Dumbo – A sweet and visually pleasing reimagining of the animated classic

Posted on 17 April 2019
By Roisin Gordon
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Tim Burton returns to cinemas with his latest reimaging of a Disney classic with Dumbo, as he expands on the story that we all know and love.

Considering Burton had previously disappointed with his version of Alice in Wonderland, it was a little nerve-wracking to see what he would bring to Dumbo.

Thankfully this time Burton, remembered to bring a little more substance to add to the style, with his usual flare for spectacular visuals and a quirky story centred around a loveable misfit. Burton manages to deliver a film that entertains all round, even if it doesn’t improve on the original.

Burton took it upon himself to expand on the story from the original film, as he introduces many characters who are part of the circus troupe including the Farrier family, who take Dumbo in and train him for the show.

Much like Burton’s previous work, the set design and special effects are nothing short of brilliant. In particular the design of V.A. Vandervere’s Dreamland which manages to balance being both a whimsical and magical setting, but shows to become a much darker and twisted as the story progresses.

Unlike Burton’s reimagining of Alice in Wonderland where the scenery chewed up the actors, the visuals and story do a good job of complimenting each other.

Even the infamous pink elephants scene is recreated well, although it doesn’t quite capture the bizarreness that was present in the original film.

Dumbo himself is irresistibly cute and charming, with his trademark huge ears and clumsiness that has you rooting for him throughout. However, despite the film being titled Dumbo, the film doesn’t really feel focused on the titular character, as it decides to focus more on the human characters.

The relationship between Dumbo and his mother was the heart of the original film, and whilst it does play a part in this film, even having it mirror the Farrier children coping with the loss of their own mother, it feels glossed over in favour of other story arcs.

Colin Farrell was disappointing in the role of protagonist Holt Farrier, given that he was given a bit of backstory to work with to make the role a little interesting.

Whilst Farrell is clearly trying his best in the role, and does have some sweet scenes with his on-screen children, he can’t help but feel rather bland when compared to the other characters.

Danny DeVito on the other hand proves to be a scene stealer in role of circus ringleader Max Medici, whether he’s being harassed by a pet monkey or looking for ways to make more money he always provides the laughs in his scenes.

On first glance you may think that he is just a money hungry tycoon who will do anything to get ahead, but he does have a couple of scenes that shows his softer side and that he does care for his circus family.

Eva Green also gives a decent performance as Colette, the trapeze artist who is trained to perform with Dumbo.

Despite feeling woefully underused in the film, Green still proves to have a likeable presence as she brilliantly blends both a feistiness and good nature in her character and does have some sweet scenes with Dumbo and the Farrier Family to work with.

Michael Keaton is highly entertaining as the villainous V.A Vandervere, with his wolfish smile and energetic and over the top performance, Keaton dominates every moment that he is on screen that it’s hilarious to watch.

Dumbo feels like the previous live-action Disney remakes, it doesn’t really improve on the original film but provides us with lighthearted entertainment as well as dazzling visuals.

Purple Revolver Rating: 3.5/5- A flight of fantasy