Where do I begin with Pinocchio? Disney’s 1940 original is a classic and considered to be one of the best adaptations of the 1880’s fairytale. And there’s certainly no shortage of adaptations. Year after year filmmakers return to the story of the wooden boy and take their shot at breathing new life into the tired tale, just as The Blue Fairy breathed life into a puppet. However, that task has proven to be a difficult one, and lightning doesn’t always strike twice.
Disney’s newest reimagining of Pinocchio continues the studio’s trend of adapting their animated classics into new aged, live action films. The results have waivered drastically in quality. Despite an impressive ensemble and an Academy Award winning director, Pinocchio is as wooden and hollow as a puppet’s head. Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and superstar Tom Hanks have struck gold together in the past with hits like Forrest Gump and Cast Away. So, what went wrong here? The answer, in short, is so, so much went wrong.
On paper Zemeckis (Back To The Future) seemed like a perfect fit. He has a history of creating fan favorite, cult classic films that tell compelling stories with a mix of fun and excitement. However, there is no fun or excitement to be found here. Any drop of it has been drained from the screen like moisture from a log on a fire. What’s left is a dull, and lifeless 112 minutes of Pinocchio moving from one scenario to another with little to no time spent exploring any of them. It feels like series of uninspired shorts, rather than a feature film.
I respect the creative decision to maintain Pinocchio’s signature look from the animated film. And for most of the puppet, it actually works. However, the design’s downfall is the eyes. With no indentation or change of surface level, the eyes appear to float and move about the face in a manner that feels… off. It’s the type of thing you may struggle to explain, but immediately notice and think, “That doesn’t look right. I don’t like that.” Those eyes haunted me for the duration of the film and I fear they’ll follow me into the night; turning my dreams into nightmares of a soulless gaze that could drive even Geppetto to make firewood of his puppet turned boy.
Rather than taking this opportunity to effectively update the story, we get a simple retread of what we’ve already seen. Nothing new is added and nothing new is gained. The end result feels like a cash grab at the name recognition, but how is it a cash grab if it doesn’t receive a wide theatrical release? Pinocchio is a dull and lifeless adaptation that the Blue Fairy should have passed by and left wooden. 2/10