Dumbo Review

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'Dumbo' is in cinemas 28 March. 'Dumbo' is in cinemas 28 March.

Charming, witty, and gentle, 'Dumbo' soars back on to silver screens in brand-new live-action beauty and a distinct air of melancholia.


Melancholy is certainly the word for this film's overall vibe. With its main premise surrounding animals (and people!) in a travelling circus, it's hard not to feel things the whole way through.

That's not to say the entirety of the story is a wet blanket; it's full to bursting with beauty, warmth and moments of sheer joy... However at the end of the day Dumbo must overcome many obstacles to find his happiness, and those obstacles are dealt with in true Disney form (absent parent included) with the help of genius director Tim Burton, to create a truly emotive and powerful piece of cinema.

The first glimpse we get of Dumbo is his eyes, and they are not easily forgotten. He is beautiful, and full of expression. There's a shot of him with mime make-up on that has circulated since the trailer dropped, and it's just as heartbreaking as you'd expect within the context of the film.

Perhaps it was more realistic back in 1941 to imagine an animal being made fun of for its appearance, but in 2019 it's simply deplorable... Especially considering how delicate and gorgeous Disney have depicted Dumbo in this iteration. This means that the scenes relevant to this idea in the film are not only hard to believe but also devastating to endure.


Not only is this a project that has seemingly been crafted by hand with love and care in every stitch, but the cast seems to have been selected with all things considered as well. Finley Hobbins and Nico Parker have a bright future ahead of them if 'Dumbo' is anything to go by. Their portrayals of war veteran Holt Farrier's (Colin Farrell) children are wonderful. Nico Parker in particular is a shining example of a young girl with big dreams and a powerful mind.

Danny DeVito steps into the role of Max Medici (the ringmaster) and nails it, his larger-than-life and childlike disposition are perfect for the task at hand.

Michael Keaton is suitably sinister, taking on V. A. Vandevere (what a perfectly villainous name!) who plans to exploit Dumbo for money.

Eva Green as French trapeze artist Colette Marchant is a dream, and glides across the screen even when she's not flying through the air.

Of course, aside from a stunning cast and a great story, a Tim Burton film is elevated to new heights with music from Danny Elfman, and this one's got it. Danny's signature darkness and soaring choral vocals fit into the 'Dumbo' universe like a satisfying final puzzle piece.

It seems that 2019 is the year of Disney live-action remakes, with a total of three scheduled over the next four months. Let's just hope the company invest as much time, effort and heart in the next two ('Aladdin', 'The Lion King') as they have with 'Dumbo', because it seems they got the formula just right.

★★★★★

'Dumbo' is in cinemas 28 March.

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