With DUMBO The Disney company is delivering the next live-action remake of a classic and is taking bold narrative paths. But does that automatically result in a good film? We reveal this and more in our review of the film.
The Plot Summary
Max Medici’s (Danny DeVito) circus has seen better days. And the new baby elephant with the giant ears only adds to people’s ridicule. The washed-up circus star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) is supposed to take care of it and get the problem solved. But when Holt’s children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) find out that Dumbo can fly with his extraordinary ears, it’s not just the struggling circus troupe that puts all their hope in the little pachyderm. The shady entrepreneur VA Vandevere (Michael Keaton) also senses a sensation and of course big money and persuades Medici to sell him little Dumbo as an attraction for his “Dreamland” amusement park. At the side of the charming aerial acrobat Colette Marchant (Eva Green), Dumbo sets off to soar – but dark secrets lie hidden beneath the shiny surface of Dreamland!
Movie explanation of the ending
It’s an irony of fate, or rather of the US economy: the billion-dollar Disney company takes over the production company 20th Century Fox, laying off several thousand employees in the process and massively cutting back on plans for Fox’s annual output, at the same time A film will be released every month that demonstrates exactly this entertainment strategy to critics. We’re talking about the live-action adaptation of the animated classic “Dumbo” by Tim Burton (“The Island of Special Children”) not only gave it a new, dark, fairytale-like look, but also embedded it in a film that, at first glance, pilloried the very company that put millions of dollars on the table for the creation of the elephant story. Now one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other. What happened behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Company in March 2019 could not have had any influence on the creation of “Dumbo 2019” from a purely temporal point of view; after all, the first thing about it was already released in July 2017. But now at the latest release date it seems a little cynical. It’s a good thing that the animated elephant with the giant ears (the working title of “Dumbo” was “Big Ears” based on Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes”) looks so cute that the initially duplicitous message and later in favor of a different message anyway no longer perceives the dropped message from the competition-devouring company as a problem.
Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), along with Dumbo.
He’s really cute, this beady-eyed elephant with the sail ears; Of all things, it was “Dumbo” that was met with the greatest skepticism after the announcement of various Disney remakes a few years ago. And in fact, it is primarily thanks to the continually increasing possibilities within animation technology that it is now possible to completely animate a (flying) elephant on the computer without it looking anywhere near as embarrassing as it currently does The first live-action film of the radio play classic “Benjamin Blümchen” is presented in its trailer. Embedded in a circus setting that is equally detailed, playful and yet melancholic, which would also pass for a “dark ‘Greatest Showman'”, a wonderful atmosphere of wonder unfolds in “Dumbo”, which makes it tangible why the topic of circus fascinates young people in particular . There is something to discover in every nook and cranny: cute white mice in ringmaster outfits, magnificently decorated horses, caravans stuffed to the ceiling with stuff and spectacular costumes – “Dumbo” is, first and foremost, a visually stunning film. Danny Elfman’s music fits right in; Unfortunately, the “Justice League” composer means it a little too well. “Dumbo” is literally covered in music. While the new interpretations of well-known “Dumbo” pieces are mostly convincing, there is hardly a scene in the film in which the orchestra cannot be heard. That’s just too much in the long run.
What the film does well, on the other hand, is the way it deals with the original story – at least if you judge how surprisingly high this makes “Dumbo 2019” unique. Director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger (“Ghost in the Shell”) from the beginning they are only loosely based on the animated original before they even say goodbye to it completely in the second half. This will please all those who see no use in the mere live-action adaptation of the Disney animated classics outside of the sure box office hits. At the same time, today’s “Dumbo” never comes close to the one from 1941 emotionally. By making the circus star Holt and his two children Milly and Joe the narrative focus of Tim Burton, the fate of the outsider Dumbo, who is ridiculed because of his giant ears, is only incidentally illuminated. A few scenes in which the kids become friends with the elephant, one in which the mother elephant protects her young from the greedy eyes of the crowd, the devastating incident in the circus ring and then follows the heartbreaking ballad “Baby Mine” in the original, in which Dumbo and his mother can only touch each other through the bars. But it’s not just that this song, which has made generations cry, doesn’t have nearly as much heartbreak power as the original due to the minimalist guitar remake. Since you haven’t really been able to build an emotional bond with the baby elephant up to this point, it’s hardly possible that what’s happening here will affect you so much. Tim Burton literally rushes through the well-known stations with his film; Inevitably some feelings are left behind.
Colette Marchant (Eva Green) and Dumbo become a team.
As already indicated, “Dumbo” finally moves completely away from the original in the second half. With the appearance of the entertainment tycoon VA Vandevere, whom “Birdman” star Michael Keaton embodies perfectly as a big-dreaming and yet extremely arrogant genius, “Dumbo” also becomes a classic adventure film in which people with a certain basic naivety try to make a small one To free elephants from captivity of a large corporation. Above all, it is the critical component with regard to such corporations, which prefer to buy successful attractions from outside rather than work their way up to something big from a small age, which is clearly reminiscent of the economic strategy of the real Disney Company. On the one hand, this is remarkable: Who would have expected that Disney, of all people, would wave through such a self-critical story? On the other hand, towards the end this message gives way to a much more conciliatory one (“No wild animals for entertainment purposes!”), which even a company like Disney can hardly get its fingers burned by. Not least because animals are no longer part of attractions in the Disney parks (which were obviously the inspiration for the design of VA Vandevere’s theme park). So everything continues to fit with the family-friendly image of the mouse company, which is at least taking new, more mature directorial paths with the engagement of Tim Burton (the implementation of the infamous “Pink Elephant” scene alone would hardly have been as powerful without the visionary director like here). However, nothing really sticks – it is questionable whether in a few years as many people will remember the Dumbo from 2019 as the one from 1941. In any case, it wasn’t because of the big googly eyes.
Conclusion: Tim Burton deserves credit for following through with his own vision of a live-action Dumbo film rather than simply copying the original. The effects and the melancholic, fairytale-like circus setting are also convincing. At the same time, “Dumbo” from 2019 never develops a comparative emotional punch like the original. The first half of the remake seems too rushed and the second half seems too half-baked in its anti-entertainment group message for you to really buy the film’s message.
“Dumbo” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from March 28th.