Star rating: *****
Dumbo is a classic Disney movie and as a self-confessed Disney-a-holic I’d put the original animated version somewhere in my top ten films of all time. A live action incarnation with a Tim Burton spin sounded appealing and alarming all at once, however it was a joy from beginning to end. Probably not entirely suited to our five year old as he found some of the darker edged scenes to be somewhat disconcerting, however this did not spoil his overall enjoyment and when Dumbo flew, our boy was beside himself.
Dumbo himself and indeed all of the animals were fascinating to watch, such attention to detail added to the exceptional realism and Dumbo’s mother in particular was quite something to behold.
The story stays fairly faithful to the original, there isn’t much of a place for Timothy Mouse in this version although he’s definitely featured, just not as Dumbo’s friend. His friends come in the form of the Farrier family, bereaved following the death of their mother and newly reunited with their father, Holt (Colin Farrell) who has returned from war with an arm missing – Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) are the pals the young elephant with over-sized ears comes to rely upon. The poor young chap has gone from being a laughing stock when he was new born to the sad departure of his mother following her rampage to protect her son. Max Medici (Danny DeVito), owner of the Circus Dumbo belongs to is capitalising on the discovery that Dumbo’s ears can be used as wings. However, with the fame of his top billing act comes a villain set to take the act for himself under false pretences. Enter V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) with his arm-candy, trapeze star Colette Marchant (Eva Green).
With the Farrier children intent upon using money earned from Dumbo’s act in the Coney Island circus to buy back his mother, the truth about Candevere’s intentions catalyses a chain of events which may or may not lead to a happy ending for the much loved elephant and his keepers.
The story from the animation has been expanded upon and has a sinister air on occasion, however that is to be expected with a Tim Burton production – it’s not going to be happy ever after without a number of twists, turns and evil plots along the way. DeVito, Keaton, Farrell and Green shine in the lead roles and the children are superb.
Go and see the elephant fly for yourselves, it’s a heart-warming tale of love, ultimately and I bet you’ll not be able to help yourselves falling in love with delightful little Dumbo! Book your tickets to see the film at Malvern Cinemas, here: www.malvern-theatres.co.uk