Disney has done it again, adapting one of its all-time classics into a live-action film that no one particularly asked for. Disney’s attempt to recreate the solid, wholesome story of “Pinocchio,” gets lost in translation, failing to be worthy of anything besides its story. Since the puppet is known for not having its strings attached, this film should be known for the same thing, not having anything to pull it up on its own.
“Pinocchio” recounts the classic tale of a wooden puppet, voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, brought to life after his maker, Geppetto, wished upon a star. Given a chance at humanity, Pinocchio must go on a journey to understand honesty and selflessness. The gimmicks still remain, his growing wooden nose to his desire to become a real boy.
Since the story has been told for hundreds of years, it’s surprising that the whole remake focuses solely on relaying its narrative, rather daring to switch up the gears or modernize it. The original Disney animation was stylistic and artistic but the remake severely lacks beauty.
The film makes some bizarre script choices, inserting several corny jokes throughout. The jokes in question are only for the older audiences to understand, including a joke about taxes and one peculiar joke about actor Chris Pine. Comedy was an afterthought in the remake, whereas the narrative was so desperate to shine through its entirety.
A few new songs were added to the pre-existing soundtrack, though they don’t add much to the story. The vocal performances were subpar, they carried the story along, but the vocality wasn’t much to be remembered.
For the most part, the film feels like a rushed project, poorly developed in several places like CGI effects and the overbearing narrative. It could be because Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion “Pinocchio” is set to release within the next few months and Disney wanted to beat them to it. Hopefully, Del Toro’s adaptation considers a different approach to the classic tale if it wants a chance at being successful.
Heart and soul were poured into Pinocchio’s CGI, but not for any other character, including Figaro, the charming kitten who could have easily been replaced with an actual feline. Pinocchio’s visuality is stunning and pleasing to the eye, softly resembling the original’s animation style. Everything else that wasn’t given the same CGI treatment resulted in some gnarly, slightly discomforting visuals.
The once animated animal characters now have some humanistic traits, which has become normal in Disney live-action remakes. The transition, no matter how well done, never seems to fully encapsulate the magic of the previous animation it's aiming to replicate.
One of the only exemplary aspects of the film is the casting choices and performances. With a cast full of big names and newcomers, there is something exciting in nearly every performance.
Tom Hanks put his all into his performance, though it wasn’t enough to save the film. His role as Geppetto is worthy of some remarkability, especially in the film’s opening sequences, but his character fizzles out and so does his established storyline.
Joseph Gordon Levitt is almost unrecognizable as the voice of the film’s narrator, Jiminy Cricket. Keegan-Michael Key’s rendition of the Honest Fox is somewhat charming thanks to his voice acting, however, the horrendous CGI makes him look like a raunchy Robin Hood.
Casting Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy was a significantly amazing choice, one of the only notable changes the remake had to offer since the original character wasn’t an African American woman. Though only appearing for a short time, Erivo brought a small batch of magic through her angelic voice in the classic song, “When You Wish Upon A Star”.
Overall, it’s obvious why the film went straight to streaming and not to the box office. It fails to add anything new except a few measly songs, a number of quirky Disney references and a satisfyingly diverse cast.
As per usual, a child wouldn’t notice the mediocrity of the film, but long-time fans of Disney sure will. For a film that had no anticipation or hype, it gets back what it deserved. Instead of striving for originality, Disney stuck to its failing formula and continues to remake what can’t be remade. Without strings attached, Disney truly failed at making “Pinocchio” a real movie.