Review: ‘Dumbo’ doesn’t fly


Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins star in “Dumbo.” IMDb website phot

“Dumbo” is a poorly executed remake reflective of Disney’s attempt to cash in on audiences’ nostalgia.

Directed by Tim Burton, the film is a live-action remake of the 1941 Disney film of the same name. Max Medici (Danny DeVito) is a struggling circus owner who is looking at making cuts to his show and laying off workers to save money and keep his show afloat. When a pregnant elephant gives birth to a calf with large ears, Medici is disappointed that Dumbo, the newborn, doesn’t bring any value to his show. When Dumbo shows his ability to fly and garners popularity, however, Medici feels that Dumbo will be able to save his circus and then some.

There are many flaws with “Dumbo” including flat, one-dimensional characters, no character development and a terrible color scheme.

Every character, including DeVito’s character, carried no distinct personalities or characteristics, and because they were very one-dimensional, there was little to no character development in the film. Dumbo, a completely computer-generated elephant, had more personality and a livelier on-screen presence than his human counterparts.

Though this film is a remake, it carried none of the charm of the original 1941 film. What made the 1941 original version so beloved is that it was produced during Disney’s golden era. With Walt Disney at the helm of the animation studios, these films carried a certain charm that hadn’t been seen before in animation and has been hard to imitate since. With its innovations in animation techniques, use of color, and narratives, these early Disney films were ahead of the curve when compared to their contemporaries.

Tim Burton is known for having a dark aesthetic to his films, both in narrative and in visuals. Because of his distinct style and artistic direction, I felt Burton was the wrong director to have in the production of this remake.

There are many points in the film where the narrative carries a sad, melancholic mood. At these times, a dark, visual aesthetic could have complimented the story. This is a kid’s movie, however, and children as far as I’m concerned aren’t watching with a trained eye; they just want to be entertained.

It could be argued that “Nightmare Before Christmas” is a kid’s movie that carries a dark aesthetic with artistic layers and depth. However, it’s important to remember that “Nightmare Before Christmas” is an original Tim Burton film, where Burton had full artistic control of the film. “Dumbo” is not his original film, so Burton does not have artistic control of the film and is set with limitations.

“Dumbo” is another example of Disney’s trend to compromise artistic integrity in favor of profit. Most of these live-action remakes are effortless, soulless and unnecessary. Besides “The Jungle Book,” which is arguably the most palatable film of this trend, these remakes are blatant cash-grabs for Disney.

It’s clear that Disney would rather take advantage and cash out on the nostalgia factor of these films than to attempt to create something new and refreshing for its audiences.

With “Cinderella” being underwhelming, “Beauty and the Beast” dull and boring and “Dumbo” delivering an utter disappointment, I do not look forward to the forthcoming remakes of “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and “The Lady and the Tramp.”

These remakes, pumped out constantly, are jokes. and Disney is not in on them.

Rating 2/5

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] and @AngelOrtegaNews on Twitter.