review by Bobby Blakey
Over the last few years Disney has been bringing some of their animated classics to life with live action remakes. There have been a couple of stumbles, but for the most part they have been delivering the goods with films like Beauty and the Beast, Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon. Now visionary director Tim Burton is stepping into the mix with his take on the classic Dumbo starring Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Finley Hobbins, Nico Parker, Michael Keaton, Eva Green and Alan Arkin. Can Burton bring his old school magic to this classic story and make it work or will it fail to lift off the ground?
Dumbo follows circus owner Max Medici enlists former star Holt Farrier and his children Milly and Joe to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere, who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant, until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets. I am always worried when someone brings a cartoon to the real world, but Disney has had some success of late so going into this one I had some bigger hopes and I was not disappointed.
I love all things Burton and fully believe that even bad Burton is better than most things out there. Here it felt like vintage Burton with hints to his Batman and Big fish stuff in tone while doing a great job at capturing the magic of the original cartoon. The 1941 classic is only a little over an hour long so to transfer it into a bigger film they obviously had to change up the story a bit and made a smart decision to also do away with any of the talking animals aspect. This created a unique take on the story while bringing a
more ground element within this magical story. All the elements of the original are here including the mouse in uniform, dancing pink elephants and of course Dumbo himself but in a new fresh way that worked for me to perfection.
Everyone in the cast were great and looked to be having a great time. I am a huge Colin Farrell fan and was already glad to see him in this but he brought some great emotion and passion to his character who has kind lost his way. DeVito was great and perfectly cast as the owner and ring leader of the circus. It felt like a Batman Returns reunion with the addition of Michael Keaton who I love as well. His character was the only one that seemed a bit off to me, but I think it was by design. He is over the top at times and while it’s fun to watch didn’t always fit with the rest of the story for me.
The most important thing here for this entire film to work is obviously Dumbo himself and the choice to place the animals in a more realistic way was perfect. Despite being a CG character he has so much personality and you cannot help but fall in love with those big blue eyes. In the end I really loved this movie that not only captured the spirit of the original film but also brought us some vintage Burton making it all the more perfect.
In addition to this film it features bonus content including deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes and more. Join the traveling circus and grab your copy of Dumbo available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Disney Home Entertainment.