In Pinocchioby Robert Zemeckis and now available on Disney+, the influence of the classic and beloved animated version is obvious. The camera travels through the emblematic places of the story to give them a renewed vitality. But, especially, to demonstrate the resemblance between the 1940 film and the remake live action. There is an obvious need for the director to make clear his respect for the famous production. And he does so every time the screenplay by Simon Farnaby, Chris Weitz and Zemeckis himself celebrates history through homage.
In a combination of several installments of the original tale and the iconic animation, Pinocchio provides the rare feeling of a timeless capsule. This, despite the careful set design or the intelligent use of lighting as the central point of several sequences. But Zemeckis does not want Pinocchio to be recognizable as part of an era.
Rather, he maneuvers with the singular possibility of being as ideal as the feelings he is carefully trying to construct. During its first ten minutes, the film makes it clear that it is a story within a story. A combination, at times irregular, between the enthusiasm for narrating a beloved story and for doing a visual experiment.
TThe entire feature film seems created to the greater glory of the studio. A methodical journey through the elements that made the original a moving classic. the iconic song the blue star accompanies the character most of the time. Also, Pinocchio himself (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is, point for point, identical to the original. Except for the appearance of the Blue Fairy (played by an ethereal Cynthia Erivo), each shot is almost an ideal transition from drawing to digital image. With his air of theatrical work and his ability to sustain an atmosphere with few elements, Pinocchio tries, with energy, to move.
A tour of the world of Pinocchio imagined by Disney
It is not a casual decision, nor is it a way of using nostalgia in favor of production. It is evident that the director strives to reconstruct a world endowed with identity. For Zemeckis, it is of considerable importance that, despite coming from one of Disney’s most celebrated films, Pinocchio from 2022 can function as a single work. For that, try small subtleties, such as a more adult-than-expected sense of humor. Even with some puns that refer to the very center of the perception of reality and fantasy.
But the little flashes of wit don’t outweigh the immediate intention of the film, and that is, of course, to bring Pinocchio to life as a story. Particularly, the celebrated and already historic Disney version, which marked a before and after in his journey through animation.
An undertaking that Zemeckis took so seriously that the result sometimes seems limited and rigid. If something puzzles Pinocchio it is her inability to go beyond the concrete lines that link her to the iconic animated film. The production has little ambition and is much more focused on being bright, funny and sensitive. Something that, without a doubt, it is. However, the combination is not enough to sustain an interesting cinematic narrative.
Pinocchio reaches a new generation without much to offer
The film lacks a life of its own. Quite a play on words in the middle of an argument that links the vital spark with desire and intention. But, in the hands of Zemeckis, the allegory falls short, it becomes a journey through common places without the slightest distinctive feature.
Time and time again, the film falters at the most exciting moments. The script does not delve into what creates the possibility of a miracle based on love. With an inexplicable coldness, the premise moves towards the need to show the spectacular, instead of the humility of the subtle. The endearing scene in which a lonely Geppetto (Tom Hanks) desperately begs lacks sensitivity. This plea to the blue star, a scene that is part of classic cinema, reaches the live action lackluster and shallow.
Even Hanks’ performance seems wooden and without much substance. His Geppetto is a flesh and blood replica of the animated one, without any distinctive features or subtleties. It seems that the actor decided to show the kindness of the character through plainness. An empty version of a greater symbol.
In the animated story, Geppetto’s pain was shown so alive and real as to be able to be heard by a fairy. This time, it’s just a plaintive plea, a passing scene that might not matter if it weren’t for its consequences. The difference seems small, but in a story that depends on the impossible — and how it is expressed — its importance is fundamental.
For your first leg, the wonder of the wooden boy that comes to life happened. However, he left no traces in the audience. Beyond, of course, the attention to detail of the production to build a replica on an amazing scale of the great Disney story. Something that he achieves with skill and, especially, with a wide repertoire of technical resources at his fingertips.
The work comes to life at the expense of its personality
From Geppetto’s workshop to the vividly colored streets of an idyllic Tuscany. The filmmaker managed to capture the dreamlike atmosphere of both Carlo Collodi’s original story and his most famous film adaptation. The animation version of Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen, Norman Ferguson and Wilfred Jackson amazes with its neatness.
Without a doubt, Pinocchio is a rigorous film about his origin. Every detail is conceived with a meticulous capacity for homage. Much more, when it comes to a unique way in which Disney pays homage to one of his best-known works. On which, in addition, a good part of its identity as a brand depends.
In fact, the entire feature film seems created to the greater glory of the studio. A methodical journey through the elements that made the original a moving classic. the iconic song the blue star accompanies the character most of the time. Also, Pinocchio himself (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is, point for point, identical to the original.
Except for the appearance of the Blue Fairy (played by an ethereal Cynthia Erivo), each shot is almost an ideal transition from drawing to digital image. With its air of theatrical work and its ability to sustain an atmosphere with few elements, Pinocchio tries, with energy, to move.
After the ride, hand in hand to a lackluster conclusion
But he doesn’t. Despite all his good intentions and Zemeckis’s undoubted talent for building a self-contained world, the film falls apart fast. For its third section, after a good part of its most spectacular and remembered scenes, the production moves towards a soft ending.
That, despite making a decision that reinterprets the known narrative. Almost surprisingly, the argument explores a message more related to self-knowledge and acceptance than to wonders. A slight narrative contradiction to everything raised up to then, which ends up being the weakest point of the film.
Pinocchio, which depends on the endearing as well as the spiritual to dialogue with its strongest elements, fails to find a balance between the two. In the conclusion, the lack of depth in its premise is notorious. A disconcerting detail in a fairy tale that, in its most powerful moments, is a cautionary tale about identity and grieving. Something that is missing in the version of Zemeckis.