Disney continues to botch their animated classics with “Pinocchio”


Photo courtesy of Disney

Disney’s new remake of “Pinocchio” is the latest in a never-ending cycle of reimagined animated classics.

Ian Lloyd, Staff Writer

“Pinocchio” is this year’s first “live-action” remake from Disney. The company has continued the trend of transforming its wonderful catalog of animated classics into star lead live-action features directed by noteworthy directors. This film in particular was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who has spent the last two decades incorporating ambitious computer-generated imaging, or CGI, effects into his filmmaking.

Toy maker Geppetto (Tom Hanks) creates a puppet boy named Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) to help fill the void in his lonely heart. After Geppetto makes a wish on a shining star, a fairy comes to grant his desire and give life to the puppet boy. Pinocchio wants to become a real boy to please his father and his newfound conscience, Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Pinocchio embarks on an adventure and meets multiple colorful characters along the way as he learns the values of an honest boy.

Disney’s newest version of “Pinocchio” struggled to give the audience anything of value for the entirety of its run time. It told the exact same story as the original film while making everything worse. Half of the cast is portrayed through CGI, so it’s difficult to even call this a live-action film.

Zemeckis was once a master of storytelling with classics like “Back to the Future” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” but now he makes lifeless films that lack any sort of soul. There is nothing visually interesting or innovative with his filmmaking craft in this movie. It highlights the sad trajectory of this man’s career ever since he began dabbling in computer-generated visual effects starting with “The Polar Express” in 2004.

Tom Hanks, who has collaborated with Zemeckis in previous films played Geppetto for this remake. I would love to say that he was a highlight of the film, but his performance comes off as stale and lazy. Hanks did nothing new or interesting, which only solidifies how empty this film is as a whole.

Pinocchio himself looks like a toy you would find at a Disney store. No effort was made to make the design feel new or more realistic. He looks like an uncanny cartoon character that doesn’t belong in the world this film is set in. 

Pinocchio’s new design looks like a mass produced toy you would find at a Disney store. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

The journey of this puppet boy feels more underwhelming and tragic than ever before. He is an optimistic lad that gets beaten down by the world time and time again. Pinocchio encounters villains who wish to use him for their own benefit, and it’s difficult not to associate that behavior with the Disney executives who keep remaking these beloved classics.

Halfway through this film, Pinocchio and a bunch of rowdy kids are taken by the Coachman (Luke Evans) to a place called Pleasure Island. It’s an amusement park utopia that allows the kids to do all the things that their parents and elders disallowed. Like the original film, the kids are horrifically transformed into donkeys for acting on their impulses. The Coachman sells off these donkeys as slaves and then proceeds to round up more kids.

Just like the brats on Pleasure Island, we have become slaves of the stories we once loved. Disney+ continues to pump out content almost exclusively based on pre-established franchises. Much of this content feels half-baked and mediocre, but since we are already attached to these characters and stories, we feel obliged to watch them even if they are consistently bland and uninspired.

Pleasure Island is a false utopia that traps its victims for indulging in their desires. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

“Pinocchio” is just another remake that falls short in bringing anything new or substantial to a timeless tale. It proves that not every classic needs to be remade, especially when it comes to beautiful animation being sacrificed for ugly CGI. “Pinocchio” is a pure waste of time and talent, and deserves nothing more than a two out of 10.

Disney is continuing their downward spiral by reusing their old successes to get more eyes on these products, with little to offer the viewer as a result. They parade around these film properties like puppets on a string, with no regard to the artistry or worth that was once present long ago. Disney isn’t trying to sell you their movies anymore, they only need to sell you their brand.