The first social media reactions have arrived for Tim Burton and Disney's live-action Dumbo remake. While it wasn't the first live-action reimagining of a Disney animated film (hi, 101 Dalmatians), Burton's Alice in Wonderland was nevertheless the film that started this trend of Mouse House retellings back in 2010. Since then, the studio's classic animated movies like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast have all been remade in live-action, earning big box office returns and - for the most part - positive responses from critics and general audiences alike.
Up next is Dumbo, a remake that significantly expands upon the story of Disney's original 1941 animated movie. The film stars Colin Farrell as a former circus star who is hired to take care of the titular elephant with his children, only to discover that the young animal's gigantic ears allow him to fly. Michael Keaton costars in the movie as a money-grubbing entrepreneur who wants to buy Dumbo for his own business venture, opposite Danny DeVito as the kindly owner of the struggling circus where Dumbo lives. The film will hit theaters at the end of the month, but has already started screening for journalists ahead of then.
Early reactions to Dumbo are now online, and for the most part the response is positive. However, there are definitely some recurring criticisms among the initial reactions, as you can see from the tweets that've been embedded below.
I know I don’t sound too enthused about this movie but it was enjoyable, and it is certainly worlds better than Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins Returns. For reference, the only Disney live action remakes I liked were Jungle Book and Cinderella.— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) March 12, 2019
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I can say that #Dumbo is a genuinely heartwarming, entertaining movie that is definitely worth your time. The cast is enjoyable but the VFX Dumbo is so damn expressive that he steals the show everytime he's onscreen.— Nick Kazden (@ricknazden) March 12, 2019
I really enjoyed #Dumbo . It’s a beautiful and whimsical movie, starring a CGI elephant with so much heart. It’s also a rather simple tale, so don’t expect tons of character septh. But I still had a blast with the ride it took me on and it’s the best Burton’s been in years. pic.twitter.com/tKu6eHfKlM— Chris E. Hayner (@ChrisHayner) March 12, 2019
#Dumbo the character is quite cute. But unfortunately, though it looks great, the movie lacks the sincerity and heart that made the animated original a classic. Too manufactured, and it’s super talented cast is a bit wasted on paper thin characters and relationships. -Mike M— The Nerds of Color (@TheNerdsofColor) March 12, 2019
The reimagining of #Dumbo in Disney's live-action lexicon soars higher than audiences will expect with its universal storyline, relevant theming, and the adorably rendered CGI-ed elephant that will warm even the coldest of undead hearts.— The Foxglove Child 🦊 (@sarahmusnicky) March 12, 2019
#Dumbo has a blessedly surprising pro-animal rights agenda wrapped in a subtle, rebellious meta-commentary on a band of outsiders shaking up a corporate establishment. Its aesthetic design is dazzling, gorgeous & meticulous. The CG elephant is absolutely adorable. pic.twitter.com/hN0gjHUiv4— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) March 12, 2019
Watched #Dumbo last week. Despite some great visuals, a very fun Michael Keaton performance, and an adorable baby pachyderm, the movie never really gets you caring as much about what's going on as the original. The human stories feel undercooked and it really rains on the parade.— Tom Jorgensen (@Tom_Jorgensen) March 12, 2019
Interestingly, a number of these reactions single out Dumbo's pro-animal message as one of its highlights, along with the film's rich production design and gothically whimsical touch. Burton, of course, is known for his visually striking gothic fairy tales about outsiders (ranging from family-friendly fare like Frankenweenie to R-rated offerings like Sweeney Todd), so it's not surprising to hear that Dumbo plays to his strengths in these regards. At the same time, several of Burton's recent films (from the last ten years especially) have been criticized for being exercises in style over narrative substance and character development, and it sounds like that's once again the case here, based on the criticisms so far.
Then again, it seems that Burton's Dumbo really is as much a sequel to the animated movie as a retelling, much like his Alice in Wonderland. Considering that Beauty and the Beast in particular was criticized for being too identical to the animated version (only not as good), it's encouraging to hear that Dumbo is mixing things up more by comparison. That should further help to convince more people to take a chance on the film in theaters, rather than saving it for a viewing at home (if at all). We'll have to wait and see what the actual reviews say but, for now, Dumbo seems to be in decent shape when it comes to word of mouth.
Source: Various [See the above links]
- Dumbo (2019) release date: Mar 29, 2019