"In 2019, a beloved tale will take you to new heights." That beloved tale is Dumbo (2019). This fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton, adapted by Ehren Kruger, and based on the 1941 Disney animated classic and the novel of the same name by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl. Circus owner Max Medici enlists former star Holt Farrier and his children Milly and Joe to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere, who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant, until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.
In early July 2014, a live-action Dumbo film was announced with a screenplay by Kruger. In early March 2015, Burton was confirmed as director, marking Burton's second live-action adaptation of a Disney animated classic after Alice in Wonderland (2010). In mid July, Disney slated the film for a March 29 2019 release date, seven months before the original's 78th anniversary. In January 2017, Will Smith and Tom Hanks were approached for the protagonist and antagonist respectively. Smith was interested but backed out, where as Hanks turned it down. Ultimately, Colin Farrell and Michael Keaton were cast. By Summer 2017, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, and Alan Arkin rounded out the film's cast. In July, principal photography began, and wrapped in November. Filming took place entirely at Pinewood Studios and Cardington Airfield in England, under the code name Big Ears. For the titular elephant, the filmmakers originally had a more photo realistic model, however this was eventually scrapped for a more expressive one. For the look of the film, Burton and production designer Rick Heinrichs cited the paintings of Edward Hopper as an inspiration, as well as period architecture and photographs from that era. Costume designer Colleen Atwood used 90% vintage outfits from that era. Vandermere's Dreamland was heavily inspired by Coney Island, World's Fair, and various Disneyland theme parks.
The film stars Farrell, Keaton, DeVito, Green, Parker, Hobbins, and Arkin. The cast gave fine performances despite very weak character development, especially with Farrell and Keaton. Genuine trauma evaded Farrell's protagonist, where as Keaton, in the end, was nothing more than a moustache-twirling villain.
Simon says Dumbo (2019) receives:
Also, see my review for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.