Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Robert Zemeckis and Chris Weitz
Starring: Tom Hanks, Benhamin Evan Ainsworth, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Keegan-Michael Key, Cynthia Erivo, and Luke Evans
For some reason Disney has felt the need to remake some of their most beloved animated classics into live action over the last few years, with very mixed results. The Lion King felt like a carbon copy, that shouldn’t have been made in the first place, Dumbo was just a complete mess, and Aladdin was surprisingly quite fun. The one thing all of the remakes have in common, though, is that they don’t live up to the originals, and Pinocchio, the latest Disney classic to receive the live action treatment, continues this trend.
Robert Zemeckis co-writes and directs Pinocchio, a remake that no one was really asking for and one that is faithful to the source material. If you’ve seen the original Disney’s Pinocchio, then you know pretty much what to expect from this adaptation. The same story, told mostly in the same way, with very little deviation from the original story. Geppetto (Tom Hanks) wishes life into his newly built puppet, Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), who in turn has to be brave, truthful and selfless to become a real boy.
While there’s no major changes to the story, there are a few new additions that. One of the better new plot points is Geppetto being given a tragic backstory, where he longs for a boy, due to losing his own child years earlier. It’s a small moment, but it gives more weight to the story and wish that brings life to Pinocchio. Tom Hanks is good in the role, bringing all the charisma that you’d expect from him. Still, this is the weakest collaboration between Hanks and Zemeckis, who previously worked together on Cast Away, The Polar Express and obviously Forrest Gump.
Zemeckis also makes good use of CGI here, with some cute animals mixed in with the live action humans. It’s a little jarring when it first starts, but they blend well together by the time that Pinocchio first becomes alive. Geppetto’s cat Figaro looks a little too unreal, but the fox ‘Honest’ John, and his cat partner, both look great. Pinocchio also looks great, and there’s only a couple of moments when you’re really aware you’re looking at CGI, sadly that’s most notable when he’s upset towards the end, which completely undermines the moment.
While the film starts off quite charming, especially with the assortment of fun Disney themed cuckoo clocks in Geppetto’s workshop, the further you get into the story the more it feels like it’s just going through the emotions. For the most part this is a straight remake of the 1940s cartoon, and the embellishments aren’t great additions to the story. The charm definitely runs thin as the story just goes through the motions.
The 2022 live-action remake of Pinocchio is passable, but as it’s on Disney Plus you may as well just watch the far superior 1940 animated classic. Like so many of the Disney remakes of the last few years, this just doesn’t seem necessary, but at least it’s not as bad as Tim Burton’s Dumbo.
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