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| 1 April 2019 | Reply

Written by
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, and the most adorable CGI elephant ever
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Tim Burton and Walt Disney’s big-eared flying elephant prove a solid match in this rather simple but definitely enjoyable live action (read “CGI heavy”) adaptation of the much-loved 1941 family favourite.

Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) returns from World War One minus an arm, to find his wife has passed and his circus act horses long gone. Circus boss Max Medici (Danny DeVito) rehires him anyway, largely to muck out the elephant stalls, and it’s here we meet the new-born Dumbo, the most adorable CGI elephant we’re ever likely to see.

The elephant is an instant subject of scorn and derision, though, due to his over-sized ears, but Farrier’s kids and the passive pachyderm soon discover that given a feather, Dumbo can actually fly like a bird.

Enter rival V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) and his glamourous escort/acrobatic star Colette Marchant (Eva Green) who offer Medici a false partnership in order to surreptitiously acquire Dumbo’s act for his own circus, ironically a Disneyland-like theme park. Once Vandevere learns Dumbo’s provenance he decides to have Mrs Jumbo put down in order to focus her youngster on his anticipated and by-now sold-out act, much to the dismay of the baby, who couldn’t care less about performing and just wants to be with Mum again.

Up until this point the Farrier kids are the only ones who really care about Dumbo rather than what they can get from his gift and his act – with them having lost their own mother they are in a unique empathetic position.

Trigger Warning: You’d be advised to pack tissue – there are some heart-wrenching moments related to the heartless separation of Dumbo and his mother and some of the animal treatment throughout, and the movie takes a reasonably firm position for animal rights, especially towards the end.

Dumbo is a hyper-stylish visual treat – Burton’s unique style is evident in every sumptuously realised frame. Colours look almost enhanced and cartoonesque, the vibrant framing is superb and the light unnaturally brilliant, even in dark scenes.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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