entertainment (while it is implied that Vandevere was arrested and tried for misconduct). Meanwhile, Dumbo and his mother reunite with a herd of wild elephants who applaud their newest members as he flies with joy for their future to come.Dumbo (2019)Dumbo is probably the most visually stunning and incredibly realistic live-action character Disney was able to produce so far. This little elephant alone is worth the price of admission. His arc is way bigger and complex than the one in the original, which can either delight or disappoint you. To me, it not only worked, but it finished strong and way better than the original. It’s upsetting that the screenplay couldn’t accompany Burton’s impressive visual style, even if overwhelming at times, as well as the human characters who feel a bit detached from the actual story to tell. It’s still makes for good viewing.

REVIEW: BIRDMAN

Image result for BIRDMAN UK BLU RAY

CAST

Michael Keaton (Robocop 2014)
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Naomi Watts (Insurgent)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy)
Jeremy Shamos (Nurse Jackie)
Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion)
Merrit Weaver (New Girl)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Lindsay Duncan (About Time)

Riggan Thomson is a faded American actor best known for playing the superhero ‘Birdman’, decades ago in a series of films. He is often tormented by the mocking and critical inner-voice of Birdman and frequently visualizes himself performing feats of levitation and telekinesis. Riggan hopes to re-awaken his career by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway-production of a loosely based adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”
The adaptation is produced by Riggan’s best friend and lawyer Jake, and also stars Riggan’s girlfriend Laura, and Broadway debutant Lesley. Riggan’s daughter Sam, a recovering drug addict, serves as his assistant. During rehearsals, a light fixture falls onto Riggan’s co-star Ralph; Riggan tells Jake that he caused the accident so he could upgrade the cast. At Lesley’s suggestion, Riggan replaces Ralph with the brilliant but volatile method actor Mike Shiner, who is also Lesley’s boyfriend. The first previews are disastrous: Mike breaks character over the replacement of his gin with water and attempts to rape Lesley during a sex scene. Riggan is incensed by press coverage praising Mike’s performance in the show, but Jake encourages him to continue. When Riggan berates Sam for using cannabis, she tells him he is expendable and that his play is a vanity project.
During the final preview, Riggan sees Sam and Mike kissing — this further fuels his suspicion that Mike is a rival and potential threat. Riggan goes outside to take a smoke break wearing nothing but his underwear and a robe, and accidentally locks himself out of the theater with his robe stuck in the door, forcing him to walk in his underwear through Times Square to get back inside; amateur videos of the incident go viral on YouTube. After the final preview Riggan, still deeply shaken by the events of the last few days, meets the influential critic Tabitha Dickinson, who tells him she hates ignorant Hollywood celebrities who only pretend to be actors and promises to “kill” his play with a deprecating review. After leaving, Riggan gets drunk and faints on the street. The next day, as he walks back to the theater, his visual and auditory hallucinations intensify and he fully hallucinates an extended conversation with a now visible Birdman, who tries to convince him to make another Birdman film. Riggan visualizes himself flying through the streets of Manhattan before returning to the theater.
Prior to the opening night, and with his hallucinations temporarily subsiding, Riggan meets Sam, who shows him the viral video of him walking through Times Square in his underwear. Rather than faulting her father for this, she admires him for it and comes to see him as more human and finally more accessible to her needs as his daughter. On the opening night, before the final scene of the play, Riggan confesses to his former wife Sylvia that he attempted to drown himself in the ocean after she caught him having an affair several years before. He also tells her about the inner Birdman voice he constantly hears in his head, which she ignores. After Sylvia wishes him luck and leaves the room, Riggan, whose character in the play commits suicide, replaces his prop pistol with a real loaded gun and prepares to actually commit suicide in the closing scene of the play. As the performance reaches its final scene, Riggan shoots himself in the head on-stage. The play ends with a standing ovation from all in the audience except Tabitha, who abruptly leaves.
The next day in a hospital, Riggan is revealed to have botched his suicide, merely blowing off his nose, which has been surgically replaced overnight. Jake visits him in the hospital and reveals that Tabitha gave the play a rave-review, calling his suicide attempt “super-realism,” a new form of method acting. Sam visits Riggan and soon steps out for a moment. He walks alone to the adjoining bathroom in his hospital room where he crudely dismisses Birdman and, seeing some birds outside, climbs onto the window ledge. When Sam returns, Riggan has disappeared with the window left open. She looks down at the street, then slowly up to the sky and smiles.Whilst viewing ‘Birdman’, I spent the first hour of the film trying to decipher my emotions and opinions towards it, what I was watching was a weird, yet wonderful work of art. Truly though, ‘Birdman’ is a technical masterpiece. Michael Keaton has generally been undermined as an actor (despite a few notable roles as Batman or Beetlejuice) and has instead faced Hollywood picking more acclaimed and popular actors. In Birdman his performance is mesmerizing. Alejandro González Iñárritu has created a truly spectacular character study that arguably features one of the  strongest acting performances, alongside a well- executed script, booming soundtrack and a monumental achievement with cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki in which he attempts a Hitchcockian approach.  This is a true definition of a masterpiece.

