This weekend Disney’s launches their newest live action, Tim Burton directed film, Dumbo. Based on the very well-known 1941 animated film, Dumbo tells the story of a baby elephant born with abnormally large ears that ridiculed by everyone in the circus, however, manages to overcome his deformity due to his large ears giving him the ability to fly.
This new iteration of Dumbo falls in a long line of Disney live-action makeovers such as The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Maleficent, and the soon to be released The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mulan.
For the first half-hour to forty five minutes the film is par for the course. Burton reintroduces characters known to the audience from the animated film, and acquaints us with newly introduced characters played by Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, and Finley Hobbins.
However, after that the entire movie switches over to a version of what can only be described as Dumbo II. If you’ve never heard of Dumbo II, that’s because it has never been made. Burton takes this opportunity to make the mythology of Dumbo all his own and it doesn’t exactly work. Especially Michael Keaton’s character V.A. Vandevere, who is more cartoonish than the 1941 film. He is a basic Disney Richie Rich screen villain – shadowy lair and all.
Dany DeVito’s character, Max Medici, is the most engaging character in the whole movie. Which is a shame when he is pushed to a background role once the second half of the movie kicks in.
The CGI isn’t too bad. However, you can absolutely tell that most of the movie is shot with a green screen backdrop and that almost none of the animals are real. But it isn’t the worst CGI in recent memory, and it’s definitely not the worst that Burton has created. However, it’s passing CGI only because of how dark the lighting is for the entire movie. Movie making trick people – it’s easy to hide bad CGI when there isn’t much light in the shots. And the entire movie is dark.
At the beginning of the film the setting seems to only take place during a sunrise, sunset, or inside of a circus tent. Once the we get into the second half of the movie we enter a weird pseudo-Disney world like amusement park called Dreamland. And it’s even darker and devoid of light than we see at the beginning of the film. I truly believe that his is used to hide and cut corners on all of the CGI effects.
While it seems like there is a lot of negatives in this review, I have to say there are glimmering moments in the movie that are really cute. When you get to see Dumbo just be a baby elephant roaming around the circus it makes for some heart-melting moments. There were some instances where you could hear an audible “aww” from the audience (and me). I just wish there were more of these moments.
Overall Dumbo isn’t soaring, in fact its just a surface level film. It has pretty mediocre acting, except for DeVito, a story that is less than inspiring, and an overall dreary setting that hangs the entire two hour run time like a fog. There are some very cute and somewhat light hearted moments that are sprinkled in the movie, but they are not enough to completely save the movie. I won’t say to avoid this film, but if there is something else you have been looking forward to seeing I may go check that out instead. That being said, kids will probably really enjoy this movie. However, you will not find a Tim Burton masterpiece here.
From me, Dumbo receives a 6/10. Just passing.
Are you planning on seeing Dumbo? Have you already seen it? What did you think? Leave a comment below and let’s make a discussion out of it.