WHAT I LIKED: Tim Burton's adaptation of the Disney classic Dumbo sees him add a whole lot of fluff to the original story, and it does have to be said that some of that stuff works on its own terms. The introduction of the human characters who run the circus and the troubles Colin Farrell's WW1-veteran experiences are interesting and you do at least begin to care about him and his kids by the end. The idea of introducing the thread with Michael Keaton's character and his hideous Dreamland (a rather striking thing in what is still most definitely a Disney movie) and the whole rising up against commercialist entertainment also has merit, and the fact it ends on a note about animal welfare and freedom is also admirable to a degree. Tim Burton also unsurprisingly delivers in the visual department too, and when you add all of that to a film which still has the classic tale in amongst the baggage, what you've got is a film with lots of admirable things in it and its heart in all the right places.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The problem is however that its heart is actually in so many places that it never truly devotes itself to one thing. Now sure, plenty of films with a whole lot more going on in them are out there, but the reason Burton's Dumbo in particular is largely so unsuccessful is that it never really ties itself together. Is it about Colin Farrell's character? Is it about the kids? Is it about commercialisation? Is it about animal welfare? Is it about Dumbo?...
There's no central theme or narrative thread that all of that baggage seems to be working in the service of, and as a result all of that extra stuff feels unnecessary and ultimately makes for a film that appears as though it's not really sure what it wants to be. That's a trap that many of these Disney reboots have fallen into (Beauty and the Best for example couldn't decide if it wanted to be a gritty adaptation or a magical recreation) and it's further proof of the fact that if you're not really sure why a film is doing what it's doing, there's not really any point in it at all.
VERDICT: An adaptation with some interesting stuff in it that never really gels in one cohesive way, Tim Burton's 'Dumbo' is an example of a retelling that doesn't really serve a purpose at all. There's potential here, but it mostly lets itself down.