Nico Parker as Milly, left, in a scene from the movie Dumbo.
Nico Parker as Milly, left, in a scene from the movie Dumbo. Disney

MOVIE REVIEW: Classic tale soars to new heights

EVEN though it was released in cinemas nearly 80 years ago, everyone knows Dumbo.

You may not have ever watched the original animated film in its entirety, but you know the gist of the story.

A young circus elephant is ridiculed for his oversized ears, but with the help of a mouse he learns to fly using those big ears as wings.

The fact that the original film is only 64 minutes long is an advantage for director Tim Burton, who helms Disney's new live-action remake.

The original premise is just the starting point for this new take on the classic tale.

While the original film ends with Dumbo's flying feat, Burton goes well beyond that to explore what post-war America would make of a flying elephant.

A scene from the movie Dumbo.
A scene from the movie Dumbo. Disney

The story begins with injured war vet Holt Farrier's (Colin Farrell) return home from service to find his wife has passed away and the circus they once performed for as a duo has fallen on hard times.

While the tight-knit community of performers has looked after his two children, Milly and Joe, circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) has sold off his horses.

Holt is enlisted to look after Max's latest purchase, a pregnant elephant he hopes will reinvigorate interest in the big top.

But when Mrs Jumbo gives birth to a big-eared baby, only Holt's children can see the potential in the peculiar pachyderm. There are no talking or singing animals in this version, which adds to the realism.

Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins in a scene from the movie Dumbo.
Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins in a scene from the movie Dumbo. Disney

Milly and Joe eventually discover Dumbo can fly and after wowing audiences in Missouri, he goes from laughing stock to circus star - attracting the attention of slick entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton).

The Medici troupe are welcomed into the fold at Vandevere's extravagant Dreamland theme park, but not everything is as its seems. The pressure is on for Dumbo to perform with French trapeze artist Colette (Eva Green); everyone else, in Vandevere's eyes, is dispensable.

Eva Green as Colette with the titular Dumbo.
Eva Green as Colette with the titular Dumbo. Disney

It's up to the misfits to band together and reunite Dumbo with his mother.

Burton is in top form, creating a beautiful and whimsical world with dashes of darkness and his big-eyed CGI star will melt your heart.

This story goes well beyond the original, and it has to for modern audiences, but still remains true to its spirit.

Burton's Dumbo deserves to become a new family classic.

 

Dumbo (PG) 

Stars: Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Michael Keaton.  

Director: Tim Burton  

Verdict: 4 stars  



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