Am I the only one who is getting a little tired of all these live-action remakes of Disney classics? Whilst they are a good way of bringing classic stories to a new audience, a big part of me feels as though these live-action re-imaginings are somewhat undermining the many, many people, with incredible talent and skills, that work on animation and the may years it takes to fully complete a full length animated feature.
Yes, I enjoyed The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan, and yes, I did watch Beauty and the Beast three times at the cinema but that, I think, is my limit now. I am, in no way, excited about upcoming features, Aladdin or The Lion King, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about Dumbo either, and don’t even get me started on that monstrosity that was supposed to be The Little Mermaid.
However, as I’ve said before, I quite often find that when I am not really enthusiastic about a film I usually end up enjoying it (i.e. Captain Marvel), and so I went into the cinema with an open mind.
I think it is important to note that this is an adaptation of the story, not a remake, so if you are expecting a like-for-like of the original then you are going to be severely disappointed. Although, to be frank, chances are you are going to be a bit disappointed either way.
Circus stallion rider, Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) returns from the war to find that he has not only lost his arm but also his act, after the penny-pinching circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) sold his prized stallions. In order to stay working, Max offers him the role of Elephant Keeper, which includes looking after the new born elephant, Dumbo (originally named Baby Jumbo), whose giant ears make him the laughing stock of the already struggling circus.
However, when Holt’s children Joe (Finley Hobbins) and Milly (Nico Parker) discover that Dumbo can fly, it puts the circus back on the map and firmly in the sights of entrepreneur V.A Vandevere (Michael Keaton). In order to make Dumbo a star, Vandevere offers Medici a partnership and the whole circus troupe move to his entertainment park, Dreamland, where they all live happily ever after. Just kidding, obviously!!
Unfortunately, and somewhat typically for Tim Burton, Dumbo is film that is more style over substance. Visually, the film is stunning and they absolutely nailed the titular character. Honestly, if I could’ve plucked Dumbo out of the screen and taken him home with me, I would have! I fell in love from the minute we see him emerge from under a pile of hay, Dumbo is a great example of CGI done well. Unfortunately, almost everything else just fell a little flat. The story is a little weak, the characters are underdeveloped and, despite the big name cast, the acting is sub-standard, although that may be a little unfair to Danny DeVito.
Although Eva Green’s mystique and sexuality works in this particular role as Colette, the exotic trapeze artist, I didn’t feel as though I was seeing anything new from her; the villain of the piece, Michael Keaton is guilty of over-acting and is ultimately utterly forgettable; and as the human lead, Farrell is disappointing and unlikeable.
Unfortunately, the newcomers Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins were also a little mediocre, although I think part of that may have been because they had so little to work with. Honestly, I don’t know what Hobbins’ character’s purpose was except to fill that 2.2 children family idealism. Parker, however, did show some potential, and as the daughter of Thandie Newton, I am sure she will continue to grow.
I would love to give you more but I’ll be honest, I have pretty much forgotten the whole movie already. If you have children, they may enjoy the spectacle of it and it is worth watching just to see the adorable Dumbo, although I would recommend waiting until it comes out on Blu-Ray.
Seen it? Let me know your thoughts.