Film Review – Pinocchio (2022)

films, reviews

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In my review of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, I criticised the 2022 Disney version. I haven’t actually watched it. I felt bad enough about it that I actually did this week. I’d originally been planning to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once. I guess that can wait for another week. Instead, I’ll watch Tom Hanks talking to a CGI wooden boy. Even though I know there’s no way that it’ll be as good as del Toro’s version. How could it be?

Especially as Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks have a dodgy history with CGI films. How can we forget the nightmare that is The Polar Express? Could they be as creepy this time around? Well, as it turns out, no, but that’s not to say that this version of Pinocchio is actually worthwhile. It’s another case of a live-action remake that Disney didn’t need to make. After all, the point of these remakes is to make the films seem real. If that’s the case, why does the title character look more animated than he did in the 1940 animation? It’s weird and a problem that many live-action remakes have. Things that seemed perfectly fine in the animation are now harder to accept.

Like its fellow remakes, Pinocchio attempts to bring an extra layer to the story. This time Gepetto isn’t a lonely old man who wants a son. Instead, he is a man who lost his son and makes a wooden replacement. It’s an interesting concept as we saw in del Toro’s film but it’s never explored here. As soon as the wooden boy comes to life Zemeckis pushes that whole plot line aside. I guess Disney doesn’t love dead kids as much as they love dead parents. Although, I admit that there wasn’t much room to explore it at all. You know, between all the singing and dancing. The other consequence of losing this element is that Gepetto becomes one-note performance. Yes, Tom Hanks is as charming as ever. After that, he’s just got an inconsistent accent and a smile. Nothing memorable.

Clearly, a lot of effort went into getting a great cast here but they’re mostly underused. It’s disgraceful. I mean who casts Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy but then doesn’t let her do anything? The other major players are all fine but, again, they don’t get much to do. The only person who gets a real moment to shine is Luke Evans who gets the chance to belt something out. He’s fabulous but it doesnly add to the plot. It all just feels a bit of a shame to get these people together and do so little with them.

All this wouldn’t be so bad if the story was something to write home about. As it stands, it’s all too quick. We never really see Pinocchio and Gepetto spend time together. So, why are we meant to care when they’re separated? I was not at all invested in their relationship. Then there’s the CGI that sees cats look fake and a cricket look like anything but a cricket. It all combines to make a really unnecessary film. Nothing about this film justifies its existence. Maybe it highlights the fact that Pinocchio was always too weird a story to be telling children? Maybe it just proves that animation is a better format for these stories? Or maybe it just smells of corporate greed? Whatever it is, Pinocchio won’t become a beloved family favourite.

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