Film Review: Dumbo
PUBLISHED: 09:25 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:25 02 April 2019
Another classic Disney film gets a live adaptation but what did Mark Goodin make of it?
The live action adaptations of beloved Disney classics have thus far been rather bland affairs. Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book and Andy Serkis’ Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, though visually stunning, lacked the heart of the original material they were so clearly trying to emulate.
Thankfully, the latest attempt to breathe new life into another popular Disney feature is an altogether more successful affair and, while Tim Burton never quite manages to capture the heart of the film’s predecessor, it is an inventive and thoroughly enjoyable film.
Burton’s film sees Max Medici’s (Danny DeVito) failing circus reinvigorated by the titular flying elephant, only for both the circus troupe and the pachyderm to come under threat when entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) purchases the circus.
Although this is one of his most family-friendly outings, the director deftly balances the light and dark of his film with typical panache, punctuating his bright and vibrant world- the Disneylandesque Dreamworld is a real treat- with moments of real upset – the imprisoned animals in one of Vandevere’s particularly horrid exhibits is distressing- as the rictus grinning antagonist’s true plans for Dumbo become clear.
Burton draws typically excellent performances from his cast, especially DeVito – his Medici is effectively a more amiable version of the actor’s wonderfully repulsive patriarch in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia- and Keaton, whose marvellous bewigged baddie comes across as a twisted Walt Disney.
It’s the beautifully rendered eponymous elephant who truly steals the show in this sweet and heartwarming Disney adaptation.