Dumbo Reviews: Tim Burton’s Remake Has Left Critics Underwhelmed

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Remaking a classic film is never easy but that hasn’t stopped directors from giving it a go.

Enter Tim Burton, who is at the helm of Disney’s latest efforts, a live action version of the 1941 classic Dumbo.

Associated Press

As well as snazzy special effects, the new film boasts an A-list cast, including Colin Farrell, Eva Green and Danny deVito, but it seems that may not be enough to impress.

Ahead of the film’s release this weekend, the reviews are in – and they do not speak favourably of the remake.

Here’s what the critics have had to say...

“Everything you think will happen next most emphatically does. Predictability is the driving force behind a script that also embraces a circus menagerie.”

“In the new Dumbo, our hero’s happy-sad flights of fancy aren’t the emotional culmination of the movie; they start early on and happen periodically, to gradually lesser effect.

“A bulgy little elephant, as suffused with feeling as a silent-movie clown, lofting himself into the air: That’s still a marvelous image. But the new Dumbo is a meandering parable about the world’s attempt to corrupt it.”

“It is a flightless pachyderm of a film that saddles itself with 21st-century shame at the idea of circus animals, overcomplicating the first movie, losing the directness, abandoning the lethal pathos, mislaying the songs and finally getting marooned in some sort of steampunk Jurassic Park, jam-packed with retro-futurist boredom that had the kids at the performance I attended talking among themselves.”

Empire (4/5)

“With gorgeous production design — from its initial hazy purple sunsets to the second half’s retro-futuristic aesthetic — Dumbo is another visual treat from Burton, with wit and emotion to boot.

“Enough of the original story remains, with a trippy new bubble-centric riff on the Pink Elephants sequence and a swooning Arcade Fire cover of lullaby ‘Baby Mine’ over the end credits, but it’s when Dumbo ventures into Burton’s Dreamland that it really soars.”

“Burton has always enjoyed the aesthetic of difference, freak show sensibilities, and shock value, but his decision to stick to stereotypes – as well as making Holt an amputee (which has little to do with the plot) whilst casting someone with both arms in the role – showcases a lack of commitment or interest in the reality or authenticity of the lives of people who actually live and thrive in these circumstances.”

“The actors all do what they can, but mostly get lost in the shuffle and end up with too little to do, like Alan Arkin’s cynical New York banker. [...]

“There are gorgeous images, such as the always alluring Green swinging from a giant chandelier in the big top, shedding her skirt before an aerial leap. But when that visual leaves a more captivating impression than a baby elephant spreading its ears and getting airborne like a glider, something is definitely off in the balance.”

“Its intentions seem good enough—for all its Disney-machine cynicism—that I feel bad calling it, well, bad. But it’s not a good movie.

“Dumbo is a perfunctory, tired, second-rate circus of wonderment whose limp gestures toward the fantastic freakiness of life feel lazily rehashed from its own filmmaker’s oeuvre.”

Dumbo is out in UK cinemas from Friday 29 March.


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