The live-action "Dumbo" expands on the beloved animated classic with a refreshed heartfelt story in which differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Struggling circus owner Max Medici (DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Farrell) and his children (Parker & Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive but sinister entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, spectacular, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. (Gary Reber)
Special features include the featurettes "Circus Spectaculars" (HD 08:20), "The Elephant In The Room" (HD 05;50) and "Built To Amaze" (HD 07:40); nine deleted scenes (HD 07:47); hidden easter eggs; clowning around bloopers (HD 01:57); the visual video "Baby Mine" performed by Arcade Five (HD02;59); upfront previews and a Movies Anywhere digital code. (Gary Reber)
The 1.85:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa Mini and Arri Alexa SXT camera systems in 3.4K capture and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. A 3D conversion was performed by DNEG, but no 3D Blu-ray Disc was provided for review.
Picture quality is good, exhibiting a textured filtered period appearance with a rich and warm color palette. The color palette is wonderful as it brings alive the vibrant period attire and settings. The period attire, circus tents and props are fabulously hued and saturated with bright and bold patterns and accents exhibiting appealing color depth. Primaries are strong and vibrant, even during dimly low-light situations. Fleshtones throughout appear accurately realistic. Resolution is superb, exhibiting fine detail in the circus costumes, tents, props, smoke and fire, even at night, and as well as with Dumbo's and his mother's body texture. Facial features are sharp and revealing of skin pores, hair, stubble, beards and lines. Object textures are explicit. HDR contrast is excellent from the brightest hues to the darkest shadowy cavities. Black levels appear natural, and low-light settings reveal detail in the shadows. Overall, clarity and image definition is superb as it relates to the settings in which Medici's circus performs. WOW! segments are from 00:38 to 02:49, 20:20 to 25:33, 35:09 to 40:33, 46:40 to 48:49, 57:15 to 58:11, 01:01:57 to 01:07:18 and 01:27:11 to 01:29:33. This is a wonderfully enticing picture whose visual composition and cinematography command attention as does the period style treatment. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack'a default SPL is set below reference level and benefits from boosting the volume. The proper reference level represents an average 85 dB SPL at the listening position. Once at calibrated reference level, the sound is spatially dimensional, though, strong deep bass is wanting and deserved. Still, the sound is missing the creative potential that the scenes suggest. During a scene in which an elephant stomps on the ground and smashes the circus tent's support rigging, the soundtrack lacks the punch and reverberation of deep bass extension. Surround envelopment is good and at times is aggressively presented, such as when Dumbo first flies, as well as thereafter, around the interior of the tent, enhanced with directional sound effects. The orchestral/choral score is fluid sounding with good dynamics and spatial dimensionality across the soundstage and within the soundfield. Atmospherics and sound effects all are effective as they enhance the soundscape. Dialogue sounds natural with good spatial presence.
The Immersive Sound element is comprised of percussion elements and other isolated orchestral instruments, such as a harp, piano, and xylophone, as well as a segment in which choral voicing or a full orchestra or band (even a one-man band and full circus band) are heard. Early on there is a man's voice directing the unloading of the circus train and directionalized bird chirps. At times during the circus performance the audience makes noises and shouts. At one point subtle female singing is mixed in. Other height layer sounds include Dumbo's ear-flapping flights and his screeching, the sound of a power light switch being turned on, the circus parade band accompanying the performers marching into Dreamland, big circus ambience, a circus ringmaster's announcement and other sound effects. Still, there are numerous opportunities for far more sonic creativity in the height layer than are presented.
While the soundtrack is lacking in desired low-end bass extension, the music and sense of environmental character are excellent, for an enjoyable holosonic® spherical surround experience. (Gary Reber)