Dumbo Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

A Disney legend returns for a whole new generation. Acclaimed director Tim Burton presents the reimagined Dumbo. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

88

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 111 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, 1080p Blu-ray: DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, Alan Arkin
Directed by: Tim Burton
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: June 25, 2019

“In 2019, A Beloved Tale Will Take You to New Heights”

Synopsis:

“A Disney legend returns for a whole new generation. Acclaimed director Tim Burton presents the reimagined Dumbo. Dreams soar all the way to the Big Top when a baby elephant that can fly saves the day!” – Disney Home Entertainment

My Take:

Circus owner Max Medici enlists former circus 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.

The story of “Dumbo” emerged more than seven decades ago, catching the eye of Walt Disney, who eventually turned it into the Walt Disney Studios’ fourth feature film release. The original animated version of flew into theaters on Oct. 23, 1941; it was one of the first films completed after Disney opened its new Burbank studio lot. The film was revered by both audiences and critics, winning an Academy Award® for best music, scoring of a musical picture (Frank Churchill, Oliver Wallace). As a child I loved nearly all of the Disney animated feature films and Dumbo was no exception.

I haven’t seen it in years and was curious to see what this live action reimaging was going to bring to the table. Unfortunately, the retooled story coupled with director Tim Burton’s vision fail to completely capture the heart and spirit of adventure found in the original classic. There is an elementary nature to it that clearly takes aim at young viewers but, leaves nothing to the imagination, resulting in a thoroughly predictable and flat family film. Additionally, Colin Farrell is completely miscast and the young actors that portray the children, whom are an integral part of the plot/connection to Dumbo, don’t have the chops to handle it. I am also not sure why Alan Arkin was cast at all, his character and appearance seemed completely gratuitous. The reunion of Michael Keaton and Tim Burton bore little to no fruit here and felt forced.

I liked the CG work on little Dumbo and had no real problems with the production elements or creative choices associated with them. Dumbo isn’t a bad film. It just isn’t as good as the original and suffers from an underdeveloped script and questionable casting. At the end of the day I merely found it to be mildly entertaining.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for peril/action, thematic elements, and brief mild language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Dumbo comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Dumbo was rendered from digital sources and finished on a 2K DI. The film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in both its 1080p and Ultra HD presentations. This isn’t a colorful film however its palate of sepia tones and variants of blue/red benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing noticeably warmer and pleasing to the eye. Resolution gets a boost with the differences between the UHD and 1080p renderings being appreciable. Close-ups tend to be better refined with resolvable texture on surfaces and physical features being easier to detect.

I enjoyed the implementation of HDR. The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes is immediately noticeable. Where called for the cinematography makes use of shadows, streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well, drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. The blend of shadow detail/depth of field offset by the presence of light at varying levels, looked very natural. When things kick off in the finale there are ample specular highlights and blazing fires that allow the image’s dynamic range to shine.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the rendering of detail. The interior sets and CGI featured in the film have appreciable depth which has an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic. Viewing Dumbo in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t a night and day experience but, there is no question that it benefitted from the increase in resolution, emboldened color and high dynamic range treatment.

Dolby Atmos:

Dumbo has a fair surround mix on Blu-ray, so I wondered if the immersive experience would truly improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. This is done well, and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events. During the “dance of the pink bubble elephants” for example, the mix generates a discernible level of dimension and depth of field. Audio object placement, from both above, and in the ear level listening plane are put to effective use. The various sounds and atmospherics, in small and large spaces, feel more realistic in terms of their acoustics and size.

The music score is mixed throughout the soundfield adding a notable boost in presence. In comparison, the 7.1 channel mix in noticeably enveloping, but the Atmos mix raises it a notch. Additionally, I found that the Atmos mix added the slightest hint of low frequency detail versus the channel-based presentation.

** I noticed that during parts of the film, such as the scene where Jumbo (Dumbo’s Mom) charges into the arena and rears up several times in defense of her baby, there just isn’t the impact you’d expect. However, later, in other parts of the film, tactility and dynamics improve. Lastly, I found that I had to play this track back at roughly 4 – 6db above where I normally listen. YMMV. SEE AUDIO PORTION FOR RATINGS/COMMENTS ON STANDARD SURROUND MIX. **

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Dumbo comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

This film intentionally uses a limited chromatic scheme and uneven lighting to depict its period specific world. Deep defining blacks and revealing details in low lit backgrounds and shadows provide excellent depth and gradational highlights to the film’s pervading darkened sequences. Detail is characterized by predominantly transparent imagery that appears dimensional and defining. This was the case in all but a few instances where definition softened slightly. I suspect that this was more than likely innate to the photography rather than related to the encoding. I thought that the creative choices made regarding the visual style of this film were right on target.

The lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack has detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is excellent. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with noteworthy distinction.

Here is another recent release from Disney that has instances of questionable dynamics. I noticed that during parts of the film, such as the scene where Jumbo (Dumbo’s Mom) charges into the arena and rears up several times in defense of her baby, there just isn’t the impact you’d expect. However, later, in other parts of the film, tactility and dynamics improve. Lastly, I found that I had to play this track back at roughly 4 – 6db above where I normally listen. YMMV. Considering the source material I didn’t find the lack of room shaking response to be distracting however, I find it baffling that this hit or miss trend continues.

** Here is another recent release from Disney that has instances of questionable dynamics.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Dumbo Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Dumbo Blu-ray
    • CIRCUS SPECTACULARS: Dumbo’s cast share their experience of making the film—and get to the heart of a story about family and believing in yourself.
    • THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Explore how one of Disney’s most lovable characters went from an animated classic to a stunning live-action retelling.
    • BUILT TO AMAZE: Get a closer look at the film’s production and costume design.
    • DELETED SCENES: A compelling collection of scenes that almost made the final film.
    o Roustabout Rufus
    o Pachyderm Plans
    o The Other Medici Brother
    o Monkey Business
    o A Star Is Born
    o Where’s Dumbo
    o Elephant Heist
    o A Seat at the Show
    • EASTER EGGS ON PARADE: Discover the hidden and not-so-hidden nods to the animated Dumbo in this narrated tribute to the Disney classic.
    • CLOWNING AROUND: Laugh along with the cast in a collection of big-top bloopers and goofs from the set.
    • “BABY MINE”: Visual video performed by Arcade Fire
    DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE:
    • DREAMLAND – ANATOMY OF A SCENE: From Final Script to Final Scene: The filmmakers and cast talk a lot about the feeling of “grand intimacy” in the film. Step right up as they bring the Dreamland parade to life, accomplishing the rare marriage of a massive spectacle combined with an emotional tenderness.
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Dumbo is a live-action adventure inspired by Disney’s classic 1941 animated film. Its reimaged story doesn’t have the appeal and heartwarming essence of the original which combined with a few questionable casting choices, relegates it to the fair but, unremarkable category. It comes to Blu-ray in this Cinematic Universe Edition from Disney featuring solid overall video quality, decent supplements and, a mixed bag of an audio mix, which includes a solid Dolby Atmos immersive track. Dumbo is a film that is sure to please the kiddies but, leaves their parents hankering to watch the original Disney classic.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems