Director Tim Burton brings his trademark whimsy to this classic tale about the lovable little elephant.
As the first of Disney’s three live-action re-imaginings set for release in 2019, Dumbo had the unenviable task of not only setting the tone for the two succeeding films, but also living up to the quality of its predecessors.
With Tim Burton at the helm, his second live-action adaptation of a Disney property after Alice in Wonderland, it was safe to assume that the famed director would bring much of his trademark sensibilities to the film, breathing new whimsical life into the classic animated movie and updating the story for contemporary audiences.
So we begin with Dumbo taking place in the year 1919. The world is still reeling from the after effects of The Great War and circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) is looking to reinvigorate his business. He looks to do this with the purchase of the pregnant elephant Jumbo. Much to his dismay, the newborn baby elephant is born with abnormally large ears and is then given the name Dumbo.
During this time, former circus performer Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has returned from the war a different man. Now a widower due to the death of his wife from influenza, and missing an arm from combat, he looks to rebuild his life with his two children at the circus. However, his show horses have been sold. As a result, he’s left to train the baby elephant. When Holt’s children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) discover that Dumbo can use his large ears to fly, they begin training him so that he can use his ears to perform for audiences.
With this new revelation, Max sees Dumbo as his new main attraction to help bring in audiences and hopefully have his business return to form. The awe and wonder of this one-of-a-kind animal helps begin a turnaround for the circus. Dumbo’s amazing feats draw the attention of wealthy entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who wishes to purchase the little elephant to be a part of his theme park. However, all Dumbo wants is to be reunited with his mother, who was sent away.
Though Tim Burton’s live-action adaptation of the animated film wasn’t as warmly received as some of Disney’s other efforts, the movie isn’t without its merits. Burton works his visual magic in giving the little elephant the kind of whimsy that will only endear the classic character for generations to come. Beyond the character itself, the film’s updated story gives it a contemporary feeling, fitting for newer audiences while staying true to the classic.
Burton reunites with many of his frequent collaborators and each brings their A-game, with fun performances that audiences come to expect out of a Burton film. From actors such as Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Eva Green, to costume designer Colleen Atwood and composer Danny Elfman, there is something both familiar with the cast and crew, and something new. Like each of Disney’s previous live-action adaptations, Dumbo is more than just a cash grab and the film earns its place as a solid flick in its own right.
If you want to check out our full review from its theatrical run, click here. ~Paolo Maquiraya
Circus Spectaculars – This featurette takes a look at the cast, their performances, and the circus training that went into the film. It also delves into the horse riding training and the visual effects wizardry that helped bring out the film’s story and themes.
The Elephant in the Room – Featurette shows audiences the design work that went into the film’s titular character and how much was derived from the original cartoon, while applying a more realistic sense for the elephant’s performance.
Built to Amaze – Costuming, set and production design.
Easter Eggs on Parade – Short featurette highlighting all the small, hidden, or overt Easter eggs and references found throughout the film that harken back to the original.
Clowning Around – Gag reel of the funniest moments on set during production.
Music Video – “Baby Mine” performed by Arcade Fire
The Other Medici Brother
A Star Is Born
A Seat at the Show
If you have seen Dumbo and would like to rate/review the film yourself, click here.