To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Dumbo Ticket

Dumbo Eva Green sits on the net with Dumbo, staring at a feather

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, and Disney aficionados far and wide! It’s time to step right up and see the latest wonder of the world, the one, the only, the absolutely adorable Dumbo! The latest in Disney’s remake crusade to update the classics, this Tim Burton film is ready to take off into the wild blue yonder, stealing your heart in the process. But, of course, there’s another question pertaining to this circus of delights; one that we find ourselves asking quite often, asides from that one where we wonder what we know about a movie like Dumbo. To 3D, or not to 3D?

If you want to find out how much we enjoyed Dumbo as a movie, take a look at our official review. But if you’re wondering if this particular circus is worth the extra 3D ticket money, or if you should save that money to buy some peanuts, you’ve come to the right place. Step under the big top, and get ready to see if the prince of the skies flies off the big screen!

While there’s certainly a lot of thrills and excitement to see in Dumbo’s finished product, it’s not a perfect 3D fit. For a good piece of the film, what we see on screen is focused on a family drama that plays out in the confines of a circus, and ponders the morals of using live animals in entertainment. But that being said, there’s still a lot of fantastic detail that the 3D conversion to Dumbo adds to the visuals that are presented; and once the higher flying action kicks in, the additional visual flare definitely shines.

There's certainly a lot of work that went into the planning and effort of Dumbo's 3D coat of paint. Quite a lot of detail is drawn in the images shown, and while it's not a total showstopper, there's a lot of panache that's on display. Though as far as 3D movies go, this is a cohesive whole that doesn't stumble on any particular aspect, but rather does a serviceable job of being a good finished product. There's nothing wrong with that, for sure, but it's something to think about in the long run.

There are a couple of flourishes in Dumbo really take advantage of the opportunity to point objects out at the crowd. All are very subtle but important things, like Michael Keaton’s cane, Colin Farrell’s hand, or Eva Green gesturing to the audience as she’s about to engage in her act. There’s even some water splashing that looks like it’s going to come out of the frame and soak you to the bone. But if you’re looking for huge scale eye popping thrills involving items flying out of the screen, then you might be a bit disappointed.

Winning the Before/Beyond The Window tug of war in Dumbo’s 3D conversion, the Beyond factor pulls more of the visual weight this time around. Characters and their environments are properly spaced, and the spacing between characters and each other is exemplary as well. Crowd shots at the circus really sparkle, with the feel of an actual audience being conveyed to a tee. Unfortunately, the background shots for Dumbo aren’t as limitless as one would want, and if they are the eye is drawn more to the close up action throughout the film.

Brightness is a factor that tends to be a common weak point for 3D films, as the greyish tint of the glasses required tends to wash out the colors a bit. Also, there’s some variance depending on how well your local theater tends to their projectors and screens, so Dumbo’s brightness in 3D won’t be consistent across all screens. With those stipulations, I’m happy to report that Dumbo still shines in beautiful color with its 3D conversion. Besides the slight washing of colors, again expected with putting on 3D glasses that correspond with the image on the screen, you’re not going to lose any action in the dark.

Watching a 3D movie, any audience member is going to be tempted to either remove or slide their glasses up at any point during the film. Whether it’s to give your eyes a break, or to see the historic blur that’s always been a part of 3D presentations, you’ll notice that in fact the image in front of you is blurred to varied degrees. Dumbo uses this blur to full effect, with even the closest of closeups taking on nuanced degrees of distortion, with only seconds long moments of 2D appearance in order to help anchor the elements of a particular scene. Backgrounds also get a pretty big dose of blurred wonder, showing just how much manipulation is used to make the film as 3D as it possibly could be.

Possibly the most important factor of a 3D film is how comfortable the audience is with watching it. In terms of Dumbo’s comfort levels, everything is a-ok, as the film doesn’t cause nausea or eye strain of any sort. With a crisp, clear visual intelligence poured into every frame, your eyes won’t burn and your stomach will be clear of nausea. This is particularly comforting if you’re bringing your little ones to see Dumbo, as there won’t be any messy clean-up involved after the show.

Dumbo does a pretty fine job of being a 3D spectacle. It isn’t a full stop must see in the visually enhanced format, but it’s certainly not a waste of time either. Rather, it’s a pretty good example of a middle of the road 3D conversion, which adds some flash but doesn’t go the extra mile to be essential viewing in this premium format. If you're looking for a special flare to your showing of Dumbo, it might be a good idea to check out the IMAX format presentation instead.

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Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.