FAN EFFECT REVIEW: Disney’s latest version of ‘Pinocchio’ is a nostalgic dose of CGI magic
This is an editorial piece. Like a news article, an editorial is based on facts and shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.
SALT LAKE CITY — The adventures of a little wooden boy have captured the imaginations of audiences worldwide for generations ever since the newspaper debut of “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1881. But none of the subsequent imaginative retellings of Pinocchio has left a greater imprint on most people’s hearts than the 1940 Walt Disney Productions animated musical fantasy “Pinocchio.”
The film was a hit from the start, winning two academy awards and introducing the now iconic song “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Now, some 82 years later, Disney debuts a new(ish) version of the classic, this time with a nostalgic dose of CGI magic and a deeper focus on Pinocchio’s father figure Geppetto, played by none other than Tom Hanks.
Most of Disney’s film offerings have had traditional theatrical releases, but technology and audience preferences have allowed for more direct-to-consumer releases by home streaming, which sadly often limits the quality of the program.
The question for many potential viewers is if the streaming film is worth watching Pinocchio
My answer is sure, if you want a shot of Disney nostalgia and enjoy CGI wonder. But it’s not a life-changing adaptation.
“Pinocchio” follows the much-worn plot of a wooden boy, created by the hands and wishes of a lonely creator, who embarks on an effort to become a real flesh-and-bone boy. The puppet takes on a colorful world of characters and locations with his naive and newly-painted eyes.
Along the way, Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) meets a patchwork of interesting characters and temptations; from Honest John’s (voiced by comedian Keegan-Michael Key) argument that being famous is better than being educated, to the alluring call of gluttony over control from the Pleasure Island’s Coachman (Luke Evans).
But Pinocchio is not left to fight temptation himself. He is guided by his father Geppetto, given direction from The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), and mentored by his dedicated external conscience Jiminy Cricket (astoundingly and expertly voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
There are some new plot points and characters to keep track of, including a talking seagull named Sofia (voiced by Lorraine Bracco) and an earnest puppeteer named Sabina (Jaquita Ta’le).
While the film is called a “live-action” adaptation, frankly it is more computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation mixed with live-actor performances. Even the feel of the sets, props, characters, and costumes is very colorful and animated, which could be distracting. The animation style is a blend of realistic and fanciful. It pays homage to the classic looks and details of the 1940 film.
Tom Hanks as Geppetto adds a fatherly warmth and heart. This is particularly notable as he plays off mostly animated characters. Additional scores and Broadway-styled songs and choreography supplement the original music. The producers scattered updated humor and Disney-fuelled easter eggs throughout, gaining quite a few chuckles.
The movie drags at times, with a run time of 1 hour and 45minutes. But nostalgia can help viewers overcome that hurdle.
Rated PG, but family-friendly for most households
Rated PG for peril/scary moments, rude material, and some language, the film is family-friendly for most households. The most problematic ‘scares’ for younger viewers might be the appearance of Monstro, the whale-like sea monster. Or, the villainous showman Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston).
For parents worried about some of the behavior found on Pleasure Island in the original film, there is no need to worry about childhood alcohol and tobacco use. Disney finds different ways for the kids to make an ‘ass’ of themselves.
As a moral tale, the film could be a great springboard for parent-guided conversations. The topics could include peer pressure, identifying dangerous strangers, choice and accountability, the importance of communication, and more.
“Pinocchio” gives a modern touch to the animated classic. It offers CGI-infused magic and a handful of updated plot points and a diversity of players. There is a reason the new film is debuting on streaming on a day that celebrates the existing Disney fandom; the producers made it for existing fans. So if you approach the movie with that in mind and appreciate you are not paying for a ticket in a movie theater auditorium, you can enjoy this imaginative re-telling from the comfort of your own home.
Beyond Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Gaming and Tech, the brains behind Fan Effect are connoisseurs of categories surpassing the nerdy. Listen regularly on your favorite platform, at kslnewsradio.com, or on the KSL App. Join the conversation on Facebook @FanEffectShow, Instagram @FanEffectShow, and Twitter @FanEffectShow. Fan Effect is sponsored by Megaplex Theatres, Utah’s premiere movie entertainment company.
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