Where most Disney live-action remakes fail to excite me on paper but Dumbo was different, I am not the biggest fan of the 1941 original movie and there were so many places where they could go. Being just an hour long the classic lacks a lot of depth and it felt like the perfect film to be remade, they got Tim Burton who always seems to carry at least a unique style with him to every one of his projects and overall seemed like it could be one of the better Disney live-action remakes. It also might help that I am much more positive when it comes to the Disney live-action remakes than most people, so it is safe to say that I was excited for this film, yet it disappointed me pretty badly.
The most disappointing aspect of this movie for me was easily the story behind it. As I mentioned the original was pretty basic so there were so many options on where they could go, but they chose the simplest and most boring option they could. None of this story connected with me or interested me and it all has been told before. It is also puzzling to me why they would take the focus off Dumbo himself for so long, sure he is in this movie but it never feels like it's about him. He is the driving force of the plot but the plot itself is much more about the Farrier family and their struggles which were so uninteresting. Everything they try to say as far as this family is so dull and basic, nothing connected with me and it is easily the most forgettable part of this film despite being the main focus of it. It did not help that the acting from the Farrier family (and just all around really) is pretty bad. Colin Farrell seemingly tries to give a deep painful performance but instead feels boring and bland. The children are outright terrible and ruin so many emotional scenes with their dry acting. Michael Keaton feels completely out of place with a bizarre performance and character that is so weird that it never quite works as the main villain who we are supposed to fear to some degree. Surprisingly the only actor who seems to be having fun and works is Danny DeVito, not only is he tons of fun but his emotions actually work. I really thought he was going to be the weak link here but I constantly just wanted to get back to him.
Though I will say the visuals do come through, where it lacks the solid unique ascetic that most Tim Burton films accomplish there are multiple scenes that are just breathtaking, even so much sometimes that it feels out of place in such a bland movie. A character will be placed in front of a gorgeous sunset or there will be a panning shot over the vast golden planes. The pink elephant scene is an easy standout just like in the original with its totally unique colors and design. Dumbo also looks pretty good! So many have said that he is one of the cutest characters ever and where I cannot go that far the cgi is always solid and I do like the flying scenes quite a bit, especially when we are able to take off with him.
At the end of the day, I cannot give a lot of good reasons to go out to the theater and spend money to see Dumbo, the visuals might be good but they are nothing revolutionary or must see. Yet at the same time, I can't say the plot is terrible, it just feels very bland. This is a competent film and if you are a huge fan of Dumbo maybe this will have something for you, but I still cannot say that I have loved a version of this story being told (despite thinking that it is a really clever story that could be fantastic if told correctly).