Beginning 2020 by watching live-action Dolittle, directed by Stephen Gaghan, is a pleasant way to begin any film buffs’ year. Robert Downey Jr. as protagonist Dr Dolittle is joined by several other well-known actors such as Antonio Banderas (Rassouli: The King of the pirates, an enemy Dolittle encounters on the ‘perilous journey’), Jessie Buckley (Queen Victoria), Harry Collett (Tommy Stubbins). A few of Dolittle’s furry family are played by the likes of Emma Thompson (Polynesia: a Dr Dolittle’s trustee and wise macaw), Rami Malek (Chee- Chee: soft-hearted and frightened gorilla), Selena Gomez (Betsy: a helpful giraffe), Tom Holland (Dr Dolittle’s most loyal dog and, who also dons a swish pair of glasses) and a whole lot more.
The film is dated back to 19th-century England during the reign of Queen Victoria. Dr John Dolittle resides within the walls of a gorgeous manor that had been sanctioned by the Queen herself, surrounded by lush greenery, and his family of only exotic animals. Upon receiving the news that the Queen has fallen ill, the doctor, along with his friends and a newly introduced assistant in Tommy, must embark on an enthralling journey to a mysterious island to find the cure.
The visual effects and CGI were the elements which stole the show; the film encapsulated the advancement of technology in the 21st-century, while the dialogue and jokes from each character were rather entertaining. The Victorian-styled costumes, hair and makeup, vibrant and colourful backgrounds of greenery with animals of different hues were impeccable, brightening the entire movie and ensuring your eyes stay glued to the screen for the entirety of its runtime.
There were a plethora of underlying messages brought to the forefront throughout the movie, the most prominent of which would be the ‘importance of treating animals with kindness and respect’ and not as though they are inferior to humans. The message of ‘love’ sparks out now and then briefly highlighting the doctors’ relationship with Lily Dolittle (Kasia Smutniak), simultaneously contrasted with the message of ‘letting go of the past’, the importance of trust and the building of friendship throws light on a rather significant implication that friends need not solely be mankind; they instead come in all shapes, sizes, and forms.
While the film had several of these perfect moments to bag while watching, it definitely feels a one-time watch. Sure, the mystery aspect wears off after the first viewing, however, during the film, there are scenes where things get slightly dull. Dolittle’s reportedly ‘Welsh accent’ does sound forced, making you want to cringe at some of the corny dialogues.
Dolittle is the perfect film if you would like a breather from stress or if you would like an excuse to go out with friends or family to bust some time out; it is a film that will make you anxious and force you to the edge of your seat, yet will also visually tranquillize you.
A tiny tip to conclude: wait until the VERY end as there are TWO post-credit scenes that you don’t want to miss.
Michelle Almeida is a screen contributor at Forge Press.
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