Anyone who has been following my content knows how much I disliked the recent Disney remake of their animated classic Pinocchio. It honestly made me sick and disgusted the studio could put out something so badly made. So let’s just say Pinocchio needed a little bit of a refurbishment and since this is the year of Pinocchio we didn’t have to wait long to get a vastly superior version from director Guillermo del Toro.
This version is done using stop motion animation and it is a fresh exciting new take on a classic story, coming from a master storyteller like del Toro. To begin with the animation is absolutely outstanding and mesmerizing. Unlike the recent Wendell & Wild, which I found leaned on CG too much, this stop motion has the wonder and charm of feeling like wooden puppets (which they are) moving through this unique world. The amount of time it must have taken to get multiple elements in each frame moving is awe inspiring. For example, Geppetto has a full beard that seamlessly moves as he travels through a scene.
The story to this Pinocchio is quite different than the Disney animated classic so go in knowing that’s the case. It deals with themes of grief, loss, war, religion in ways the original never touches on. They also completely eliminate Pleasure Island in favor of a long section where Pinocchio is a soldier at war (this section could be trimmed down a little). They also completely change the Blue Fairy into a Wood Sprite with a gatekeeping magical fairy sister who guards the heavens from immortals like Pinocchio.
I also didn’t realize this version of Pinocchio has new original songs. While none of them by Alexandre Desplat are particularly memorable they are sweet and endearing.
In the grand tradition of Pinocchio I am not sure how kid-friendly this version of the story is. Like I said, it covers some pretty grown-up material. I’m actually surprised it got away with a PG rating. If you do see it with your kids make sure to have a good conversation with them about war, religion and how we treat people who look different than ourselves. Who knows its darker themes could lead to a great family moment?
The voice acting is all excellent including Ewan McGregor, Swinton, Ron Perlman and more. I loved the character design and how they didn’t feel a need to copy the animated classic but just did their own thing.
If I was going to give any critiques, the war section goes on too long and feels a little repetitive and is too downbeat for this kind of film. I worry a lot of kids will be bored by the serious themes of the film but then again that has always been the case with Pinocchio, so this is no different. When Geppetto calls Pinocchio a burden it is very intense and emotionally grueling.
Fortunately GDT’s Pinocchio is getting a short release in the theater and if you have a chance to see it on the big screen I highly recommend it. If not, make sure to check it out on Netflix Dec 9th.
8.5 out of 10
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