Dumbo (2019) is directed by Tim Burton and it is the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic with the same name. Dumbo is a baby elephant with enormous ears which can carry him to heights an elephant has never reached. When him and his mom gets separated it’s up to Dumbo and two kids to find the mom. The movie features an impressive consisting of Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins.
I didn’t grow up with the original animated movie, I only just recently watched it. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. My one major flaw with the movie however is the inconsistent storytelling. The movie is literally an hour and three minutes and even with that short runtime it feels like they filled the last half of this movie with the weirdest things. I am mentioning this because the inconsistent story of the original heavily effects this remake. History repeats itself once again as even this new Dumbo movie couldn’t quite get the story just right.
A remake is supposed to expand upon it’s source material and add detail. The problem with Dumbo (2019) is that since the original didn’t really have a cohesive story to begin with, it left the writers to come up with new elements that will somehow turn into a script. A remake should be it’s own thing, it’s good to separate the two, however not to this extent. This movie is a completely new movie with two characters from the original, a somewhat similar style and quick nods to the original. What’s left is a predictable story which doesn’t do the original movie justice.
This is a rare case of when the trailer is better than the movie. I actually got teary-eyed during the trailer. During the actual movie not once did I tear up which really says something when you are watching a remake of one of Disney’s saddest movies. The Baby Mine scene was so rushed it didn’t even give you time to feel something. The first half of this movie follows the original well, I really liked the quick nods like the train and the mouse makes a cameo here and there. However it then goes off the rails into a predictable story we’ve seen a million times.
One thing which bothers me about recent Disney movies is that they choose style over substance and trick the audience by having gorgeous sets and stunning visuals with the story rarely ever being on par. It happened with Beauty and the Beast (2017), The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018) and it happened again with Dumbo (2019). This movie had a bigger budget than it should’ve had and it shows. The sets in this movie are breathtaking and the CGI for the most part looks stunning. You can tell that they focused more on Dumbo than anything else. However my favourite scene in the entire movie is the remake of the Pink Elephants scene. It was magical.
Speaking of Dumbo, I am so glad that they kept him the main focus of the movie. He is as cute as you imagined and he has more to do in this movie than he did in the original movie which was nice to see. Whenever he flies, the movie makes it feel magical and special. It’s used sparingly even though he does learn to fly pretty early on. I did really like the business aspect of the movie. The original movie never really went into business territory. I loved the tour of Dreamland, it added a layer of retro sci-fi which even though I love, I don’t know if that was what this movie needed.
When it comes to acting, there is great, decent and bad. As you would expect DeVito, Keaton and Farrell are great in their respective roles. DeVito surprised me actually, I know he’s a good actor but his role could’ve been so cliched and corny but somehow he finds a way to make it work. Keaton’s character isn’t really intriguing or worth spending all that time on but at least it is Keaton in the role. Farrell gives a great emotional performance but I do feel like they could’ve spent a bit more time on his character. The kids are decent, Nico Parker lacks a bit of emotion in her acting but overall gives a decent performance.
Overall Dumbo (2019) fails to soar as high as it’s predecessor. With a weak, predictable story and uninteresting characters, this remake is left to rely on the title character for the heart and sole reason to watch the movie which he thankfully does provide. Disney has once again gone style over substance, making this movie an incredible waste of potential. You would be better off watching the original animated classic.