- Directed by Robert Zemeckis
- September 8, 2022
- Based on Walt Disney’s 1940 animated film of the same name and the 1883 Italian book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
After his maker wishes upon a star, a wooden puppet is brought to life and must go on a journey to become a real boy.
Disney continues its trend of converting its classic animated features into live action films with this version of Pinocchio. I don’t pretend to know anything about the book upon which it is based but I have seen the movie which it at point draws points draws inspiration from and there are numerous aspects of that transposed to here. At points one could even be left with the impression that the original script was used with additional elements added.
The issue-the biggest problem-is there is no heart to the story. Considering Robert Zemeckis directed that is quite surprising. He has done numerous great films, but this just doesn’t feel like anything. It doesn’t engage the viewer or demand their intention attention in any way. It goes through the motions as if it is ticking off a list.
Pinocchio is filled with plenty of Disney jokes and occasionally referential humor. The scene in the beginning with the clocks is one big grab bag of Disney’s animated greatest hits with the Sleeping Beauty reference being probably my favorite. They even squeeze in a joke about Chris Pine. I guess you’ve made it when you when movies work in jokes involving you. I am just not sure what a Chris Pine joke is doing in a fairytale movie.
We have a fantastic cast headed by the great Tom Hanks. He’s one of the great actors of our time and is quite possibly perfect casting as Geppetto. Hanks though is just lacking that spark or something special in his performance. He doesn’t convey the joy or the sadness or anything of the character. His performance like this movie has all the engagement and electricity of a table read. It’s well performed and well-presented but that’s all it is. You get no emotional feel from anything.
Pinocchio is visually stunning. This is not a movie you could’ve done only a short time ago. Via the magic of CGI you get a very immersive and visually stunning world. Oft times it looks identical to the film. From Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) to Geppetto’s workshop to even Pleasure Island it is the 1940 movie brought to life. The scene with the Blue Fairy when she is converting Pinocchio from a marionette to a golem-I mean to almost a real boy- is rather impressive and a perfect indication of what this movie provides visually.
And perhaps that’s part of the problem. There is so much here that is not real. The human brain knows instinctively that many of those elements are not occurring with the actors there but were rather created on a machine. And there are points even where the lighting of Geppetto or the environment he is in or any human on screen just doesn’t quite square up. In other words the illusion is spoiled because there is so much fake before your eyes.
It is much more an animated feature than it is a filmed presentation. Straddling both and presenting something that evokes a reaction and the director given his past should be able to do this easily yet creates a movie that is ultimately lifeless.
This live action iteration of the Pinocchio story lacks magic. It is simply going through the motions rather than trying to craft a film. It uses great visuals to cover a weak story. Visually it’s worth a watch but as far as the story goes you can skip it.