- Tyler Banark
Yes, Disney's live-action remakes may lack the heart and genuineness of their animated counterparts, but as long as they get the views, the execs at the mouse house could care less about anything else. With Pinocchio being the latest victim of the conglomerate's cash-grabbing strategy, it gives a keen reminder of where the jingle from the opening studio logo comes from. I have no personal connection to the original 1940 film, but I couldn't pass on it with Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks attached. Despite their good intentions, Pinocchio is another run-of-the-mill live-action remake of the mouse house that still left no room for creativity.
Hanks is the movie's main selling point as Geppeto, a lonely old clockmaker who wishes for nothing more than a real son in his life and not the titular wooden puppet he made. After making a wish, the wooden boy comes to life and wishes to pursue the dream of becoming a real human boy. Although similar to the source material, Zemeckis' Pinocchio had some new characters, such as Fabiana, her marionette Sabina, and Sofia the seagull. These new characters are nuanced and don't add much to the story, but they never feel unnecessary. None of the characters felt out of place, mainly because this is a remake, and if you know the story, you know what you're in for.
Aside from Hanks, the cast as a whole seemed a bit inconsistent as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Jiminy Cricket felt odd with him doing a weird voice, while unrecognizable, that creeped me out. Whenever he spoke, I wasn't sure if JGL was trying to do a caricature take on the role or if what he was doing was spot on with what the character was supposed to be. On the other hand, Keegan-Michael Key fit in as Honest John; he brought that energetic charisma from his Key and Peele days, which helped a lot, given the role consists of him being a mischievous fox. Lastly, Luke Evans has a small role as the Pleasure Island coachman. He does a musical number, and that's it. However, after doing this and playing Gaston in the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast, I'm convinced that he enjoys doing these lifeless films.
The movie's effects are worth mentioning, as this movie is a massive CGI fest. If I had a dollar for every shot in this film that I could tell was from a green screen, I'd have a fortune. Whether it was kids sliding down a mountain of candy or seeing fake water splash into Hanks' face, the effects were distracting as they could easily take viewers out of the movie. The worst part about it was anytime Pinocchio had a close-up; he looked like a cartoon character in the worst way possible. The good thing about the effects here is that they don't seem reminiscent of the motion capture from two Zemeckis films from the 2000s resembling the uncanny valley: 2004's The Polar Express and 2009's A Christmas Carol.
Finally, it's been occurring to me that Zemeckis seems like a director that's way beyond his prime and needs to call it quits. I think he's only made one movie since Cast Away that I'd consider be solid, and that was 2015's The Walk. I know he didn't mean any poor intentions to Pinocchio, but when he's making a film such as this for a studio like Disney, one would think he'd be allowed to take some creative liberties. Unfortunately, this is not the case here, and it shows. The only time I felt this wasn't the case was during the finale, Gepetto gave a mini-monologue, and it hit hard enough to the point where it drove me to tears. To make matters worse, Disney has some unnecessary Easter eggs and callbacks to other films sprinkled throughout that are cringe-worthy.
Overall, Pinocchio is a remake not worth the time and energy to watch. Unless that is if you're a fan of the original and want to watch it for nostalgia. It may be released only on Disney+, which is pretty deserving, given how much quality and substance this movie lacks.