Movie Review: Dumbo
Disney have somehow managed to peddle circus animals and ringmaster caricatures frequently this past year or two. The One and Only Ivan was an odd project for Bryan Cranston, and a spectacularly dull film with an empty, shallow heart. Dumbo, a modernised adaptation of the mediocre 40s classic, is just as emotionally devoid and decrepit as the conglomerate behind it, who peddle the funhouse shtick to millions. Where the appeal for the glitz and glamour of a straw-infused, oversized tent filled with vaguely unhappy animals and minimum wage trapeze artists comes from is one of life’s greatest mysteries.
Pairing up Danny DeVito and Colin Farrell as our leading lads is certainly a good start. Pooling Michael Keaton, Eva Green, and Alan Arkin is even better. But they take centre stage, and our titular character, perhaps due to their lack of dialogue, is left to toil in the shadows of greater performers. Suffering away in his tortured CGI state, our eponymous elephant isn’t all that impressive. Look at how far we’ve come with graphical enhancements. Jurassic Park still looks fairly good, especially if you’ve got a hangover while watching it, but Dumbo feels like a regression of how these effects should be utilised. We’re not putting the right foot forward by engaging with these sloppy cash-ins, the biggest draw of all here will be young cinema debutants, snot drooling from their noses and tears in their eyes as they get to see an elephant flutter about the grey tones of Burton’s deflated wonder sphere.
Laughably vague direction and poor-quality content on the whole, we can expect nothing less from latter-day Tim Burton. His directing tropes weren’t all that impressive to begin with, but his flair was the one tool he could consistently rely on. Collaborating with Disney, a company looking to balance selling out their beloved classics and protecting their nostalgia, his work fees exceptionally neutered. Everything is glazed over with that blurry Disney charm, a feeling that everything is faux and staged on a sound studio, but a genuine belief from the crew that they can sell this as the real deal. Unimpressive is the nicest compliment you can give to Dumbo.
Such a grand collection of cast members, yet such a sickening waste of time. Dumbo is another bit of cannon fodder for the imaginatively bankrupt Disney model. Pulling their animated classics out of the vault for a live-action adaptation, flogging every last penny out of its golden age, before throwing it back into the vault, not to be seen until the indoor money pool runs out of hundred-dollar bills. Although, compared to the box office rankings of Aladdin and The Lion King, Burton’s Dumbo is a dud. Not just artistically, but financially, morally, and ethically devoid of any hope or care for those that treasure their nostalgia for the original.