Main cast: Colin Farrell (Holt Farrier), Danny DeVito (Max Medici), Eva Green (Colette Marchant), Alan Arkin (J Griffin Remington), Nico Parker (Milly Farrier), Finley Hobbins (Joe Farrier), Roshan Seth (Pramesh Singh), DeObia Oparei (Rongo the Strongo), Joseph Gatt (Neils Skellig), and Michael Keaton (VA Vandevere)
Director: Tim Burton
Holt Farrier left the Medici Brothers’ Circus to become a soldier during World War 1, and now he’s back missing his left arm. Well, that’s not all he has lost: the former equestrian performer’s wife died when influenza claimed the lives of a number of circus performers and the owner Max Medici had to sell off Holt’s horses when the circus fell on hard times. Holt needs a job, however, so he can’t say no when Max offers to let him tame and train an elephant he has recently purchased. This elephant turns out to be pregnant, and soon pops out a brat with over-sized ears. Meanwhile, Holt’s own two brats spend most of the time in this movie annoying the hell out of me: the bratty Joe and the haughty, snobby, disdainful useless daughter Milly whose inability to emote suggests that the actress may be better off contemplating a less expressively demanding career when she grows up.
The oversized-eared baby elephant has a disastrous debut performance that, on the bright side, earned him his new name, Dumbo. His performances become a series of disaster, one after another, and my god, that thing is really hideous to look at. Those dead eyes and “I just came back from Pet Sematary” animations… I don’t know why these people can’t be greedy in other ways – making a live-animated film with some of the creepiest looking things on screen is a most unkind thing to do, and the box office numbers reflect that. The cartoon is perfectly alright, why not just remaster it or something for a re-release? Or do another animated remake? Dumbo looks even more artificial than the original cartoon, and that’s a pretty amazing feat if I hadn’t paid money to watch this thing on the big screen.
The bad guys are so cartoon-like evil, but I personally feel that the two brats are the worst, as they embody every badly-written plot devices whose every antic on screen is calculated to either cause some artificial drama or wring out every insincere sentimental value from the movie. They don’t even look like siblings or similar in any way to Holt, which makes me wonder about the late Mrs Farrier’s extracurricular antics. As for the rest, the script is a ghastly mutation of the script of the 1941 cartoon, only with the melodrama and cartoon villainy bloated to a ridiculous degree. There is no nuance or subtlety – it veers from cartoon-like train wreck to sappy sentimental melodrama and back again with little in-between, with cringe-inducing slapstick tomfoolery as icing on the cake. There is no heart or soul apparent throughout the entire of the over two-hour film; it’s pretty obvious this film is designed to be another creatively bankrupt cash grab for Disney as it recycles through its old catalog to generate more profits.
Still, I suppose the movie is nice enough to look at, especially Colin Farrell even with that awkward CGI’ed-out missing arm of his. He really needs to consider his career choices, because he could have been staring broodily into Jude Law’s eyes and making me imagine beautiful things instead of taking up crappy roles such as Holt Farrier.
Go watch the original Dumbo if you want, but I would strongly suggest giving this irrelevant thing a miss.