The first Disney Live Action remake has arrived! It’s the one you were probably least looking forward too! With good reason as it totally sucks!
About two months ago I reviewed the animated version in my Disneyathon series. I wasn’t overly rapt in it back then but compared to the more recent Disney movies I have seen Dumbo isn’t as bad as I remembered. So I’m one of those people who think the animated movie is better and let me explain why. (This will probably be spoiler filled, if you care.)
I guess I’ve got to give props to Tim Burton and his team for not creating a complete rip-off of the original, but that may also be why this movie isn’t very good. The first 20 minutes adapts the entire animated movie. Jumbo Jr is born from his ma, instead of being dropped off by storks, so his giant ears are just a genetic thing now I guess. A key difference is that Jumbo Jr is mocked in front of a live audience instead of in a one foot high pen. His mum gets mad because when some guy egged her on, attempting to cause a ruckus. This guy’s only purpose is to be a jerk and he is quickly killed off when no longer needed for the plot. Mummy is put in solitary confinement and then you get that iconic scene from the old movie.
They start calling him Dumbo from here on with the excuse that he might not like being called Jumbo because it’ll remind him of his mother. (That literally makes no sense!) After that Colin Farrell’s kids give Jumbo a feather and he learns to fly by chasing after the feather. Then they do the fireman clown act from the old movie which includes Jumbo’s first flight. That’s where the old movie ends and it’s where the movie starts to go downhill.
This movie reminded me a lot of that awful Little Mermaid movie I watched about five months ago which felt like a generic kids movie and the writing was terrible. Same with Dumbo except this time it’s actually under The Mouse’s banner! All the new human characters are generic. Colin Farrell is a generic, white, likable protagonist, his kids are plot devices, Michael Keaton is a moustache twirler, Eva Green is a bland female side character and the list goes on!
The movie definitely gets worse as it progresses where things just don’t make sense. Danny DeVito signs an agreement to put Jumbo in Michael Keaton’s Futuristic Disneyland even though it’s only 1919. Jumbo trains with Eva Green for a bit and then we’re onto the main event. We haven’t seen any conflict for a while and the little girl creature notices that there is no net under Jumbo and Eva Green. Eva Green is worried too so Colin Farrell asks the guy to layout the net and the guy goes ‘Nah they’ll be fine’.
I hope you’re noticing the glaring problem here because these morons didn’t! Why haven’t they practiced without the net before!! The timeline isn’t clear but it looks like they have been practicing for two days, when I imagine a real life circus performers spend months practicing their craft. I also bet they wouldn’t be performing in front of an audience if they’re unsure if the elephant might endanger a human life. It would be bad for your business if it looked like you were winging every performance!
Everyone is mad at Michael Keaton so his next move involves killing mummy elephant and firing all of the workers, which our heroes won’t stand for. Another key moment from old movie happens when the plot puppets tell Jumbo that he doesn’t need the feather to fly. I’m guessing these characters (Or THE MOVIE) have really bad memories because early on when Jumbo heard his mother’s call he didn’t need the feather to fly. The little alien girl even said ‘It’s his mum, Dumbo needs his mum to fly not the feather.’ How Jumbo can fly I found quite inconsistent as the movie thinks you have the mentality of a 2 year old.
So the final action scene continues to show how incompetent this circus is, while our heroes save the elephants, trashing the entire park and putting hundreds out of jobs just because their friends lost their jobs. still a happy sunshine and rainbows ending that will make your child happy and make Disney happy that you paid money to watch.
I was never excited for Dumbo and I wasn’t disappointed that it sucked. (I kind of saw it coming.) Dumbo is just generic. I guess the CG work is okay but I found the visual presentation quite ugly. It’s colours blend into each other and it doesn’t help that everything looks so fake. I know I bashed it pretty hard but there was some good stuff. The performances are pretty good especially from Michael Keaton who looks like he is just going with his cartoony character and the soundtrack is also pretty good.
The one time this movie actually surprised me is when they played Pink Elephants on Parade. The original context is not in this movie but in this version the sequence takes place during the actual performance and it’s kind of an odd thing to have at a family oriented circus. If I was actually there I reckon I would find this more amazing than a flying elephant.
I’m giving it a 3 to 4/10. I guess kids would like it but you’re probably better off waiting for the home release. Until next time I have been The Blog Complainer, Signing Out.