“Live-action remake” seems like an increasingly imprecise term to describe updated versions of classic Disney animated films. Of course, some of these films feature casts of actual live performers, e.g Aladdin or Mulan. But on many of them, the human presence is practically not noticeable. In the tradition of Jungle book and The Lion KingThe new “live-action remakes.” Pinocchio from the director Robert Zemeckisin which a person is removed from flesh and blood Tom Hanks as Geppetto, surrounded by a menagerie of CGI creatures: fake cats, fake fish, fake crickets, fake donkeys, fake whales — not to mention the many fake-looking green screens they can navigate through. One watches with desperate hope that Pinocchio’s wish to be a real boy will come true, if only to bring some recognizable humanity to this collection of barren computer images.
Geppetto Hanks leads a humble life working in his shop full of toys and gadgets. His cuckoo wall clocks date from the 1940s Pinocchiobut they—along with his disheveled hair, strange fondness for young people, and highly eccentric demeanor—make him very similar to another classic Zemeckis character, Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the future. Instead of inventing a time machine, Geppetto carves a magical boy puppet out of a pine tree.
Although the details remain vague, Geppetto lost his real son at some point in the past, and so he creates Pinocchio in his own image. As he settles down to sleep that night, Geppetto sees a star in his window and wishes that Pinocchio would become a real boy. When he sleeps, the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Eriva) arrives to grant him his wish, bouncing a beam of blue light off the image of Geppetto’s dead child and onto his new puppet. Great Scott!
From there you know what’s going on; the inept Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) can’t keep him down, and when Geppetto sends him off to school the next morning, he’s easily sidetracked by a host of sinister adults and anthropomorphic animals. There’s Honest John (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key), who forces little Pinocchio to become part of a traveling troupe led by the wicked Stromboli (Giuseppe Battista). When he is not performing; Stromboli locks Pinocchio in a birdcage, where he meets one of the film’s new characters, a dancer (Kian Lamaya) with an artificial leg who performs in Stromboli’s show, controlling a ballerina doll named Sabine, who becomes one of the few people (or marionette ), whom Pinocchio trusts. Later, a coachman (Luke Evans) brings Pinocchio to Pleasure Island, a vile hedonistic land where a disturbing fate awaits any donkey who thinks he can behave like a criminal without consequence.
Pinocchio’s protector in all these misfortunes is his fairy-appointed conscience, voiced by Jiminy Cricket Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a high southern accent. Jiminy serves as Pinocchio’s advisor in the world, as a former fool, good old “Pinock” is hopelessly naive when it comes to society’s cynical behavior. But this version of the main character is so saintly that he gets into trouble almost entirely by accident. Even on Pleasure Island, where the kids enjoy smashing windows and playing pool (but not smoking, a hallmark of the original series that isn’t here), Pinocchio is still committed to angelic behavior. He hardly needs a conscience, although a manager could help protect him from all the wily show business people who want to exploit him.
On a technical level, the CGI puppet Pinocchio looks pretty good. His bright yellow felt hat, complete with blue ribbon and red feather, everything looks tactile and real, like you could reach out and touch them. And yet, when Geppetto tries to do just that, the illusion of this living doll is shattered; Hanks and Pinocchio never seem to inhabit the same physical space. (Just look at the way Hanks “holds” Pinocchio with clumsy, wide-open hands and you’ll see what I mean.) Robert Zemeckis is the guy who made Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of the most compelling blends of live action and animation in history. It came out 35 years ago and was made for a fraction Pinocchiothe budget of Art. Why does the human-toon interaction look so much worse here?
With all these artificial characters and environments revolving around Hanks, there could have been an opportunity to turn his living puppet son into a cinematic metaphor for the age of soulless visual effects. But the film never provides any sort of meta-commentary on the story—or much of any other message or theme. 2022 year Pinocchio it’s basically just a bona fide animation update Pinocchio with computer effects and some of the more edgy aspects of the original – such as the aforementioned pleasure island cigars – removed to make the material more “fit” for modern audiences.
In this day and age, when nearly every major Hollywood production is designed from the ground up to function as “event movies,” 2022. Pinocchio it appears to be an uneventful film. Years later, the original PinocchioThe reputation grew and grew until it is now considered one of Walt Disney’s two or three greatest animated films. Usually with remakes like this, I go back and watch the original before the remake — or I recently watched it with my kids and it’s fresh in my mind. But the old ones Pinocchiowith its disturbing visions of children transformed into donkeys and a huge monster whale, always seemed too intense for my kids, so I’ve kept them away from it for now.
So all I have to measure is Zemeckis Pinocchio vs. I have vague memories of some specific sequences; wonderful songs, Pinocchio lies in a giant nose. Compared to these memories, the new film falls short. For all the fairies and wand-waving, there isn’t much magic here. There is no chance that this version will achieve the kind of canonical status it had in the 1940s Pinocchio holds It doesn’t even compare to the other popular live-action remakes of the current era.
Pinocchio is streaming now Disney+.
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