Dumbo – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Dumbo – Flight of a Simple Fairytale

Remakes, a kind of film that is always compared to the original.  No matter if its adapting to a different medium or reimagined for modern times, remakes put the audience in a peculiar dilemma.  How do you look at a remake without ever thinking – the original did it better?  For all the worth of past acclaim, taking the film ‘as is’ will help you enjoy any adapted adventure.  A remake of one of Disney’s classic, this one takes the approach of adapting through a different perspective.  Even with some faults in story and characters, Dumbo is a fun journey for the family.

The story follows a struggling circus in the early 1900s, trying to survive the changing times after WWI.  Through some convenient plot elements, they end up with a group of elephants.  One of the elephants gives birth to the titular character.  From the onset, the director (Tim Burton) takes the approach of not adapting ‘verbatim’ the original animated feature.  By directing through a realistic lens, you have a story that highlights original elements while intertwining with human characters at the forefront.  The attempt to do something different is worthy, but what happens is that characters and settings become basic reflections of fairytale motifs.  Even with recognizable names in the film like Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, they all represent familiar archetypes of any Disney film.   As the story progresses, the human tale parallels Dumbo’s own growth.  There are strings of poignant moments that meander through vibrant visual aesthetics, but nothing stands out because of an ill-written script.  From the wooden main children characters, the cast of misfits in the circus to the obvious classic Disney villain in V. A. Vandevere (Keaton), the film panders with hollowness, showcasing failed attempts of actual emotional appeal.   

Through all the cumbersome detail and unwanted secondary plots, what makes centers the film’s enjoyment is Dumbo.  By taking the fantastical elements and imbuing it with realistic threads, it allows for Dumbo and his ‘flight’ abilities to feel more wonderous than ever before.  When these moments do happen, you’re fully enraptured by the scene.  From the visual allure to the resounding reactions of the crowds, you feel as if you’re a part of the show.  These ‘high’ moments lead into a third act that is nothing more than the basic trope of ‘style over substance’.  Even with a lacking climax, the epilogue leads Dumbo to a welcoming conclusion of his journey.  This live-action remake from Disney isn’t one of their best to date.  Even with a lack of true heart, there is enough visual appeal for a fun time with the family.  I say check this out if you’re a fan of Dumbo, but see it at a discount price.

Final Score – 3 out of 5 (Theater Discount)

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