This movie gave us goosebumps. And yes, tears were shed. It was beautiful, bright, sad and magical and, just like Dumbo himself, this film soars and flies higher than past live action remakes such as Beauty and The Beast and Malificent. Burtons signature was all over this with the focus of being an outsider and making someone special in a good way.
The development of the characters is lacking in depth emotionally, despite the talent in the cast with names such as Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Eva Green. The human characters were given roles of animals from the original, with Colin Farrell’s character and the children, taking place of Timothy. Q Mouse who helps Dumbo learn to fly so their roles were vital in Dumbo’s adventure. However, the child actress Nico Parkers line delivery was very flat and we never really got a sense that both children were invested, which really takes you out of the film when you haven’t got two children blown away by the fantastical Dumbo. The narrative choices were also lacking such as Michael Keatons character just didn’t fit in with the world and his character make any sense, it just felt like he was trying to Burton up his film with a Johnny Depp character.
Another example of the lack of depth in characters was Danny Davito’s character. Although standing out in performance, we have no insight into his world at the circus. In the opening of the film, we were shown there were two Danny Davitos, what we an assume were brothers. However the film continues to show only one Danny Davito with no explanation leaving us with many questions. Did he make up the brother for the name? If so, why? Eva Greenes character also had so much potential. We could have seen a really amazing relationship between her and Dumbo learning to fly together and maybe finding out they had something in common but her role was just underwritten and no real relationships were formed.
On a more positive note, Dumbo, of course, was the star of the show. The first time Dumbo flies in front of an audience is such a reaction invoking moments and you will get goosebumps. His relationship with his mother is the heart of the movie and the ‘Baby Of Mine’ scene was something I really wasn’t looking forward too, due to the emotional trauma I experienced as a child from the original. But I can confirm, this made me sob just as much, if not harder, as it did when I was FIVE.
The cinematography was full of life and mesmerising, especially the pink elephant bubbles scene, which was breathtaking. The VFX is so surreal you honestly forget that you’ve just fallen in love with a CGI elephant and not a real one. His wonder of the world around him really sits with you on an emotional level as the CGI is so real you an see all his emotions through his eyes. I would be surprised if you watched this film without a smile on your face and have a warm feeling inside while Dumbo is on screen. Although very unrealistic, this movie was so believable due to its incredible visual effects.
Should You See It
We would argue that Dumbo could have been so much more in terms of its characters and world building, but what Burton did was create a visually spectacular version very close to the original. It is flawed but still very enjoyable and makes a lovely film to watch with your family. Children and adults alike will love it as I did.