The small wooden puppet who wants to become a real boy is experiencing a year of great cinematographic success. In line with the 1883 novel by Carlo Collodi, the character was reborn in two luxurious and avant -garde film of 2022, directed by exceptional directors. In the hands of Robert Zemeckis, his “Pinocchio” (on Disney +) was a live-action adaptation, mostly faithful to the old Disney animated film of 1940.

A very different interpretation of the character emerges in “Pinocchio di Guillermo del Toro” (on Netflix), an expected, extravagant and dark animation film.

First of all, bad news: Zemeckis’s film is indigestible and somehow worse than his recent flask “Le witches” (2020).

Some directors have benefited from the continuous evolution of the image generated to the computer and its possibilities; With Zemeckis, the first successes of “Who stuck Roger Rabbit” (1988), “Forrest Gump” (1994) and “Contact” (1997) led to the experiment and mostly to the success of “Polar Express” (2004 ).

Dressed in the need for digital realism, 3D improvement and the most recent visual effects technologies, Zemeckis’ determination for CGI fueled by CGI is almost like James Cameron.

Unfortunately, only his recent “Flight” (2012) is worthy of his previous corpus of works. The rest of his recent production, including “A Christmas Carol” (2009) and “The Walk” (2015), presents impressive but evident visual effects and mediocre screenplays (I have not yet seen “Welcome to Marwen”).

Zemeckis’ insistence on the best possible special effects does not make sense if the script is terrible.

Take his “Pinocchio”, with his elaborate and infinite series of CGI characters and visual images from the beginning – Yes, Jiminy Cricket is now composed of pixels, but the effect is not the same.

Grillo now resembles an animated figure and is not as adorable as in its previous animated form. In reality, the current appearance of the character in “Puss in Boots: The Final Need” is preferable.

The story is mostly the same, with Tom Hanks in the role of his father’s carpenter who creates the puppet Pinocchio, who the Turkey Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) makes life come to life. The visit to Pleasure Island and the climatic battle with Monstro are intact. The new additions include a pile of excrement that Pinocchio inspects, a reference to Chris Pine (!) And Hanks singing on “Pizza Pie”.

It seems that Zemeckis just tried to do a good job on paper and is actually unsuitable for the material, just like Tim Burton was for the equally bankruptcy “dumbo”.

Zemeckis’ script and Chris Weitz presents terrible dialogues from start to finish. With a sense of rotten humor, all in the cast (and even the composer Alan Silvestri) are trying too hard to make this work work.

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Zemeckis repeats many scenes from “The Polar Express”, but cannot make them new a second time. What works are the action sequences, which seem designed to indicate possible new attractions in Disney parks.

Hanks, in his fourth collaboration with Zemeckis (after “Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away” and “The Polar Express”), adopts an always different accent and is too young to interpret Geppetto, and Zemeckis finds all the ways to embarrass his Star.

The film is difficult to watch and I can’t imagine a child who prefers it to the much more lively, fascinating and bold original. Despite all technical magic and new songs (if they can be called), this film is a total flask.

In the middle of the film, when Geppetto discovers that his son is going to the island of pleasures, Hanks looks straight in the room and screams: “A crisis!”.

He is perfectly right.

There are several live-action versions of “Pinocchio”, but the best is that of 1984 of “Fairy Tale Theater”, with Paul Reubens in the role of the main character and Alan Arkin in the role of Geppetto.

However, there is also the “Pinocchio” stop-motion animated film by Guillermo del Toro, which takes some freedoms compared to the original story but manages to connect with the sense of loss, the parental fear and the difficult categories of childhood present in the original story.

The film opens with an exciting prologue, which establishes the relationship between Geppetto and his son before Pinocchio’s advent and how he influenced the creation of a wooden child. Pinocchio’s experience is accompanied by the character of Sebastian J. Cricket, dubbed by Ewan McGregor, in a fantastic performance.


‘Pinocchio and the emperor of the night’ is a unique retelling of the classic story Where Pinocchio’s Adventures take place in Italy During World War I. Despite The ABSENCE OF A Giant Sea Creatures, Pinocchio Still Embarks on a Journey of Growth and Self-Discovery in this new Environment.

Directed by Del Toro and Mark Gustafson, this adaptation of Pinocchio had a brief programming in cinemas and was then distributed on Netflix. Considering that the previous work of Del Toro, the wonderful “Nightmare Alley” (best film of last year), achieved little success at the box office, it was a sagacious choice to opt for a streaming distribution with the potential to reach the public as wide as possible.

Some of the characters’ design could frighten children: the film introduces a supernatural plot regarding the inability of Pinocchio to die, which gives life to fun and visually surprising characters.

As for the tone, appearance and quality of animation, this stop-motion film is the first to approach the level of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.

In Del Toro’s latest film, themes of grief, fascism, and anthropomorphism are explored. Anthropomorphism, which is the attribution of human qualities to animals or objects, is often discussed in relation to characters like Disney’s famous animal-based characters or the comic book character Howard the Duck.

However, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” delves deeper into the concept of anthropomorphism by exploring the idea of carving a wooden puppet in the likeness of a human boy as a gesture of remembrance. The film provokes thoughts on the significance of this act and the emotional weight it carries.

Beyond this, the film also touches on themes of grief and fascism, offering a poignant reflection on the turbulent times of World War II. Del Toro’s interpretation of Pinocchio offers a fresh and thought-provoking take on a classic story, making us question our understanding of human identity and what it means to be human.

I have never before come across a version of this story that made me feel as deeply for Geppetto as this one does, not even the sweetest scenes from the 1940 Disney film. The opening of Pinocchio is reminiscent of the introduction of Frankenstein’s monster, and the unexpected supernatural elements only add to the intrigue.

The musical number at the start of the film is a delightful parody, and all of the songs, composed by Alexandre Desplat, are beautiful. While “Ciao, Papa” may be the standout track and a potential Oscar contender, all of the music is deserving of recognition, as is the film itself.

In terms of stop-motion animation, this movie seems to be a groundbreaking achievement both in terms of technique and content. It is not often that a Pinocchio adaptation explores such heartrending themes as fascism and existentialism, as well as the character’s tragic backstory.

Another standout feature is the portrayal of Pinocchio himself, voiced by Gregory Mann, as a realistically childlike and flawed character, rather than a sanitized Disney hero. He is frequently clumsy, cocky, and endearing in his imperfections.

While some may argue that no Pinocchio adaptation can compare to the 1940 animated classic in terms of its magical and haunting quality, this new version not only comes close but also breaks new ground in its approach to the oft-told tale.

In Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, there are certainly monsters, but the real monstrosity lies in the way Pinocchio is exploited by those around him, including the grotesque and scheming Volpe (played by Christoph Waltz) and his monkey assistant (voiced by Cate Blanchett).

It is known that this project was a passion of del Toro’s for many years, and it is evident in the final product. “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is one of the best films of 2022.

In contrast, the recent Disney adaptation of Pinocchio receives a one-star rating, while del Toro’s version earns a well-deserved four stars.

Disney’s Pinocchio: One Superstar
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: 4 Stars

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