There’s no question that the original 1941 release of Dumbo is a landmark animation release. It’s truly a triumph of the techniques of the time that come together to cement a piece of Disney history unlike any other.

Respecting a classic…

For one reason or another, I was not very excited for the 2019 remake of Dumbo. It could’ve been because I personally was not a fan of the original for a handful of reasons. Or maybe it was because (despite him being one of my favorite directors) the recent work of Tim Burton has been rather sub-par. Either way, I didn’t know what to expect. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the first scene of the film, where a familiar score introduces itself while we see a newer, updated Casey Jr., I knew everything was going to be okay.

WHEN I SEE AN ELEPHANT FLY — In Tim Burton’s all-new, live-action reimagining of “Dumbo,” former circus star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) find themselves caring—and advocating—for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. Directed by Burton and produced by Katterli Frauenfelder, Derek Frey, Ehren Kruger and Justin Springer, “Dumbo” flies into theaters on March 29, 2019. © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

And yes, you heard that right, I was not a fan of the original. This isn’t a review of that film, so I won’t get into it, but to sum it up, I think the original release of Dumbo is very outdated today. Comparing the runtime of the two films alone – 112 minutes to the original’s 64 – it’s clear that Burton has a much larger story to tell.

Where I find faults in the original, I find nothing but success in this retelling. But that isn’t to say that Burton completely erases any memory of the original. I think this remake pays homage to the original by respecting its legacy, and building upon it to tell a new story. You don’t need to have seen the original at all to understand this new film, but there are certainly a few nods to it that those classic fans will pick up.

…and bringing it to life.

For the past 5 years, we’ve been subject to a new kind of Disney film – the remake. It’s become something of a joke that Disney just keeps remaking their classic movies, creating an endless cycle of profitability. I personally have not been very kind to these remakes. At the base level, I don’t understand the point of remaking a classic movie as they have been doing.

2015’s Cinderella, 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, and (from the look of it) 2019’s The Lion King – just to name a few – all tell the exact same story as the original film they’re based on. The remake simply updates the graphics, or makes it “live action”, or adds a few new songs to the soundtrack, and doesn’t make any attempt at doing something radically different with the story. I don’t like these films because they seem like a waste of time. Yes, I would love to see Childish Gambino as Simba the lion, but I’d like even more to see him doing something I’ve never seen before, not exactly what I saw Matthew Broderick do 25 years ago.

I appreciated Maleficent for this reason. It wasn’t a remake of Sleeping Beauty, it was a retelling from a different perspective. Ultimately, I didn’t like that movie as a whole, but it’s the only “remake” that I felt actually justified its existence. That is, until Tim Burton’s Dumbo.

Dumbo (2019) takes the simple concept of the original movie, ‘a flying elephant in a circus’, and runs away with it. Burton’s movie does feature some of the same events as the original, but builds upon them in a way that is wholly unique and more powerful than the original was.

DREAMING BIG — In Tim Burton’s all-new, live-action reimagining of “Dumbo,” persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) decides that a young elephant from a struggling circus belongs in his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Directed by Burton and produced by Katterli Frauenfelder, Derek Frey, Ehren Kruger and Justin Springer, “Dumbo” flies into theaters on March 29, 2019. © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Burton was clearly the best choice to tell this story. Don’t go into this movie expecting his typical gothic atmosphere, but do expect his ability to turn a dark story or dark events into a bright and vibrant world. This movie feels very similar to his remake of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. From the soundtrack to the over-the-top visuals, they both respect the classic and truly bring it to life.

I’ll leave it at this – this is the movie we thought we were watching when we saw the original Dumbo. You can go back and watch the original and still respect it for its legacy, still honor the achievement it made, and still love the story it told. But watching Burton’s new take on the film brings back all of the wonder and amazement of truly seeing it for the first time. It’s the movie that made me a Dumbo fan.

GOTTA FLY – Visionary filmmaker Tim Burton helms the live-action reimagining of Disney’s 1941 animated classic “Dumbo.” “’Dumbo’ was always one of my favorite Disney films,” said Burton. “We’re trying to give it the same heart, feeling and emotion that we all loved about the original.” Starring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, “Dumbo” is currently in production in England. © 2017 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved..

Dumbo opens Friday, March 29, 2019 in theatres everywhere. You can read Zannaland’s original Dumbo animated feature review here.