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Review: Dumbo

Is the film industry running out of ideas? Kirsten Murray shares her views on Tim Burton's remake of the Disney classic

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Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Danny DeVito
Length: 1h 52min

And here we have yet another Disney remake, and as always, we must ask ourselves did it really need to be made again? Or is the film industry just running out of ideas? Whilst this film probably wasn’t screaming to be made and is not award-winning or incredibly brilliant by any means, I have to confess that I enjoyed it and would describe it as a nice film with few roots from in its original animation.

Dumbo probably doesn’t strike many as a standout Disney film, but it is one of my all time favourites – therefore I was incredibly excited for this new release, purely to see more of the cute baby elephant, and in that respect I was not disappointed. The stand out feature of the film is Dumbo himself, I don’t think animation has ever created an animal so adorable and full of personality, if you leave the cinema not wanting a Dumbo of your own are you even human? So many expressions and so much emotion is conveyed in his face, from sadness to joy, and confusion to love. Director Tim Burton creates such a loveable elephant, producing heart felt moments, the most notable being the linking of trunks with his mother through the bars of her prison.

The plot itself diverts massively from the original, as Dumbo learns he can fly in the first 20 minutes of the film, and hence a whole new story is fabricated. In his usual style Burton uses elaborate animation to create Dreamland, a magical amusement park owned by Vandevere. Vandevere, played by Michael Keaton, fills the role of the typical villain and of course it is rather predictable where the plot will go from his arrival. In a story of betrayal and cruelty the circus community inevitably unite, with Dumbo as the shining hero and star of the show once more. Aside from the main plot some scenes really do pull on the heart strings in relation to animal cruelty and how they were used by humans as a form of entertainment, regardless of the morality of our actions.

However, it seems in creating such a perfect Dumbo, the rest of the characters have suffered with none of them receiving adequate character development. Despite the casting of well-known stars Colin Farrell, Eva Green and Danny DeVito, in all honesty the parts could have been filled by anyone. Holt, Colin Farrell, returns to his orphaned children after the War having lost his arm, yet his character is rather bland and boring. Furthermore, the two children who understand Dumbo the most, possess little acting ability and portray the same facial expression throughout the entire film.

Overall the film will hardly go down as a classic and has many flaws, but if you are looking for some light-hearted simple entertainment it does the job perfectly. As an escape from revision at exam time of year maybe Dumbo is exactly what you need. It may not have a particularly inventive plot or award-winning acting, but I truly believe Dumbo himself makes up for that and I was quite content to watch his personality grow as he spread love throughout the circus.

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