GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO
Starring: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Ron Perlman, Cate Blanchett, Finn Wolfhard, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton
Director: Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson
After multiple iterations of Pinocchio over the course of several decades, you would think we had seen everything this tale can provide. However, in comes Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio to prove that notion wrong. There is so much to praise about this film that goes beyond 100 words: the updates to the source material are brilliant, the stop-motion animation is mind-blowing, the score feels legitimately magical, and the film’s themes of grief and love are outright beautiful to the point where I was in tears for the final 10 minutes. I truly believe this film is a masterpiece.
Guillermo del Toro is one of the best fantasy filmmakers of all time, and he once again proves it with this adaptation. An improvement on the 1940 Disney classic in every way, this is nothing short of a masterpiece. Del Toro leans into darker aspects of the story to create an unforgiving and honest commentary on mortality bolstered by some terrific voice work and stunning visuals. In a year where Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (a great film in its own right) felt like a foregone conclusion awards-wise, Pinocchio has blown that guarantee out of the water. An exceptional effort by del Toro.
Of the two Pinocchio adaptations moviegoers received this year, Guillermo del Toro’s proves to be the far superior in every possible category. One of the year’s best animated films, del Toro manages to appeal to both adults and kids alike, delivering a fun adventure while also dwelling on the magnificence that is life. With stellar vocal work from Gregory Mann and David Bradley (Pinocchio and Geppetto, respectively), the emotion shines through the performances, providing a wonderful father and son story that will stand the test of time. In all, del Toro continues to prove he’s one of the best in any genre and any medium of storytelling.
If judging purely on craftsmanship, I’d give Pinocchio five reels. The character design is stunningly beautiful and hauntingly detailed, while the stop-motion animation is absolutely flawless. However, as a whole, the film didn’t do much for me. It could be that I was already too familiar with where the story needed to go, or the overly saccharine plot points and bland musical numbers just weren’t for me; either way, I found myself increasingly bored, making the two-hour runtime a struggle. Also, I’m not exactly sure who it’s for, as it feels simultaneously too dark for kids and too childlike for adults. It sure is pretty, though.
Although I wouldn’t quite consider it a masterpiece, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is nonetheless one of the year’s best films, especially wherein it concerns animation. A multi-layered story of found family, love, loss, and bravery in the face of terror, this richly-textured piece of wonder features gorgeous stop-motion craftwork buoyed by yet another terrific Alexandre Desplat score and great sound design. Some of the dialogue and story progression is a bit broad, as is typical of the Pinocchio story, but del Toro’s affinity for weird creatures and unconventional settings make up for nearly all shortcomings. This one is special.
Guillermo del Toro incredibly balances light and dark to tell deep stories in simple ways. That’s why he’s such a great horror director (read: director, period). So, it’s no wonder he re-imagined the most horrifying of all Disney classics, Pinocchio. It’s delightful, harrowing, brutal, and charming, with fantastic voice work (especially Ewan McGregor) and impeccable storytelling. But most striking is the air of constant sadness that sticks with you. The beautiful sadness of knowing that we must cherish our short time on Earth. See? Light and dark. Del Toro wonderfully utilizes both to bring us one of the year’s best films.
Like Geppetto (David Bradley), director Guillermo del Toro brings the magical tale of Pinocchio to life! With such astonishingly rich stop-motion animation and an outstanding score, del Toro and his team bring his unique style to the forefront of this gem while also appreciating the lore of this classic story. I’m not quite sure how the mature material, which reflects on the power of love, loss, and the preciousness of life, will sit with a younger audience, but I assume the older watchers will appreciate it much more because, damn, this film will give you all the feels.