Movie Review: DUMBO - Another Colorful Vision Of Tim Burton

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Movie Review: DUMBO - Photo credit: imdb, edition by Amber255 via

1941 Disney's animated film about the flying elephant Dumbo is one of the most fun and loved cartoon stories in history. I knew how my niece loved cartoon films about Dumbo, so as soon as it arrived in our cinemas, I took her to this film. Now, with the technology advanced, Dumbo from the animated became a flying elephant!

I guess, no one is surprised that the Walt Disney film studio is making its animation adaptations one after another. More precisely, all the old animations even after 50 or 60 years move to the real world.  Starting with a few Princesses of Disney, ending with the Jungle Book, and now the DUMBO.

Tim Burton still knows how to give us what we want. He may think of himself as the tormented freak on display, but he’s also clearly the all-powerful showman, ready to exploit our sense of wonder.


A fantasy adventure film for the family DUMBO is presented by an exclusive director Tim Burton. If there is one thing that the director of the film Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands is able to do just that perfectly, it is to create a fabulous mystical atmosphere. The latest film features a colorful and shiny circus that really fits into the director's style.

Tim Burton, a famous storyteller who gained wide popularity and won the love of millions of viewers in the 90s, has a difficult relationship with the studio. As a young artist, the company kicked out him, then took back, and kicked out again, and so many times. When the director achieved success, he was once again invited to work. But then more likely Burton started to dictate the conditions, and all his films retained the recognizable author's style.

DUMBO, Official Trailer - Photo credit: youtube

The Plot 

Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) came back to the circus he has worked in, but it survives its last year. True, there was no work for him. The only place is the elephants' care. Unexpectedly, a newcomer from Asia born an elephant that has unusually large ears. Max Medici (Danny DeVito) the circus' owner, invited the former star Holt together with his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to take care of this newborn elephant.

And how are all surprised when these big and weird ears bring the elephant into the heavens: The Dumbo flies! That's where the little elephant becomes the great circus savior and brings it back to the golden age of the circus.

Soon Vandevere (Michael Keaton), a shrewd entrepreneur, employs a flying elephant in his latest and ultra-large Dreamland entertainment world which hides a lot of dark secrets under his outer shine.

Family Film DUMBO - Photo credit: imdb

The Content 

78 years have passed since the DUMBO appeared in our world. A year ago we could see an animated elephant that could fly. With the help of extremely beautiful special effects technologies, Dumbo has evolved and moved into our world. And Dumbo is the very rare thing that has survived in history.

Indeed, if we look better, Tim Burton, we can say, removed almost everything that we saw in the animation. Whether it's good or wrong, I leave to everyone who will watch this movie. Personally, this did not disturb me. Perhaps even better; the director changed the story and looked at the life of the circus elephant at a different angle.

Every new movie by Tim Burton is a real feast for a movie-loving person because this director is really capable of engaging in his extraordinary abilities to create exclusive worlds according to his own rules. That's why even such filmmakers like Walt Disney value him because it trusts what he does.

The DUMBO film project is not an exception. Although it has a lot to do with the original story, Tim Burton created it by his fantasy. And it is really great because we can admit that in recent years, we are getting too many remakes that are only meant to make money. And even though the purpose of this project is the same, but at least it is capable of giving us a very attractive world where the elephant Dumbo lives.

Fantasy film DUMBO - Photo credit: twttrend

Personally, for me, the storyline of this positive narrative was nothing special, even though the film itself without making big emotional waves from the scenes shown was too smooth. Apparently, because the circus world itself was worked out perfectly. 

I liked how the in-depth director tried to present the differences between a small circus and a large corporation that eats all those who can't resist. In this case, I talk about Max Medici circus, which he founded with his brother in the youth. The whole drama of the film was based on the fact that small circuses that are unable to sustain themselves are forced to stumble against the powerful corporations for whom only the money is the most important, not the emotions of the people.

Another important and, in my opinion, perhaps the most significant aspect of the film was the attitude towards animals that were forced to play in the arena. 

Adventure film DUMBO - Photo credit: twitter

It is no secret that such cruel treatment of animals, which are the victims of various circuses, is happening in our time. This theme was very well-played - the director via some scenes was able to show us all the consequences of the exploitation of the animals because of the personal intentions of some loyal people.

Eliminating more serious moments in the movie, which there were only two, everything was focused on the adventure of the elephant and his liberation. And even though I liked this operation, but looking at it, I had many thoughts and memories of another movie about a captive animal that the good Samaritans are trying to save. Certainly, there are many films on such topics that are often shown by our country's channels on Sunday morning. That's why I think it was the biggest disappointment because the story is not emotional, but just the story of another miserable animal told too smoothly.

Family film DUMBO - Photo credit: polygon

The Characters

Dumbo character was pretty well created using computer graphics. So that we could understand the character's feelings, his eyes, usually on the sides of the real elephants, creators moved closer to the trunk. Together with huge ears, they really cause affection, and at some point, they can make you cry. Perhaps, we get this reaction not only by Dumbo’s touching glance but also by the entire circus atmosphere, saturated with animal abuse.

As it was possible to guess by the features of the plot, all the characters were divided into good and bad. Someone is changing for the better, and someone gets what they deserve for their crimes. This does not make the DUMBO remake a mediocre film, rather a kindly reminder of important truths.

