Dumbo Family

Review: ‘Dumbo’ Will Make You Believe in the Impossible

March 26, 2019Ben MK

Nowadays, it takes quite a lot to impress moviegoers. But back in 1941, all it took was a flying baby elephant named Dumbo and a little bit of Disney magic to make audiences believe in the impossible.

Fast forward 78 years and director Tim Burton's live-action reimagining of the beloved animated classic has arrived to instill that sense of wonder in viewers once again. Set in 1919 America, the film stars Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, an injured World War I veteran who returns home to the Medici Bros. travelling circus only to find that his wife has passed away from influenza and that circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) has sold the horses that were the staple of his act. It's not long before Holt finds a new role, however — as the caretaker for a newborn elephant, whose pregnant mother Max recently acquired.

Of course, this is no ordinary pachyderm, as Holt's two children, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), soon discover. And when big shot entertainment mogul V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) gets wind of the rumors of a flying elephant, it's not long either before he and his muse, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), pay Max a visit. Armed with a business proposition that would see the beleaguered circus proprietor become the Vice President of a futuristic theme park called Dreamland, Vandevere has his sights set on making baby Dumbo his star attraction. But could there be something more sinister afoot?

Having previously helmed 2010's Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Burton is, of course, no stranger to adapting an animated classic for live-action. Thankfully, however, the similarities between Dumbo and Alice end there. For although Dumbo's plot is a fairly straightforward affair, Burton and company have managed to infuse the movie not just with plenty of visual spectacle, but with more than enough heartfelt drama as well, making it one of the most satisfying Disney live action entries to date.

And while the cast is partly to thank for how effective Dumbo is at tugging on audiences' heartstrings, it really is Dumbo himself who steals the show. Brought to life via some of the most exceptionally convincing CGI artistry this side of The Jungle Book, his expressive face and exaggerated features make this lovable baby elephant immediately relatable from the very first time he appears on screen. Suffice to say, there's never a moment where the audience is left doubting Dumbo's authenticity, which goes a long way in making the story resonate emotionally.

Every bit as endearing as its title character, the result is a film that succeeds at accomplishing what all remakes strive for — capturing the spirit of the original while giving future generations of moviegoers something that they'll truly be able to treasure for years to come. But perhaps most importantly, Dumbo will make audiences feel like a kid again. And isn't that why we most of us go to the movies in the first place?

Dumbo releases March 29th, 2019 from Walt Disney Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 52 min.

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