REVIEW: BATMAN RETURNS

CAST
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Danny DeVito (Drowning Mona)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Stardust)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Michael Gough (Corpes Bride)
Andrew Bryniarski (7 Mummies)
Pat Hingle (Talladega Nights)
Vincent Schiavelli (American Yakuza 2)
Jan Hooks (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Paul Reubens (Mystery Men)
Michael Murphy (Rogue)
Cristi Conaway (Timecop TV)
Branscombe Richmond (The Scorpion King)
Diane Salinger (Ghost World)
Sean Whalen (Superstore)
Robert Gossett (Dark Angel)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Total Recall)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Tucker and Esther Cobblepot, an aristocratic couple, throw their deformed infant child in a river, feeling that Gotham City’s high society would not approve after witnessing their son kill their pet cat. However, a flock of penguins living in an abandoned zoo’s arctic exhibit connected to the sewers rescue and raise him. 33 years later, the child becomes The Penguin (Danny DeVito) and the ring master of the Red Triangle Circus Gang, who appear in Gotham City during the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and cause a riot. As the police and Batman (Michael Keaton) deal with the riot, one of the guests at the ceremony, a prominent businessman named Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), is kidnapped and taken to the Penguin, who desires to become a citizen of Gotham and blackmails Shreck into helping him by threatening to expose evidence of his corporate crimes.
Meanwhile, Shreck’s secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), accidentally finds out that the power plant which her employer wants to build will actually drain Gotham of its electricity. When Shreck confronts her after returning from his visit with Penguin, he pushes her out of a window to silence her but a series of curtains break her fall somewhat and a clutter of alley cats revive her by licking her wounds. Selina returns home, suffers a mental breakdown, and designs a black vinyl catsuit to become the costumed vigilante Catwoman.
Batman-Returns-940x460
The Penguin sends one of his costumed henchmen to kidnap the mayor’s baby while he “saves” him, becoming a hero to the people of Gotham. However, Bruce Wayne is suspicious of his true motives. After some time in the Hall of Records, the Penguin discovers that his parents are dead and his name is Oswald Cobblepot, though he has secretly been taking notes on the first-born sons that live in Gotham City. Meanwhile, Batman’s alter-ego, billionaire Bruce Wayne, is dealing with Shreck’s persistence in having his new power plant built. As both Bruce and the current mayor will not approve of the power plant, Shreck decides to pull strings and make Penguin the new mayor. To do this, Penguin has the Red Triangle Gang create a riot, causing the citizens to lose all faith in the mayor. During the riot, Catwoman vandalizes Max’s Department Store to gain revenge on him. When Batman and the Penguin confront each other, she intervenes just as the store blows up and she slips away. The Penguin escapes as Catwoman fights Batman and gets pushed off a rooftop, but she is saved when she lands in a dump-truck filled with kitty litter.
The Penguin and Catwoman meet and collaborate on a plan to kill Batman out of mutual hatred for the Caped Crusader, but Selina finds herself developing a romantic relationship with Bruce Wayne as the two of them start to spend time together. That night, Penguin and his gang kidnap the actress chosen to turn on the Gotham City Christmas tree lights known as the “Ice Princess”, and frame Batman by leaving one of his weapons on the scene. After a fight with Catwoman, Batman finds the Ice Princess on a rooftop where the Penguin releases a swarm of flying bats and makes her fall to her death, further incriminating Batman. As Penguin and Catwoman celebrate their victory, Penguin tries to make advances towards her, which she rejects. Angered, Penguin ends their alliance and causes her to fall into a greenhouse. Batman escapes to the Batmobile and discovers that Penguin’s henchmen have broken into it and installed a remote control device. The Penguin takes it on a devastating rampage, but Batman regains control and escapes death. He also manages to record part of the Penguin’s taunts, which are being transmitted to the screen on his dashboard.
