Film Review – Dumbo (2019)

Title – Dumbo (2019)

Director – Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands)

Cast – Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Dany DeVito, Michael Keaton, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker

Plot – In post-war America, Halt Farrier (Farrell) and his young family find themselves in charge of caring for baby elephant Dumbo, whose unique ability of flying has made him the star attraction of the Medici Brothers circus run by Max Medici (DeVito), while also attracting the attention of plotting businessman V.A Vandevere (Keaton).   

“Let’s get ready for Dumbo”

Review by Eddie on 02/04/2019

If 15 years ago it was announced that famed director and imaginative soul Tim Burton was going to be helming a modern day remake of beloved Disney animation classic Dumbo, you’d think that the film world would’ve been counting down the days until the film was released.

Fast forward to 2019 and the story is a whole lot different, as let’s not beat around the circus marquee, Tim Burton has lost his creative spark and mojo sometime ago and sadly, Dumbo isn’t the film to magically bring it back.

It’s a story that certainly fits the Burton M.O to a tee.

Magic, circuses, over the top villains, Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton (in a rather forgettable Batman reunion) and a sense of wonder and imagination, but in his current state of affairs, Dumbo is all the things that have been wrong about most of Burton’s more recent offerings, meaning the film isn’t intolerable, but it’s all types of forgettable.

Disney would want to hope that this is a one off, with other live action remakes in the form of Aladdin and The Lion King coming our way before we know it, as poor old big eared Dumbo is such a by the numbers affair, devoid of any real magic, that it makes you wonder if it would’ve been a better choice to just re-watch the much more streamlined and emotionally resonate animation for the umpteenth time.

Burton’s film isn’t devoid of moments of solid family orientated entertainment, scenes involving Dumbo taking to the skies will bring a smile to your face, Dumbo himself is a cute CGI creation, while some of the films sets and visuals are as good as you’d hope to get from a film with a $160 million production budget but there’s just a lack of real heart or spark here to make the film take to the skies like its protagonist.

This is just a sad continuation on from the Burton of old who since the success of Big Fish in 2003 has delivered such forgettable affairs as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Big Eyes and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and while some of these films have been financial successes, Burton’s career phase where he seems determined to tackle beloved properties, have found the filmmaker struggling to give a soul to his well-financed escapades, a problem that many of his earlier film’s never had and a reason why so many feel in love with the filmmaker in the first place.

Not even the presence of likeable performers like Colin Farrell (in a rather thankless one-armed role as cowboy star Holt Farrier), Burton’s new muse Eva Green or the aforementioned Keaton or DeVito can do much to save Dumbo from a sense of mediocrity, although what else can you expect when they’re working off a script by the same screenwriter responsible for three separate Transformers films and the ghastly Ghost In the Shell.

Final Say –

There’s little moments of joy to be found in Dumbo but this padded out and mostly lethargic re-imagining of the adored animation is so forgettable and uninspired, you wonder why anyone even bothered, making this yet another stale entry into the increasingly dwindling returns of its director Tim Burton’s C.V.

2 ½ peanuts out of 5  

16 responses to “Film Review – Dumbo (2019)

  1. Haven’t seen this yet, and not rushing to either. I’ve yet to be impressed by any of Disney’s live action remakes, and from the first trailer Dumbo has always looked like it wouldn’t live up to the hype. It’s funny how the House of Mouse are so intent on trampling all over their classic animations. Wonder what Walt would have made of it all…?

    • I am the same as you mate, even the much loved Jungle Book I didn’t think was that amazing. I have the feeling Walt would’ve liked the money but been disappointed in how such esteemed properties are being treated for a quick buck at the same time.
      E

  2. Nice review! I don’t think Disney is too sad about Dumbo being a mediocre movie. When it comes to remakes, Disney likes mediocre: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Maleficent… They get twice the money for half the work. Besides, the easier it is for audiences to forget, the sooner they can make yet another remake of the same story.

  3. You have just sealed Dumbo’s faith.
    I was looking forward to watching it.
    Until it came out and I wanted to check the reviews. Only then did I find out it was Tim’s creation. That was a red flag already. Then I read all the mixed reviews and decided that I wouldn’t be seeing it. But something kept saying: “maybe?”. Hearing it from you just strengthens the “no”. Thanks!

    • Look its watchable, but honestly so forgettable. It really had nothing in it that would warrant a re-watch or yes even a cinema trip.
      E

    • I believe that is the case! It just feels like his lost the love and passion that made his early works and early 2000’s films so good!
      E

  4. Great review. You confirm my fears. I am actually heart-broken a bit that this movie is not better because I love Dumbo and the story. I thought Tim Burton and Dumbo, what can possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, then.

    • I was thinking the same initially! I dont know anymore, I feel like we’ve seen the best of Burton. Just dont know if he has it in him anymore.
      E

      • Yes, I may not be completely right but I think all new technological advances in screen visual effects, etc. may be hurting and not helping Burton’s creativity. I mean the man was his best when all the tacky and gimmicky stuff was popular in late 80s and early 90s. But that is my opinion, of course.

      • I would tend to agree with those thoughts completely. I think his been getting far to much money and it’s allowing him to much scope and then not focussing on the good emotional stuff.
        E

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