I have been asked to arrange a collection of words in some sense of order, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to express myself in an eloquent manner or if I’m going to write such a heap of steaming shambles that Jason never asks me for written correspondence ever again. For those that don’t know, I am Christopher Love or DeadbeatpunK, sometimes both. Podcaster, contrarian, and one of those people who find themselves funnier than everyone else does.
I thought this would be another great medium for having a moan about some small inconvenience that is currently rattling around the cavity between my comically shaped ears. The current bee in my bonnet is remakes. I am no stranger to nostalgia, and usually a remake gets me giddy with glee. Just recently, Nintendo decided to unveil a remake of the Super Mario RPG, a game I pined over when it was covered in Super Play many, many moons ago. Sadly, it never made it to our shores in PAL land until the Wii’s virtual console. I just mention this to give emphasis that I’m not completely against remakes as a whole. They have a time and a place. That place is usually a new generation of game consoles.
The remakes that are bringing my bladder contents to the boil are the live-action remakes of animated features. Not even classic animations—some recent examples like Moana feel far too recent for the remake treatment; it still looks great, and nothing about the story has aged poorly. Perhaps the animated feature failed to live up to the original creative vision in a way that live action will? I can recall seeing trailers for the “live action remake” of The Jungle Book, mostly because it was CGI, and I possess a nasty streak of pedantry over the smallest issues.
One of my favourite movies growing up was Dumbo, so much so that I could probably write a convincing piece that details how Dumbo contains all the ingredients to discover the true meaning of life.
This is a movie that was released in 1941. I was born a bit after 1941, but this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the movie at all. That little VHS was worn thin from constant viewing. Doing a bit of googling reveals that this must have been part of the Walt Disney Classics. Without detailing the full rabbit hole I’ve just been down, these were cinema-only releases, barring the rare TV broadcast, that were brought to home media in the mid-eighties. What I was trying to find information on was if they had been remastered or touched up for the home media market. Not at this time, as far as I can tell. Disney buffs, please correct me if that’s off the mark. It would have some understandable edits in the future. The point I was driving for here is that I enjoyed the product. Despite its age, I never once threw my Rusk biscuit at the screen out of sheer rage at being shown an antiquated form of media. I was too busy filing away the lifelong emotional impact of seeing Dumbo’s Mum’s trunk behind bars. Instilling a lifelong hatred of authority figures and ginger children in the process.
Now, it has been remastered many times in various formats. I think the most recent on the market is a 70th anniversary Blu-Ray, which is a decade old at this point. It’s well overdue for a remake, obviously. We can enjoy this classic in 4K with Dolby 7.1 remastered audio; we truly live in a golden age. Except that isn’t enough; we all needed a live-action (CGI) remake from the brilliant mind that brought us Beetlejuice or the below-average mind that churned out The Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and of course, The Planet of the Apes remakes. How could it possibly go wrong? I don’t think Timmy watched the original motion picture or really got a handle on what made it so great. Much like with the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we get told a side story that dilutes the essence of the original tale.
The charming animation that has stood the test of time was replaced with computer-generated visuals that were outdated by the time the movie was released. It was like meeting a long-lost uncle again for the first time and trying to hide your reaction to his cheap cosmetic surgery when I first saw Casey, the little circus train that thought he could. Yes, even the train is CGI.
For the sake of integrity, science, or some strange case of masochism. I parked myself down to watch Tim Burton’s reimagining of the 1941 classic. What can I say? I had no desire to have my childhood urinated upon when it was released. But it’s on Disney+, and I’m on podcast holiday. My time is my own to waste, and waste it I did.
The story of Dumbo, the little outcast who was shunned and mocked by society until he was befriended by someone who should have been considered an enemy, With his friends’ support, he finally started believing in himself. Once he had the confidence to be true to himself, with the support of kind-hearted strangers, he was able to literally soar above everyone who tried to keep him down. The very thing that they tried to mock him for was what made him unique. He used what set him apart from everyone else to win back everything that was stripped away from him. Obviously, this story would have to be heavily adapted. Those story beats wouldn’t fly with a modern audience . . . No, I am better than that!
Disgustingly lazy pun.
Safe to say I didn’t like Burton’s remake, a strange reunion of sorts of Burton’s Batman. Not even DeVito or Keaton could sneak some charm into this affair. The entire time I watched it, I had one thought: I could be watching the original right now. I didn’t give a flying Baby Elephant about a one-armed Colin Farrell or his kids. I wanted my talking mouse and stereotypically racist crows. . . okay, maybe some changes were necessary for a modern market. I hope we look back on Farrell’s American accent with the same disgust we hold for the crows in years to come.
