“Dumbo” Soars Below the Clouds

Disney remakes its 1941 classic “Dumbo” into a live-action spectacle.

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“Dumbo” Soars Below the Clouds

Dumbo Press Release Image.

Dumbo Press Release Image.

Dumbo Press Release Image.

Dumbo Press Release Image.

Joshua Letona, Contributing Writer

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“Dumbo” is the latest entry among the string of live-action remakes of Disney classics. The original film runs at just over an hour, giving the new creative team some freedom to expand on the story. Tim Burton takes the director’s seat this time, putting his stamp on a script written by Ehren Kruger (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ghost in the Shell).

When Max Medici’s (Danny DeVito) circus hits hard times, he enlists the help of Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his kids, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), to train a young elephant with big ears to fly and save the circus as they get the attention of entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton).

What “Dumbo” does succeed in is bringing the cuteness to its titular character and the spectacle when the elephant takes flight. The special effects used to bring the animal to life are extraordinarily detailed and capture every emotion. Disney would remiss themselves if they failed the audience on just the presentation of Dumbo, which almost is worth seeing on the big screen. They even pulled at heartstrings with some of its depictions of animal abuse.

The film recaptures many of the plot points of the original film and nails many of the classic moments. Unfortunately, that is only the first 30 minutes or so as it veers into new territory, exploring Dumbo as he gains stardom at Vandevere’s theme park. The film finds less success in these parts of the story, losing focus on its deeper themes of family and loss. Dumbo’s journey is meant to parallel the Farrier family, but much of that just boils down to being superficial, boasting for a big finale with little substance.

All the actors across the board deliver fine performances like Farrell and DeVito, but both become forgettable elements of the film as they take a back seat to Dumbo. Keaton may be the most disappointing element of them all, but not because of his performance. Tim Burton’s direction for the character leaves much to be desired for an actor like Keaton who has shown incredible amounts of range in the past as he is playing a one-dimensional villain here.

“Dumbo” captures only some of the magic that made the original such a classic, which may be enjoyable for some, but winds up becoming a shallow spectacle in its later half.

 

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