Out of all the movies Disney could remake, Dumbo is one of the few that I feel was completely unnecessary. That’s not to say director Tim Burton didn’t have a chance to crack this, but my gut tells me it’s not worth the effort. This might make some truly believe an elephant can fly, but it goes away after a while when realizing this won’t be the kind of comeback fans of the director wanted.
What’s the Story: A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circle plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
To my surprise, I can’t recall if I ever saw the original Dumbo. All I know is that it made people cry and it had those controversial racist crows. Now that it’s getting a new adaptation for a young audience, it sounded like a bad since especially with Burton involved since he already messed up with his sequel/ remake of Alice in Wonderland. The concern going into this is wondering how they are going to stretch out an animated movie from 1941 that’s only 64 minutes. Well, they did and doesn’t end up being dull, as expected.
But let’s start off talking about what works in here. Dumbo is painfully adorable. There’s no denying that fact. This is just a CGI baby elephant that has more life than anyone else in the entire movie. I cared about him and just feel bad anytime someone teases him because of his big ears. The production design has a beautiful style that one would think of when Burton’s behind the camera. And Danny Elfman’s score was well enough to lift up any scene with Dumbo flying.
The rest of it isn’t all that fascinating, to begin with. I was pretty skeptical when they announced Burton was going to direct this four years back, and I was about right since his take doesn’t have anything spectacular to say about it. It’s a shame as Burton used to be a talented director, but he hasn’t made a great movie in a long time (Frankenweenie being the last good one in his filmography). to the point where I blocked out the mediocre ones from my head.
Ehren Kruger’s script failed to provide the warmth and heart that most would except from Dumbo. I mean, this movie was already a weak story when Kruger is attached. Can’t say there was a moment that made me shed a tear while watching it, even the scene where Dumbo holds trunks with his mother before she goes away with “Baby Mine” playing in the background wasn’t making me feel sad. The changes are to be expected to make certain things worthy, but be also have a lot of human characters that aren’t worth talking about since I didn’t care about them, and that’s why a story like this should’ve been touched up and exciting.
The performances are just fine and nothing important when most aren’t given that much to do. The best performances out of everything was Danny Devito as Max Medici, the owner of the circus since I sensed he was having some fun with his role. Colin Farrell and Eva Green give the best they can with this lifeless script. But never in my life would I ever say Michael Keaton gives a bad performance in a movie, but he does give a bad performance in here. He plays the main antagonist and he’s in a different movie with this weird accent that never worked, and I feel bad since he’s one of my favorite actors.
Was I hoping this ends being good? A little bit since I had no real anticipation for this. It was seriously missing the element of heart and just felt nothing after it was over when it lacked true magic.
In the end, Dumbo is void of wonder and excitement that only a director like Burton can ruin with a live-action remake of a Disney classic that wasn’t able to re-capture anything special. Kids might be able to enjoy this, but I can tell it’s not going to be liked by everyone else. Out of all the remakes that have come out thus far, this is quite possibly the weakest re-imagining from the studio yet.
Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, and Finley Hobbins
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Runtime: 112 Minutes