When leaked photos of the CGI Dumbo from Tim Burton’s upcoming live-action remake hit the Internet, it was clear that Burton was bringing his signature flair to the classic story. Now that the full trailer for the film has been released, fans will finally get to see how much of a twist he’s putting on the iconic story.
Based on the trailer, it looks like the new Dumbo is far from a beat-by-beat rehash of the original but also bizarrely similar to one aspect of Burton’s 2003 film Big Fish. In that film, Ewan McGregor briefly found himself in a circus run by Danny DeVito. And in Dumbo Colin Farrell finds himself in a circus run by Danny DeVito. And in this circus, Colin Farrell meets a newborn elephant named…you guessed it, Dumbo.
While the original 1941 animated film was a beloved Disney movie, it’s easy to forget that Dumbo is kind of a huge bummer. We all remember a flying elephant at the circus but most of us have completely forgotten that Dumbo was also forced into indentured servitude after being separated from his mom. Is this a little too perfect for Tim Burton’s macabre and zany sensibilities? Isn’t it a bit on the nose (or trunk, in this case)?
Burton, the mind behind beloved films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and the 1989 Batman is, without question, a legendary director. But over the past few years, Burton’s once innovative style has begun to feel a bit stale, with some people criticizing his recent work as lazy rip-offs of his earlier films.
Still, while Burton is entitled to do his own thing – spooky spirals everywhere, black and white striped costumes, Danny Elfman’s ominous score – his creepy, slightly whimsical approach is far less effective when the source material is already creepy and slightly whimsical. Case in point: His aggressively terrible remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
And yet, with Dumbo, perhaps Burton has come home. Will he feel inspired to put his best foot forward and give a truly original take on the story? But, based on the trailer, it looks like Dumbo might end up as another redundant chapter in Burton’s career. But then again, it might be a creepy elephant match made in heaven.