One plot point included Dumbo being stolen by a carbon copy of Walt Disney who wants to exploit the little mutant for financial gain, which is a bit on the nose. Even for me. I can only assume Burton has a really specific sexual fetish for wanting to see Eva Green straddle a badly animated baby elephant. It’s the only logical reason for that awkward-looking and incredibly unnecessary plot point.
The original Dumbo was only about an hour long. Definitely didn’t overstay its welcome. Understandably, you would need to fluff up that running time for the two-hour market we find ourselves in. But this could have been achieved in a myriad of different ways. Circus is being sold to the mafia, a runaway train, a camel born with massive teeth that it could surf with. The only limit is imagination, something this adaptation simply doesn’t have.
Perhaps it’s the attachment to the original source material. Most impotent male rage you see online can be traced back to the attack on some cherished childhood intellectual property. We need to defend the faceless corporations and products that gave us such joy as barely formed humans. Looking at this product without the crying man’s child’s emotional attachment, this still didn’t need to exist. In business, there will always be a form of supply and demand. Looking at the box office and critical reception, there was a much higher level of supply than demand. I wanted to hide behind Tim Burton’s car and hit him with a brick after watching this.
Hopefully, this doesn’t happen around publishing time. It’ll be difficult to prove my innocence.
There have been many misfires with the Disney remakes: Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, Aladdin, Peter Pan and Wendy, and The Lion King. There actually seems to be a common theme where people show their kids the original after the remake, just to prove they’re not complete idiots to their offspring. “The originals were brilliant, honest!”. Disney is robbing parents of validation from their spawn. It’s hard to picture a future where one of these children grows up to hold the Dumbo remake in the same lofty regard as I would the original. Most likely because they’ll be fighting mutant hybrids that are controlled by the ChatGPT AI Hive Mind. Well, that and because it isn’t very good.
Enough kicking Disney; they’re not the real reason this issue has been annoying me. Recently, there has been news that Dreamworks will be filming in my neck of the woods over the summer.
They’re working on a live-action remake that will mostly be CGI of How to Train Your Dragon. Which is one of my favourite movies, animated or otherwise. I think it’s beautiful. Both to watch and for the story it tells. For anybody unfamiliar, the story revolves around Hiccup, the son of a viking chieftain, who feels inadequate in every regard. He’s small, he’s sensitive, and would rather create than destroy. All terrible qualities for a Viking. If you haven’t watched this classic, watch it; it’s the greatest story of acceptance of ourselves and others. Hiccup only finds happiness and purpose when he is true to himself and follows his heart. I may also simply be a sucker for flying scenes. Porco Rosso and Dumbo are held in similarly high regard.
I hope I haven’t cursed a live-action Porco Rosso remake into existence.
I was able to watch and resonate with How to Train Your Dragon as an adult. A physically mature human at the very least. I can’t talk about my intellectual or emotional age on this collection of angry thoughts about animation that is primarily geared towards children. I can still watch animated features without attacking them with reckless abandon. Recently animated features like Into The Spiderverse, Puss in Boots, or Wolfwalkers still hit their mark. I had thought perhaps I had simply outgrown animation, but that’s definitely not it. Thankfully, I’ve never lost my love for animated productions and continue to take great delight in scaring parents and children by attending screenings. At least we can still get our fill of modern classics elsewhere.
I never got the chance to catch How to Train Your Dragon on the big screen, so a re-release would go down a treat. I’ve heard from other moviegoers that it is one of the few movies that actually benefited from being in 3D. Once again, thanks to the flying scenes. A re-release at the cinema is all it would take for me to buy a ticket. I do feel that these remakes are a terrible waste of resources, especially for Disney. Between them and Pixar, their animated output isn’t the powerhouse it once was. Perhaps it isn’t a major focus when you have Marvel and Star Wars providing turnkey profit regardless of critical reception. But they made up a large portion of my favourite animations growing up. It’s a shame they aren’t still a staple in my visionary diet.
Perhaps this rant is a waste of time, and the new How to Train Your Dragon remake is going to be so astounding that we will never need to watch the animated features again. Aye, I’ll put money down on that being the case. Nico Parker is returning from Dumbo to star as Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon. This could be the greatest redemption arc in recent cinematic history.
What an incredibly tenuous connection! I’ve barely made the previous ramblings interconnect in the thinnest, weakest of manners.
Go on, Punk, you know what you’re doing!!
The host of the WTFDYW podcast. Every week DeadbeatpunK asks a guest what the f*** do they want, and discuss a range of subjects from video games to internet spoilers, but its mostly video games.
You can also read DeadbeatpunK’s words on the Pure Dead Gaming website puredeadgaming.com