Dumbo Review

Dumbo - Character Poster

Disney has been no stranger to live-action adaptations of their animated film library. The first adaptation, The Jungle Book, was released all the way back in 1994. Yet it was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland that lit a fire in Disney to create more live-action adaptations. It’s not a total shocker since the film did make over a billion dollars. 2019 is shaping up to be Disney’s biggest year yet with three live-action adaptations coming this year. The first of those adaptations is Dumbo; directed by Tim Burton, the same man that first initiated Disney’s live-action craze. But is Tim Burton able to recreate the magic that he made in Alice in Wonderland?

You bet he does. Tim Burton has put together a heartwarming film that’ll melt the iciest of hearts. Not to mention, Dumbo is as cute and adorable as the animated version that it’s based on.

Dumbo follows Holt Farrier, a father that returns to the circus after his stint in the war. Once there, he is put in charge of the circus’ herd of elephants. Little does he know that one of those elephants is about to birth one special (and loveable) baby elephant that’ll change everyone’s lives forever.

Dumbo - Danny DeVito and Colin Farrell

Although dark and gloomy is a typical trope of Tim Burton’s, Dumbo is the complete and total opposite. It’s so bright and hopeful that you’d never think that it was a Tim Burton film. However, there’s a certain trope that connects this film with all of his other films: Outcasts. Tim Burton loves to deal with the weird and the strange so, of course, Dumbo is perfect for him.

Tim Burton is able to humanize the circus freaks and make them feel truly special. In other words, they’re not special in how they look, but they’re special on the inside. This is especially true for Dumbo himself. Burton frequently uses the camera to focus in on Dumbo’s face. As a result, this will give you a sense of his emotions and make you fall in love with him (even more). I mean it also helps that Dumbo is so incredibly adorable as well. This also plays a big part in your emotional attachment to him.

But accepting freaks is just one of the many messages that you’ll find in the film. Some are blatantly obvious while others require a deeper analysis. But whatever message you get from the film, you begin to realize how relevant it is for today.

Unfortunately, all these messages lead into a “longer than it should be” type of film. Certain scenes just drag without any extra story development. Thankfully, the storyline is coherent and easy to follow for the kids. The live-action adaptation also expands on the original film by adding a lot of lore to the film. Some of the characters from the original have larger backstories while the newer characters are able to fit perfectly into this established world. Of course, that’s pretty easy to do since the original 1941 film is only 64-minutes long.

Dumbo - Eva Green

It’s just a shame that the villains aren’t given as much depth as our heroes. The villains are one-dimensional and so unquestionably obvious that it’s difficult to be afraid of them. You will, however, absolutely detest them. Mostly, it’s because of their tendency to abuse and exploit animals. Even Michael Keaton can’t use his natural charm to get audiences to slightly feel for him. In other words, Keaton does a great job of getting us to hate him.

As good as Michael Keaton is, it’s Danny DeVito and Dumbo that steals the show here. Every scene he’s in is full of laughs and entertainment—both aimed at him and by him. In a way, it’s reminiscent of his work on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Also, Dumbo steals every scene that he’s in. Unsurprisingly, he is the heart and soul of this entire film. Although they’re not standouts, both Colin Farrell and Eva Green help solidify the base of the film. They’re the engine that makes this film go.

Overall, Dumbo is a gorgeous and entertaining film that’ll definitely pull on the heartstrings. This film is Tim Burton at his absolute best and one of his best films in recent memory too. It just goes to show you that—with the right material—Tim Burton still has that magical touch.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1418 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.