'Dumbo' Lacks the Heart and Magic of the Original 'Dumbo' Lacks the Heart and Magic of the Original

27 Mar , 2019

When you think of Dumbo the trademark big ears, cute eyes, and a lovable personality all come to mind. The look and feel of an elephant flying seems so surreal when adapted from animation to live-action. I want to start this review by saying that they got the character Dumbo RIGHT!

And... well... that’s about it.

WARNING: This review DOES contain spoilers.

What’s up with these characters?

 

Look, the movie is called DUMBO. Maybe they missed that? The first act relies on the story of returning military veteran Holt (Colin Farrell) who comes home to his children who, unfortunately, lost their mother. 

This was a prime example of telling and not showing—not once in the film do they mention how she died. Not to mention Holt’s arm has been blown off and there’s no explanation as to how or why. Is he a hero? Or just another infantryman who lost his arm? SHOW ME, Tim!

But I’m getting beside the point. I reference the first act to say that most of lead trio of Holt and his children, who replace the role of Timothy Q Mouse, feel the same throughout the entire movie. They’re likable, but lifeless without powerful emotional moments to push scenes forward and create memorable performances.

When we finally meet Dumbo, HE is the scene stealer. Without Dumbo, these characters lack emotion and motivations are unclear and foggy. I did enjoy Maximilian Medici (Danny DeVito), and his “Frank Reynolds” approach to running a circus. But... after the first act... that Medici dissolved and the character hit the sidelines.

The direction needed more magic...

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking “BUT BATMAN AND PENGUIN WITH BURTON AGAIN! HOW COULD THAT GO WRONG?” Well, writing is to blame. V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) is a pompous, uppity circus entrepreneur who wants Dumbo for his circus. But, his character was chalk full of one liners and what felt like blank line reading to me. It was unclear when he was trying to be sneaky—he just wasn’t villainous enough! And this seems to go in every direction with most characters—dull and somewhat expressionless through most of the movie without enough heart in their characters.
Which, in my eyes, reflects heavily on the director. You’ve got big hitters like Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Danny DaVeto, Michael Keaton, and even Alan Arkin, but NONE of their characters feel memorable? Yikes. Not to mention the kids—likable But stale and not memorable...

Jumbo Jr was GREAT but he couldn’t save the rest of the movie

There seemed to really be no redemption for the film. There were some moments that had INCREDIBLE potential—especially when Dumbo flew. The cuts back and forth between Dumbo soaring through the air and the audience’s amazement along with the ramped up music was wonderful, but this really couldn’t make up for the other shoddy parts of the movie.... a missing Timothy Q Mouse, a Pink Elephant scene cut way too short, a manufactured romance between Colin Farrell and Eva Green’s characters, and everything else I mentioned is too much for our main character to balance alone.
Listen, kids could like this one. But adults who were superfans of the 1941 animated film... beware...
Dumbo soars into theaters March 28th

When you think of Dumbo the trademark big ears, cute eyes, and a lovable personality all come to mind. The look and feel of an elephant flying seems so surreal when adapted from animation to live-action. I want to start this review by saying that they got the character Dumbo RIGHT!

And... well... that’s about it.

WARNING: This review DOES contain spoilers.

What’s up with these characters?

 

Look, the movie is called DUMBO. Maybe they missed that? The first act relies on the story of returning military veteran Holt (Colin Farrell) who comes home to his children who, unfortunately, lost their mother. 

This was a prime example of telling and not showing—not once in the film do they mention how she died. Not to mention Holt’s arm has been blown off and there’s no explanation as to how or why. Is he a hero? Or just another infantryman who lost his arm? SHOW ME, Tim!

But I’m getting beside the point. I reference the first act to say that most of lead trio of Holt and his children, who replace the role of Timothy Q Mouse, feel the same throughout the entire movie. They’re likable, but lifeless without powerful emotional moments to push scenes forward and create memorable performances.

When we finally meet Dumbo, HE is the scene stealer. Without Dumbo, these characters lack emotion and motivations are unclear and foggy. I did enjoy Maximilian Medici (Danny DeVito), and his “Frank Reynolds” approach to running a circus. But... after the first act... that Medici dissolved and the character hit the sidelines.

The direction needed more magic...

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking “BUT BATMAN AND PENGUIN WITH BURTON AGAIN! HOW COULD THAT GO WRONG?” Well, writing is to blame. V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) is a pompous, uppity circus entrepreneur who wants Dumbo for his circus. But, his character was chalk full of one liners and what felt like blank line reading to me. It was unclear when he was trying to be sneaky—he just wasn’t villainous enough! And this seems to go in every direction with most characters—dull and somewhat expressionless through most of the movie without enough heart in their characters.
Which, in my eyes, reflects heavily on the director. You’ve got big hitters like Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Danny DaVeto, Michael Keaton, and even Alan Arkin, but NONE of their characters feel memorable? Yikes. Not to mention the kids—likable But stale and not memorable...

Jumbo Jr was GREAT but he couldn’t save the rest of the movie

There seemed to really be no redemption for the film. There were some moments that had INCREDIBLE potential—especially when Dumbo flew. The cuts back and forth between Dumbo soaring through the air and the audience’s amazement along with the ramped up music was wonderful, but this really couldn’t make up for the other shoddy parts of the movie.... a missing Timothy Q Mouse, a Pink Elephant scene cut way too short, a manufactured romance between Colin Farrell and Eva Green’s characters, and everything else I mentioned is too much for our main character to balance alone.
Listen, kids could like this one. But adults who were superfans of the 1941 animated film... beware...
Dumbo soars into theaters March 28th

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