The next day, the Penguin and Shreck are using Batman’s rampage to push for an impeachment of the mayor. Batman turns the situation around by jamming the signal and broadcasting the Penguin’s contemptuous outburst. Enraged, the Penguin takes his notes from the Hall of Records and orders the Red Triangle Gang to kidnap all the first-born sons of Gotham so that he can throw them to their deaths in the sewer like his own parents did to him, and he personally kidnaps Max Shreck as revenge for being manipulated. Batman saves all the children, forcing the Penguin to execute an alternate plan to destroy the entire city with his army of rocket-armed penguin commandos. The plan backfires when Batman lures the penguins back to the Penguin’s sewer base before confronting Penguin directly and knocking him into the sewer water from a great height.
Catwoman appears with her costume torn after the greenhouse crash, and again tries to kill Shreck, but Batman stops her and reveals himself as Bruce Wayne. She does the same as Selina. Shreck then shoots Batman, before shooting Selina four times. She survives all the shots, counting out how many of her nine lives she has left, and once Shreck runs out of bullets, she puts an electrical taser between their lips while grabbing an electrical cable. As Batman, who was wearing body armor, regains consciousness, a tremendous explosion is caused that kills Shreck but leaves no trace of Selina. As the dust settles, the Penguin rises from the water and tries one more time to kill Batman, but collapses from his injuries and dies. The emperor penguins hold a funeral procession for their dead master and drag his corpse back into the sewer water, his resting place.
Afterwards, Alfred (Michael Gough) drives Bruce home, but Bruce spots a shadow of Catwoman in the alley and has the car stopped so he can check. All he finds is a black cat trying to keep warm, and so Bruce takes her home with him as he exchanges Christmas wishes with Alfred. As they leave, the Bat-Signal lights up in the night sky as Catwoman, with her costume fixed, watches from afar.
Batman Returns remains the greatest cinematic comic book movie to date and one of Tim Burton’s most uniquely accomplished films

REVIEW: BATMAN (1989)

CAST

Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Jack Nicholson (The Shining)
Kim Basinger (Cellular)
Robert Wuhl (Police Squad)
Pat Hingle (Shaft)
Billy Dee Williams(Alien Intruder)
Michael Gough (Corpse Bride)
Jack Palance (Young Guns)
Tracey Walter (Conan The Destroyer)
Carl Chase (Alien 3
Jerry Hall (Freejack)

The mayor of Gotham City orders District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and Police Commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle) to increase police activity and combat crime in preparation for the city’s bicentennial. Reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) begin to investigate reports of a vigilante dubbed “Batman”, who is targeting the city’s criminals.  Mob boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance), who has already been targeted by Dent, discovers his mistress (Jerry Hall) is involved with his second-in-command, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson). With the help of corrupt police lieutenant Max Eckhardt (William Hootkins), Grissom sets up Napier to be murdered during a raid at the Axis Chemicals plant. During the ensuing shootout, Napier kills Eckhardt, after which Batman suddenly appears. The two struggle, and Napier is accidentally knocked into a vat of chemical waste. Batman flees, and Napier is presumed dead.

