Disney’s 2013 production of The Lone Ranger had some serious problems. Among other things, director Gore Verbinski opted to construct his own historically accurate trains rather than modifying existing ones, or creating one from CGI, which helped send the movie wildly over budget. His version of The Lone Ranger was a poor and ultimately forgettable adaptation, mostly memorable for Johnny Depp’s assertion that his supposed Cherokee heritage and a Joann Fabric & Crafts fake crow perched atop his head gave him the right to play the character of Tonto.

The Lone Ranger’s single saving grace is, ironically, that overpriced train, the focal point of the third act’s thrilling action set piece, set to a wonderful Hans Zimmer arrangement of the “William Tell Overture.” The train feels real as it barrels through the film’s Western set, and its solidity lets audiences connect with something in the film. The scene clearly features actual, physical people, performing a difficult swashbuckling scene on an actual train. The real peril can be seen on their real faces.

All of which highlights the central problem with Dumbo, Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of one of its animated classics. As soon as a CGI train, billowing CGI smoke, kicking up CGI dust, and sporting a fake-looking engine grill shaped to evoke Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat barrels into this cartoonish, mostly CGI world, Dumbo is in trouble.

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