The Disney live action remake bandwagon rolls on, with “The Lion King” having just hit cinemas and “Dumbo” arriving on home video (yes, I’m *that* old) this Friday. While the original story of the flying elephant was a short, charming film that changed the fortunes of Walt Disney Studios in the midst of World War II, this version comes at the time where Disney have no such financial woes and are able to stretch their creative muscles. As well as a brilliantly rendered title character, director Tim Burton has in his cast an excellent Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier (in his second recent Disney role following his terrific turn in “Saving Mr. Banks”), along with two previous Burton collaborators, Michael Keaton (“Beetlejuice”, “Batman”) and Danny De Vito (“Batman Returns”).
A lot of the first half of the film plays pretty similarly to the original, but it’s the second act where the film deviates and expands on the story to make it more about the importance of Dumbo’s circus family, as well as touching on familiar Disney themes like accepting people’s differences. Burton also reunites with his long time musical collaborator Danny Elfman to craft a memorable score befitting of such a highly thought of film.
While remakes of animated classics like “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” have stayed pretty close to their source material, “Dumbo” like “Maleficent” and “Alice in Wonderland” before it, is a great example of how a remake can be done when a filmmaker retains the elements that made the original so beloved but at the same time adding to it in a way that doesn’t feel forced or unnatural. While his name may have originally elicited some negative reaction, Tim Burton proves that he was indeed the right man for the job as his unique visual style suits the film perfectly. All in all, this is another winner from the house of mouse, and bodes well for the rest of the remakes Disney has in the works, such as “Lady and the Tramp” which is coming later this year.
These are the intelligent humble words of our Kevin Dillon. @kevinwritestuff.
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