Batman is, in actuality, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), a billionaire industrialist who, as a child, witnessed his parents’ murder at the hands of a young psychopathic mugger. Bruce meets and falls for Vicki at a fundraiser, and the two begin a relationship. Meanwhile, Napier survives the accident, but is horribly disfigured with chalk-white skin, emerald-green hair and a permanent ruby-red grin. Already a sociopath, Napier is driven completely insane by his plight, he reinvents himself as “The Joker”, kills Grissom in revenge for his set-up, and usurps his criminal empire. In addition, the Joker seeks retaliation against Batman, whom he blames for his disfigurement. During his research for information about Batman, the Joker himself also falls for Vicki.

The Joker begins to terrorize the city, first by lacing hygiene products with a deadly chemical known as “Smilex”, which causes victims to laugh to death when used in certain combinations. The Joker then sets a trap at the Gotham Museum of Art for Vicki, and he and his henchmen vandalize works of art. Batman arrives and rescues Vicki, and the pair escape in the Batmobile. Batman gives information about Smilex to Vicki so she can warn the city via Gotham newspapers about the poisoned products.
batman-1
Bruce meets with Vicki at her apartment, prepared to tell her that he is Batman. They are interrupted by the Joker, who asks Bruce, “Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?” before shooting him. Bruce, who was wearing body armor, escapes, and recollects that the young mugger who killed his parents had asked him the same question; he realizes that the mugger was none other than the Joker himself. Vicki suddenly appears in the Batcave, having been let in by Bruce’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough). After avouching himself to Vicki, Bruce—as Batman—leaves to destroy the Axis Chemical plant. Meanwhile, the Joker lures the townspeople to a nighttime parade with a promise to give away $20 million in cash. When the citizens arrive, however, he attacks them with Smilex gas, spewing it from his giant parade balloons. Batman arrives on the scene and saves Gotham City from the attack using the Batwing. A mad Joker kills his friend Bob, then takes out a long gun and shoots at the Batwing, causing it to crash. Next, the Joker kidnaps Vicki and takes her to the top of a cathedral.Marvel_One-Shot_-_Agent_CarterBatman pursues the two, and at the top of the dusty edifice, he and the Joker confront each other in single combat. When the Joker attempts an escape via a helicopter, Batman grapples the Joker’s leg to a heavy stone sculpture, causing him to fall to his death. Commissioner Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal along with a note from Batman read by Harvey Dent, promising to defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again.A great Gothic interpretation of Batma. One of the all time greatest Batman adaptations ever.

REVIEW: BEETLEJUICE

CAST

Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Geena Davis (The Fly)
Winona Ryder (Star Trek)
Glenn Shadix (Hercules: TLJ)
Annie McEnroe (Wall Street)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Jeffrey Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Robert Goulet (Two Guys & A Girl)
Tony Cox (Bad Santa)
Jack Angel (A.I.)

