Dumbo (2019) Review


Dumbo is certainly a classic from the old days of Disney. I’m sure just about everyone is familiar at least with the concept of the character so a remake definitely had the deck stacked against it. Ultimately it’s a fun remake and it is quite different from the original which helps it stand out. That being said, it doesn’t quite have the charm of the original as it cuts out all of the more fantastical elements to make this a more grounded experience.

The movie starts with things looking hopeless for the heroes as Holt arrives back home from being in the army only to find that things are in disarray. His wife died and the circus they belong to has fallen under tough times. Holt lost an arm and his kids are also not doing so well as they have stopped enjoying their youth. Then the owner of the circus, Max ended up buying an Elephant with a kid but the kid has huge ears and is the iconic Dumbo. There are no refunds but Dumbo wows the audience with his flying. Are things finally on the up and up for the heroes or is the powerful Mr. Vandevere about to put an end to this?

Dumbo is a fairly light hearted film at its core but it does get serious at times like in the intro. Most of the characters outside of the main ones aren’t the nicest folks as seen with how they treat Dumbo and the others. They tend to meet rather intense ends though which was good to see since picking on Dumbo is quite mean spirited.

Dumbo is a fun character although he is always very nervous. You’d like to see Dumbo take charge and just start running around the place after a little bit but it’s not really until the film is ending that he finally gets brave. If we ever get a sequel then I like to think he will be able to use his new experience flying to become a true hero to the rest of the elephants. In a way he can be their champion.

As the main character, Holt does well. He struggles with some self doubt at times but for the most part I thought he handled the situations in stride. It’s not as if it’s easy to adjust to only having one arm but you won’t see him complain about it even once during the film. The most difficult part is really connecting with his two kids and that’s not something he is really able to do for most of the film. He doesn’t have quite as strong an attachment to Dumbo and mostly he’s focused on just trying to learn a new act.

So I liked him well enough but the only time I got a little nervous was when the film introduced Colette and started dancing around making that a potential romance subplot. That would have been horrible considering that his wife just died so this would be moving on way too quickly. Fortunately the film never really goes in that direction and so I like to think they remained as good friends. I’ll give the film a lot of credit for showing some restraint here since that can be pretty rare in these things.

Colette was a fun heroine as well. Initially when she appears in a crazy getup with Vandevere you sort of figure she’s going to be an antagonist as well. One of those villains who is quite smug about being rich but her character ends up being a lot more complex than that which was appreciated. She had a good arc and did try her best performing along with Dumbo. It was an unexpected character change after the initial scenes but a welcome one to be sure. They even had a team up near the end against Vandevere.

Vandevere certainly works as the main villain as well. The guy just wants as much money as possible and will do whatever he can to accomplish this goal. Max was a little naive to really think that partnering with this guy would be such a good idea. Particularly since the circus had been doing well. Vandevere certainly panics a lot towards the end so you can definitely say that plot line was resolved in a satisfying way.

As for the two kids Joe and Milly, I wouldn’t say they were all that good here. Even if they helped give a positive connotation to the word “Dumbo” I’m not sure about calling the elephant that. Seems like it would just be traumatic right? They (Milly in particular) do a good job of training Dumbo at least and are the ones who form a good bond with him but if anything I think that role could have been given to Holt. The issue with the kids is that they aren’t really ready to take on opponents like Vandevere.

They mean well but they don’t know how to banter yet and tend to say things at the wrong time which puts the other characters in a pickle. Finally you have Max who made for a fun captain. He brings in a lot of the humor type scenes and is fairly over the top as you would expect. The guy always wants to be on the winning side so if something earns money then he loves it. If not then don’t expect him to be a happy camper. At the end of the day he does step up though.

So by and large it’s a fun story. It’s one that feels considerably different from the original Dumbo movie but the story is solid all the same. The effects look nice enough but what really stands out here is the soundtrack. The movie has a lot of themes like something out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films or even Spider-Man 3. The themes have a very epic feel to them which may not always match the scenes but sound epic under any context. It was very surprising to see this film have such a great soundtrack but it absolutely amped up the experience. Dumbo’s writing was also good so that helps round things out nicely as well.

