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Pinocchio Review: Tom Hanks starrer Disney remake is visually striking but emotionally tepid

Name: Pinocchio

Rating: 3 / 5


Pinocchio Cast: Tom Hanks, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cynthia Erivo

Pinocchio Director: Robert Zemeckis 

Streaming Platform: Disney+ Hotstar

Pinocchio Stars: 2.5/5

Disney's live-action remakes haven't always garnered favourable reactions since the audience still remains divided over the matter. In the past, we have seen several classics being turned into live-action that have been perfect adaptations for the generation today and a great example of that would be Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book. In the case of Pinocchio though, it's not an easy adaptation given how it also happens to be one of Disney's darkest tales. It's emotionally heavy and at the same time has wondrous nature to it and to capture those elements without making it a spectacle with live-actions tools is a tough job and director Robert Zemeckis does seem to get lost in the grandeur of things here.

Modernising a  1940s classic in something that will resonate today on multiple levels is a tough job and while Zemeckis is the kind of director you would expect to take on such a task, he does try to stay close to the original film while also trying to change it into the kind of film that kids today who are growing in the Marvel-DC film era will enjoy. Most of the original songs also make it into the film from the 40s original and they serve as a nostalgic reminder to those who have grown up with the classic. They are also a reminder of why re-watching the original film would be better than settling for this upgrade, much like an iPhone version no one asked for. 

If you're familiar with the story of Pinocchio, it remains the same in this remake as well, where we meet the little boy puppet, Pinocchio (Ben Ainsworth), who is carved by the kind and lonely woodcarver, Gepetto (Tom Hanks). Mou
ing the loss of his own young son, Gepettomakes a wish for his creation to become real and through the magic of The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), Pinocchio is brought to life. Although as a real boy, he must prove himself to be unselfish, and true. Serving as his conscience,  Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) promises to help Pinocchio to prove himself amid all the dark temptations. The highlight of the story has always been Pinocchio's trip to Pleasure Island and it gets quite a different treatment compared to the classic in this remake. 

A lot of decisions taken to make this film seem forced to make it watchable for children today and it's possibly this very vision of modernising the story that takes away the magic of its powerful story. The beautiful message that the film is supposed to give seems to get lost in all the pomp and show. There's also a lot of unnecessary spoon-feeding we get to see in this version of the film as we see Geppetto explaining what happened to his family, things which were meant to be as subtext being spelt out make the film seem more contrived. Among other major disappointments also happen to be the insertion of modern humour with Honest John's character (Keegan-Michael Key), cracking lines about Pinocchio becoming an "influencer" and that a suitable name for him would be "Chris Pine." 

Among the pluses of the film, are elements such as the detailing with which Gepetto's workshop has been designed. There's also The Blue Fairy's interpretation with Cynthia Erivo appearing in an angelic manner is also a moment from the film that reminds you that it's a Disney film. Gepetto's Italian town also looks quaint and closer to what the classics have described it as. The film also makes some great additions to the story with the likes of, the talking seagull, Sofia (Lorraine Bracco), and the young puppeteer Fabiana (Kyanne Lamaya). 

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