Whoever it was at Disney that decided that live-action remakes of their animated classics were the way to go deserves a raise. Both The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast outperformed box office expectations, meaning that the future holds many more in the same vein. But, first impressions of Dumbo, Tim Burton’s take on Disney’s classic tale of a deformed elephant, suggests that the film might have a decidedly mixed reception.
The pic recently had some press screenings, with critics and industry insiders posting their impressions on social media. Nobody outright hated it, but it seems that praise for Dumbo has been a little restrained. Those who really loved it (@Lulamaybelle, @Sarahmusnicky and @Minkus) point to a “blessedly surprising pro-animal rights message,” as well as heaping praise on the film’s set design and the CGI effects used to create the titular pachyderm.
However, there are numerous reactions like @Tom_Jorgenson explaining that “the human stories feel undercooked,” something echoed by @ChrisHayner, who says “it’s a rather simple tale, so don’t expect tons of character depth” and @NestorCline who says it’s “formulaic and melodramatic.” The only truly negative review comes from @TheNerdsofColor, who wrote:
“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.”
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But that might all be irrelevant, as @MikeRyan reports that the movie contains a scene in which Michael Buffer introduces Dumbo by shouting “LLLLLLET’S GET READY FOR DUMMMMMMBO!”
Well, that’s my ticket sold. Judging by these impressions, it seems that Dumbo may not hit the heights of previous live-action adaptations, but it’s also very far from an outright disaster. Although, given the impressions of Aladdin, perhaps that’s in store for us later this Spring. Oh well, at least Jon Favreau’s The Lion King should be great.