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Disney's next big live-action remake of its animated classics is here in the form of Dumbo. For the most part, Disney has had great success with both critics and fans when it comes to these remakes, but here at CinemaBlend, we're not quite sure that Dumbo is going to be the next big Disney hit. Feelings are pretty mixed here between those that feel Dumbo is a fun time spent with a very cute elephant, and those that feel the film simply fails to soar.
News Director Jessica Rawden wrote the official CinemaBlend review and while she gave it only a slight recommendation at three stars out of five, she found the film to have more going for it than against it, saying...
The original Disney animated classic ends at the point when the world discovers that Dumbo can fly. In the new live-action version, that's only the beginning. The revelation that a circus has a flying elephant, obviously, makes the big eared pachyderm a major attraction, but it also draws the attention of others, like theme park impresario V.A. Vandevere, played by Michael Keaton. Colin Ferrell stars as the World War I vet who returns to the circus he left to find himself, and his children, put in a position to care for the baby elephant.
The one thing potentially more surprising than Disney choosing Dumbo for the remake treatment at all may have been the decision to hire Tim Burton to direct the film. Burton is known for his bringing a very dark tone to his films, and while some Disney movies have their dark moments, Dumbo isn't the first one you might think of, (although the Pink Elephants sequence is the stuff of little kids' nightmares).
Staff writer Mike Reyes felt that Dumbo was a return to form for Burton, showing us a side we haven't seen in a long time.
On the whole, CinemaBlend project manager Cody Beck felt that Burton's take on the material worked, largely thanks to another solid score from longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman and some of the best CGI we've seen to date.
While some at CinemaBlend felt that the good outweighed the rougher parts of Dumbo, not everybody here agrees. Events Editor Eric Eisenberg felt that, while there were certainly some positive elements, the film as a whole just ended up average as a result. Certainly not the worst of the Disney remakes, but not the best by a long shot. According to Eric...
From there, however, we get to the voices who felt the Dumbo crashed and burned more than he flew. CB's Braden Roberts felt that for a movie that was designed to be a spectacle, there just wasn't anything there to wow the audience...
Disappointment is apparently the word of the day, as CinemaBlend Managing Director Sean O'Connell used the exact same word to open his comments about Dumbo. In the end, a remake needs to do something to justify the decision to remake it, and in his eyes Dumbo failed to do that.
As for me, I land somewhere on the "slightly positive" side of the big top. I appreciated the fact that Dumbo was actually more sequel than remake, something future films in this vein might consider, and I think the movie should be absolutely commended for making one particular decision that just blew me away for most of the film (no spoilers). I do also think that while the film does have dark elements, for a certain generation of kids, this movie could be one of those films they watch on an endless loop. For the older set, however, it's not going to become a new Disney classic. In the end, it reminded me of another Disney remake that I appreciated, but didn't love...
Few at CinemaBlend are likely to tell their friends to rush out and see Dumbo, though some would certainly recommend seeing it, one way or another. It has elements worth appreciating, but it's not likely to be a memorable Disney remake, even if you're only comparing it to the films coming out this year.