So, for some unknown reason, there were two Pinocchio movies out this year. Disney had their version, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis, which was woke and preachy and I hated it. You can read my review right here.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio seemed to be off to a better start, since it wasn’t Disney. However, this has made it a little mixed. This version doesn’t have the classic songs, although there are new original songs in it, there isn’t a scene where boys are turned into donkeys, and the story is just a little different. The base of the story is the same:
“A father’s wish magically brings a wooden boy to life in Italy, giving him a chance to care for the child.”
The cast is impressive, Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blancehtt, Tim Blake Nelson, Christopher Waltz, and Tilda Swinton.
It starts off with Sebastian Cricket, voiced by McGregor, saying how he’s had an interesting life and wants to settle down and write his memoirs. He finds a tree with a hollow and makes it home.
Sebastian learns about Geppetto and how he lost his son. Geppetto is the local carpenter installing a new Christ on the Cross in the local church, where young Carlo is helping. The church gets bombed and Carlo dies. This opening was a little reminiscent of the opening in Up.
Geppetto ends up cutting down the tree that Sebastian is in and carves himself a little wooden boy, to replace Carlo. In this version, a blue Wood Sprite brings Pinocchio to life and grants a wish to Sebastian if he acts as Pinocchio’s guide through life.
When Geppetto finds the wooden puppet has come alive, he’s scared and locks him in a cupboard, and heads off to church. Pinocchio follows him. Everyone thinks it’s a devil doll and he is told he has to go to school. On the way to school, he meets Count Volpe, who is the ringmaster of the local traveling circus. Pinocchio is conned into going with the circus and Geppetto has to head out looking for him.
This first part of the movie we all know, but this is where it goes off track a little. Geppetto catches up with the circus and gets into a fight with Volpe, where Pinocchio is then hit by a car and dies. He ends up in the afterlife where he meets Death, a sister of the wood sprite.
Death explains that he is basically immortal and sends him back to earth. He decides to join Volpe and the circus, to send money home to dad, and to avoid the draft into the Royal Italian Army. One of the officers there has learned that Pinocchio is immortal and, therefore, is the perfect weapon.
Now, instead of Pleasure Island, it’s a training camp for young men to fight in the army. No one gets turned into a donkey, they get turned into cannon fodder. Pinocchio ends up befriending the main officer’s son.
Geppetto ends up in a giant dogfish, where Pinocchio saves him but dies yet again in the process. This time wants to return to earth as a mortal.
Spoilers About The Ending
This ends with Pinocchio not actually becoming a real boy, but just living as a wooden boy, but mortal. This was a little disappointing, but nowhere near as disappointing as the Disney version which taught you that you can be whatever you want to be, if you just believe it.
This ending was much less preachy. It was not perfect, but it was better.
End Of Spoilers
The animation in this was amazing. A real “master class”. Seriously, I haven’t seen animation this good in a while. It was really great all the way through, and add del Toro as a director then it’s a perfect combination.
This is a musical with all new and original songs. I liked them a lot, but I did miss I Got No Strings To Hold Me Down, which is owned by Disney.
Comparing the two movies, the Disney version is a cash grab what was made for the “modern audience” and suffered because of it. It felt soulless and I will never, ever watch it again.
Guillermo del Toro’s version isn’t perfect, but it’s so much better. There may have been preaching in it, but I didn’t notice it, the story is a little different, and the songs are missing, but it’s a million times better than the version Disney barfed up.
I would say give this new version a try, I would be happy to watch it again.