Dumbo – A Flying Tale Comes Alive Once Again.
Dumbo is Tim Burton’s new fantasy adventure that tells the legendary story of the flying elephant Dumbo. The movie is based on the Walt Disney animated picture Dumbo (1941) and follows the lives of the circus family who raises a cuddly baby elephant that flaps his oversized ears and wins every audience member with his long-lashed, large and expressive marble brown eyes.
With big names, such as Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Alan Arkin or Danny DeVito, Burton lures the audience into a wondrous adventure packed with thrills, fun and emotion. Based on the 64-minute original feature film, Burton’s movie is a remarkable remake, but probably less memorable than the other Disney’s revamps that are currently gaining screen time (The Lion King, Jungle Book, Aladdin and so on).
Having on board screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Transformers, The Brothers Grimm), the story has vastly expanded from its original. More human characters are added to the story, which adds depth, yet takes away intrigue. The characters do not develop as the story unfolds, which adds a superficial tone to the remake. However, the main character Dumbo is irresistibly cute and adorable, and is complemented by a colourful cast of human sidekicks .
The story opens up in 1919, right after the war introducing us to Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) - a World War I amputee and show horse-riding performer. Holt the former soldier, returns to the now financially struggling Medici Brothers’ Circus, managed by Max Medici (Danny DeVito). Since most of the elephants had to be sold to make ends meet, Holt gets reassigned to take care of the pregnant Asian elephant ‘Mrs Jumbo’. After the mother gives birth to the calf, it is soon detected that the newborn is special- it’s got giant ears! Medici tries to hide the calf’s oversized ears, but they are discovered by a cheering and mocking audience, naming the baby elephant Dumbo. Mrs Jumbo is shocked and goes onto stage to defend her son, which results in damages to the circus. Soon after, Medici decides to sell the mother thus separating the two. The young motherless elephant Dumbo goes on an emotional journey to adapt to his new world and find his mother. Dumbo is now isolated and his watery goo-goo eyes express his fear and burning longing for his mother. Fortunately Dumbo makes two new circus friends - Joe and Milly Farrier (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins), who are also the children of caretaker Holt. They comfort baby Dumbo and discover his amazing ability to fly!
Thanks to Burton’s rich imagination and lush visual tapestries, through impressive animation and state of the art CGI effects, the film achieves a great level of realism while the nuanced portrayal of the main characters touch the hearts of the viewers on a deeper level than expected. The audience’s journey is intense and full of mesmerising spectacles that draw the viewer into a world of fairytale magic. So the tale of Dumbo has once again come to life. Despite its weaknesses, Tim Burton’s Dumbo is a fun and rewarding film with an uplifting message. It tells us to just ‘be yourself and fly’.
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It’s not hard to enjoy Dumbo. Like the circus owners and carnival crackpots who try to exploit the flying elephant for all he’s worth, Tim Burton still knows how to give us what we want. He may think of himself as the tormented freak on display, but he’s also clearly the all-powerful showman, ready to exploit our sense of wonder
Fortunately, Dumbo is so awesome and so determined and so brave, and the heartwarming aspects of the story are so impactful, we never stop caring.
The new story is decidedly, deliciously dark, veined with thin layers of Burton’s trademark macabre sensibility, which adds texture and tartness to the inherent charm of the story (at heart, one about the parent-child bond and the possibility of the impossible)
That this same blockbuster should turn out to be utterly soulless and the cinematic equivalent of a tacky Vandevere production is a gorgeously satisfying irony, and certainly the most interesting element of an otherwise vapid, uninspired remake.
A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.