Overall, Dumbo is a good remake of the original. It really hits on the important aspects of the movie such as having a solid cast of characters and flowing pretty well. You won’t be bored here and while Dumbo gets bullied, the film doesn’t take it too far which is good. It would be annoying if Dumbo had to go through a lot. Like for instance there is one scene where it looks like the clowns are going to throw water on Dumbo which would have been awful but fortunately they didn’t do that as it was a different act. It’s little things like that which help the film from going too far. Mix in the great soundtrack and you’ve got a pretty solid movie here.

Overall 7/10

Dumbo Review

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Dumbo is one of the oldest Disney films, but that didn’t stop it from being a box office hit. It’s easy to see why you could like Dumbo as it’s a simple, but direct film. It cuts to the chase right away since it’s so short and the characters can be fun. It’s definitely not amazing, but I was glad to see Dumbo’s mother take out the human with the whip. Those guys definitely needed to be taught their place!

The plot of the movie is that an Elephant is born with very large ears. The others decide that this deformity means that he should turn in his elephant card and they basically decide to give him the silent treatment. Dumbo’s mom tries to help, but she is put into solitary. Dumbo’s pretty sad at this turn of events, but luckily he meets up with Timothy Q. Timothy has never liked bullies so he puts the other elephants in their place and tries to cheer Dumbo up. He shows the elephant the meaning of friendship and compassion in the face of adversity. He may be small, but he has a big heart!

Timothy really steals the show as he’s easily the best character in the film. His scenes are always a lot of fun like when he intimidated the elephants. He gets Dumbo to get out of his shell and is directly responsible for the film having any kind of happy ending. Without him, the film wouldn’t have been nearly as good. Dumbo’s a decent character, but not really my kind of main character. He’s a little too quiet and gets pushed around by everyone else all the time. A little more spark and intensity from Dumbo would have definitely been appreciated. The ability to fly with his ears is quite awesome though and he should be proud of them. The other Elephants are just jealous and now the world will be as well since he has become such a sensation!

I also liked the birds who flew around as they were the only ones to get the edge on Timothy at one point. While they were a little hostile at first, they ended up being good allies in the end. They showed up after a very intense scene as Timothy and Dumbo found out why you should never drink any kind of alcoholic beverage. They had a very intense acid dream where Elephants merged and the pink lights tried to blind you. I thought that was very intense and while the scene did last a while, it wasn’t painfully long like something out of 2001 the Space Odyssey. The scene was fun and handled with a good amount of tact.

That also brings me into one of the main positives for the film, which is that the animation holds up incredibly well considering how old this film is. This was in the 40’s, but you could easily mistake it for an 80’s-90’s film. It’s sad that we have animation that is nearly 100 years old, yet can beat out some of the modern cartoons like Uncle Grandpa or even Teen Titans Go in terms of pure animation. Dumbo just feels more solid and certainly more vibrant. The colors really leap out at you.

As this is an old film, the writing is also quite good as well. The characters all sound fairly real. Naturally the bullies aren’t likable, but at least their insults are fairly dignified and you can tell that they have a lot of experience with the insults. They are ultimately defeated and humiliated on stage so they should have probably realized that they were doomed to fall.

My only real problem with the film is that things can get a little too sad for Dumbo. At one point, he is reduced to being a clown and jumping into a pie. The fall was quite large and he actually got slightly injured, which was a big no no for me. Luckily, Dumbo tipped the scales at the end, but some more domination from the young lead would have been a lot of fun as well. Of course, the film was quite short so it didn’t have that much time for Dumbo to really show off his moves, but if he was older, he could have handled the situation a little better.

Overall, Dumbo’s a good film. It’s very short so there’s not a whole lot more to say about it. It’s very peaceful and you’ll enjoy watching it as a calming experience. Once again, I’ve got to say that the animation is very impressive and that factor alone makes it completely worth seeing. You’ll quickly forget that this film came out wayyyyy back in the 1940’s. The intro was also neat as he probably helped to invent the old tale of how babies were actually dropped at your door step by a large bird. Even Yoshi’s Island had fun with that in one of the games as we learned Mario’s true origin. Dumbo never got as popular as the other Disney films, but it can hold its own. I’d recommend checking this film out so you can be ready to the remake. I just hope that the new Dumbo film ends up being good as a film about any animal can always be verrrrry dangerous!

Overall 6/10