Struggling circus owner Max Medici enlists a former star and his two children to care for Dumbo, a baby elephant born with oversized ears. When the family discovers that the animal can fly, it soon becomes the main attraction bringing in huge audiences and revitalizing the run-down circus. The elephant’s magical ability also draws the attention of V.A. Vandevere, an entrepreneur who wants to showcase Dumbo in his latest, larger-than-life entertainment venture.
Plot: A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
Director: Tim Burton
Aspect Ratio: 1.85.1
Runtime: 112 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Dumbo is held partly aloft by Tim Burton’s visual flair, but a crowded canvas and overstretched story leave this live-action remake more workmanlike than wondrous.
“A fresh take on the animated classic.”
This movie was shot with Arri Alexa 65, Mini & SXT cameras at 5.1k & 3.4k and finished at a 2k Digital Intermediate. With that, you will get an upscaled 4k image for this release. As per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10. When it comes to the grain levels, there’s practically none, so you will get a nice clean image start to finish.
Just two minutes into the film you knew you were in for a treat. Watching the bold and colorful Casey Jr. train going through various cities showcasing different landscapes full of greens and UHD-sharp detail… you hoped it held this standard the entire time. Guess what? It did.
All major aspects of this UHD disc is a jump over it’s Blu-ray counterpart. The HDR looks great in almost every shot, adding not only enhanced flesh tones on the characters, but sunsets, blue skies, grass, carnival atmosphere… the works. The detail is there too, especially in the character close-ups — you will see deep pores, wrinkles, beard stubble, blemishes, face paint — even being able to discern the different fabric on their wardrobes. Lastly, black levels hold great contrast and foreground, something that will be more noticeable in the latter half of the movie during carnival acts inside Dreamland. This movie has a lot of color in it and the UHD boasts it in every scene. (As a small-side note, to mark again, the green in the grass and various fields stands out in every scene too.)
As you can expect, there’s a lot of CGI in play during this film, but don’t worry, it’s holds up really strong. The characteristics of Dumbo are on full display from his wrinkles to his trunk and large floppy ears. Little moments like Dumbo peeking out of a pile of hay hold sharp detail down the blades and shadows inside of the train cart — or when Dumbo is getting a bath and you can see the foam dripping down his body — distinguishable from where he was wet and where he was still dry. It’s amazing what can be done when you hone in on the detail and Disney does that with Dumbo. (There were a few scenes more recently in Aladdin that worry me about its upcoming 4K UHD release, which it why I mention CGI at all.)
A time and place where all the positive aspects of this disc come to life is in Chapter 14 during the big show in Dreamland. The spotlight is on the middle of the spectacle showcasing all the color, not only in the venue but on the performers wardrobe and acts themselves. While that’s happening you will see great HDR and black levels contrasted to the darkness of the crowd. Holding the balance between the bright stage-lit center and the entire dark backdrop of the crowd is feat done masterfully. Cutting in and out from the crowd, to the stage, to the premium suite box showcase this. As a matter of fact, all the showcasing scenes inside Dreamland look amazing because of this.
I grew up in the 90’s, so I was bred on Disney. It’s crazy to me that they are taking all the classic films and making them into modern movies… they’re just getting started with this phase of them too. At first I was very skeptical about Dumbo because the animated movie was short and perfect — when I saw the runtime for this I thought, “what else can they add to it?” but, I’d say they pulled it off. I can’t sit here and say that this was a perfect movie, but it was better than I expected. I enjoyed this film and I think you will too if you took the time to read this.
I easily recommend Dumbo on 4K UHD because it’s one of Disney’s best discs currently on the market — a nearly full screen presentation helps when it hits the mark on all fronts — something I wish more discs attempted. Next up is Disney’s best animated movie, the legendary Lion King coming out in less than a month. That film has all the pressure to adapt the original, so let’s hope for the best. For now go grab a copy of Dumbo at your local retailer today.
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