It’s very rare that Disney’s animation turned into live-action films misfire – but Dumbo doesn’t really fly at all.
This work from acclaimed director Tim Burton (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is kind of soulless and never drums up any consistency of excitement.
It lacks any real extended ingenuity and ends up being a ‘cut of paste’ of the much-loved animation – but lacking the massive ingredient of a heartbeat.
Colin Farrell stars as a war veteran – who has lost his right arm in conflict – returning to the circus that he made his name as stallion-riding Holt Farrier.
But times are hard. He has lost his wife to illness when he was away, leaving him to look after his two children – Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) – back at the declining circus led by Danny DeVito’s Max Medici. This story alone is woefully under-explored.
Farrier is then tasked with looking after a pregnant elephant, but when its offspring comes out with giant ears – and the kids realise it can fly – the fortunes of the circus change.
This brings in greedy silver-tongued entrepreneur VA Vandevere (DeVito’s Batman Returns co-star Michael Keaton) – with aerial artist Colette Marchant (Casino Royale’s Eva Green) on his arm – to swoop in to make the elephant Dumbo – along with the rest of the circus troupe – a little star.
But alas everything is not what it seems and it all meanders on in a predictably unspectacular – almost un-Disney-like – way.
The entire cast – bar arguably Keaton and DeVito – are extremely stereotypical, and this just seems to be trying to capitalise on similarly themed films such as The Greatest Showman – just with a smidgen of the enthrallment.
Maybe the material wasn’t suited to director Burton – who usually buts a ‘darker’ stamp on his movies – which leaves this looking a little too moody to feel like your typical Disney film.
If it helps, Dumbo is really cute – but bar that it simply lacks the charm of the animation.
ESP Rating: 2.5/5
Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny Devito, Eva Green, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins & Alan Arkin
Running Time: 1 Hr 52 Mins
Director: Tim Burton
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