Fun Halloween movies more often than not fall flat on their faces; I’d say that Beetlejuice is the best in years. The straightforward script by Michael McDowell (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Warren Skaaren (Batman ’89) posits Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin & Geena Davis) as the cute owners of a hilltop house in New England, who run afoul of “life-continuance issues.” As ghosts in the next world, they fail to absorb the wisdom in a thoughtfully provided Guidebook for the Dead, and are horrified when a New York family moves in and begins remodeling their happy home.
Charles (Jeffrey Jones) is a financial adviser taking a break from the strain. His wife Delia (Catherine O’Hara), an artist hungry for recognition, insists on turning the house into an avant-garde eyesore. Daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) dresses in widow’s black and luxuriates in morbid thoughts. The Maitlands make contact with Lydia, who is delighted until her parents attempt to co-opt the ghostly tenants as a moneymaking status symbol (this is the 1980s, after all). But Adam and Barbara have troubles too. Frustrated by the red tape they find in the afterlife — pictured as a welfare office manned by the acerbic Juno (Sylvia Sydney) — the Maitlands are so keen to evict the new owners that they summon the services of the demon Betelgeuse, aka Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), an obscene, unkempt imp who bills himself as a “bio-exorcist” — a Ghostbuster in reverse.
Filmmaker Tim Burton may work within a limited range of themes, but in his personal playroom there’s nobody better. Beetlejuice is crammed with visual invention and whimsical allusions. The Maitlands’ moment of crisis on a New England-style covered bridge is a lampoon of a Norman Rockwell “human interest” painting, complete with a “cute” dog. Delia is obsessed with annoyingly aggressive modern artworks. When possessed by spirits, one of her sculptures crawls like the brain-things in Fiend Without a Face and another engulfs Delia like an Iron Maiden (one of umpteen recurring motifs in Burton films). Charles’ attempt to relax through bird watching results in an hilariously black comedy throwaway gag worthy of Charles Addams.
The pushy small town real estate agent (Annie McEnroe) balances the script’s New York snobs, played by Robert Goulet and Dick Cavett. In his best film appearance, Cavett dismisses poor Delia as a consummate flake. Burton uses the gathering to pull off an uproarious musical number, using Harry Belafonte music to great effect. Glenn Shadix’s conniving art hustler Otho is forced to dance along to the calypso beat. As the ultimate humiliation, Beetlejuice throws Otho into a brightly colored leisure suit. Otho’s reaction proves that horror is where one finds it.
 The over-the-top Michael Keaton figures in only about of the third of the show, which is perfect judgment. Beetlejuice rattles on like Robin Williams, eats bugs and tries out the raunchier jokes. Running his bio-exorcism racket like a used car lot, Beetlejuice hangs out at the brothel in Adam’s miniature model of the town; to scare the humans he turns into a manic phantasmagoria of illusions. The character was such a success, it was incorporated into a theme show for the Universal Tour.
Winona Ryder is the first live-action representative of Burton’s ideal introvert’s girlfriend, initially represented as a portrait of the “Lost Lenore” in his animated short Vincent. Since then Burton’s dream girls, from the Corpse Bride to Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd have all had tiny chins and soulful eyes … hmm … Burton’s ego-surrogate Johnny Depp follows the same pattern. Like Natalie Portman in Mars Attacks!, Lydia suffers in the shadow of overbearing parents but blooms when confronted by real adventure — in this case her friendship with the dead. Even in the afterlife, the Maitlands continue to be caring individuals. This makes Beetlejuice less of a horror spoof than a charming addition to the ranks of Films Blanc.
Tim Burton’s arts ‘n’ crafts visual sense invests Beetlejuice with several arresting stylized environments. The yuppie heaven of the Maitland home gives way to Delia’s Manhattan tastes. The attic has Alec’s hobby world, the miniature map of the town. A hole in a brick wall leads to the expressionist bureaucracy of Juno’s welfare office, where an ordinary janitor mops the floors of Caligari-like corridors. Beetlejuice can slip between dimensions as long as he’s given a verbal passport, like Rumplestiltskin. Seen first in cheesy advertisements, Beetlejuice can inhabit Alec’s miniature as well as perform fantastic transformations. He appears as a gaudy carousel and as a giant demon-snake (courtesy of stop-motion animator Ted Rae). Turning the comedy to a darker tone, Beetlejuice resurrects Alec and Barbara as Dia de los muertos wedding ghouls. He summons a toad-like preacher from hell for his marriage to the dazed Lydia — who finds herself outfitted in a scarlet wedding dress. All of this great fun is at the expense of Fritz Lang, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, with free public service messages thrown in about smoking and Ecuadorian headshrinkers. In the spirit of playfulness, Burton leaves us with a literally uplifting calypso coda. Lydia spoke idly of suicide, but her happy times with the dead