'DUMBO' - Tim Burton's live-action re-telling of the animated classic is a marvel of cuteness.

This live-action to re-imagining of Disney's 1941 animated classic maybe the sweetest film  Tim Burton has ever made. It's also the safest.

If you prefer Burton's big visionary swings into darkness, the family-friendly Dumbo will require adjustment to the PG light.

Dumbo, the baby elephant who can use his weirdly big ears to fly, still occupies the centring in Burton's extravagant new circus. But screenwriter Ehren Kruger, infamous for three of the five  Transformers films, has transformed the plot to include a mixed bag of human characters.

Colin Farrell stars as Holi Farrier, a circus performer who has just returned from World War 1    minus an arm and a wife who has died from influenza during his absence.

That leaves Holt in charge of his two children, Milly and her little brother Joe.

In such reduced circumstances, financially strapped circus owner Max Medici has sold the horses that once made Holt a star attraction and put the combat veteran in charge of Jumbo, a pregnant elephant.

Max's thinking is that an infant Jumbo will draw crowds to his travelling circus. But when the baby, cruelly tagged Dumbo, is born with oversized ears, Max wants to have nothing to do with him.

That is until Dumbo uses those floppy ears to fly.

The computerised Dumbo is a marvel of cuteness and technical wizardry who steals every scene he's in.

What character designer Michael Kutsche does in terms of eye movements and facial expressions sets a new gold standard. 

It's a shame that the script over overcomplicates things with a series of villains, notably Michael Keaton as VA Vendevere, a malevolent opportunist who sees Dumbo as his meal ticket.

This puts him in conflict with Max, which sets up a sparks-flying reunion between Burton's Barman and Penguin - which crushingly never amount to anything.

Damn, Alan Arkin has his moments as J Griffin Remington, a banker willing to finance Vandevere's nefarious plans, which include sending Dumbo's mom to the glue factory so Dumbo won't be distracted by her.

Add in  Eva Green, star of Burton;s Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and dark Shadows, as Colette Marchant, a sexy aerialist who finds her soul in Dumbo and leaves Vendvere to fly into the waiting arm of Holt. [Courtesy Rolling Stone]


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