Both the elephant Dumbo and the people around him enchanted with their naivety and goodness. It is a pleasure to look at such characters for two reasons: they fascinate by their laudable actions, and the children can learn something useful from them. 

Fantasy film DUMBO - Photo credit: imdb

The director managed to humanize the character of elephant very much, so it will be easy for every viewer, especially children, to identify with the Dumbo. Maybe that's why Dambis himself becomes a star in the film. And it doesn't matter what the actors are on the human side of the film.

Milly and Joe are children of the Holt Farrier who lost his hand in the First World War. The kids were growing up in a circus. They recently lost their mother, and therefore perfectly understand the feelings of the elephant, who was forcibly separated from his mother-elephant and trying to help him reunite with her.

Milly Farrier : [from sneak peek] Hi, baby Dumbo, welcome to the circus. We're all family here, no matter how small.

Credit: imdb

Serious Milly, dreaming of escaping from the circus and becoming a great scientist, Tim Burton gives the features of many of its iconic heroes. She is well aware of the laws under which the world of adults acts and sometimes makes remarks that may seem correct, but too abstruse and philosophical. This, however, is not very striking, since literary truths are spoken by almost all the heroes of DUMBO.

The antagonist in the film was charismatic, but so cliché and unpleasant that I felt bored when watched at him. And the reason he has become such is a million times seen.

Adventure film DUMBO - Photo credit: imdb

The Technical Side

One aspect we should not really worry about when waiting for Tim Burton's films is the visual part. And DUMBO did not become an exception. As in the previous director's works, in DUMBO, Tim Burton paid much attention to decorations and special effects that allowed to dive into this magical journey through the circus world. Effects are of high quality the same as the heroes' costumes, hairstyles, and makeup.

Colors in the film are all dark in absolute: dark red, dark yellow, and similar. Often everything is going in dirty tents; all are in dirty clothes, sooty, ugly. Certain pompous beauty appears in the second part of the film, where everything is conveyed with absurd increased volume. We see a very large park where all the dreams come true. Many colors, although only the signs of industrialization and burning coal's smoke are around the park. Circus artists are shining with beauty.

In a word, there is a very pronounced contrast between the created magical world and the outer world, from where even the Medici circus itself arrives. This is a very typical phenomenon for Tim Burton, who loves contrasting phenomena, especially in visual terms.

DUMBO review - Photo credit: wallpapershome

Another great moment was the soundtrack. The great music created by Danny Elfman has repeatedly forced to feel many various emotions - starting with joy and ending with fear. But that is Tim Burton. His films must always have frightening sounds, even though this is a bright project.

The work of the operator did not make a big impression, but it was not bad. Yet the scenes with Dumbo and his flying in the circus were really fantastic, but everywhere else, this is a standard work with no-use of exceptional video technique.

I cannot say anything bad about audio and video editing. The action was organized in a very orderly manner, so the storyline of the film progressed smoothly. And the sound strengthens in the toughest moments, making the film a bit better in the technical plan.

DUMBO interviews - Burton, Keaton, De Vito, Farrell, Eva Green - Video credit: youtube

The Collective Work Of Actors 

Only such a caliber cinema master as Tim Burton could bring together such a striking group of actors. It is just a pity that not all the people in this film were able to fully show their talent.

In the main roles, we could see always sad Colin Farrell. Eva Green also appeared on the screen very charmingly but briefly, which has recently become a new director's muse, capable of replacing Helena Bonham Carter in this range.

But for whom I'm really glad about are the stars of Batman Returns - Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton, who not only resisted each other again but also performed their characters well. They were the brightest and most interesting heroes after the elephant, who I was happy to see.

Among other actors, we could see legendary Alan Arkin, Roshan Seth, Joseph Gatt, and Nico Parker with Finley Hobbins.

A great group of actors who know how to play but the elephant created with digital technology overshadowed all of them.

DUMBO review - Photo credit: imdb

On A Final Note

DUMBO is a neat and visually enchanting remake film from the legendary Walt Disney film studio, which is capable of providing fun one-off entertainment for the family. But apart from beautiful decorations, compelling special effects, a wonderful team of actors and critique of circuses for the exploitation of animals, the film can't offer anything that can thrill the heart as the 1941 original did.

To sum up, this is a beautiful, simple, but not a very sincere story from master Tim Burton, but many other of his original works simply overshadowed this film. At the same time, DUMBO does not make a great shame on the creator because his visible circus world is really fascinating.

If not the Walt Disney film studio's frames, I think we could get a much darker Burton's work. So far, we are looking forward to other master's projects that, I hope, will be not based on any animation, but created by the fantasy of Tim Burton. 

Movie Review: DUMBO - Photo credit: youtube

There are many replicas in DUMBO that can remind the viewers who have forgotten life's truth and push them in the right direction. Whether it concerns the topic of parenting, the importance of friendship and mutual hel, or the rule that cruelty and greed are always punishable. And this is also not the worst incentive to watch the DUMBO. 

This is a lovely film that deserves to be discovered by each generation. No matter how old you are, you just might get something out of it. 

Credit: imdb.

My rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 47/100
Metacritic: 51/100
Critics average: 60/100
IMDb: 6.7/10

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