REVIEW: Stop-motion animation shines in yet another ‘Pinocchio’ movie
This year saw the release of two Pinocchio films. Disney put out a live action version of their classic animated film, which wasn’t particularly memorable. And now filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has delivered a spirited, stop-motion animation version for Netflix.
Del Toro’s version is better, but it’s still the same old Pinocchio story you’ve heard a thousand times before.
The one saving grace of the new “Pinocchio” is the stop-motion animation. Not yet a lost art, the stop-motion animation is masterfully done. It’s fluid and detailed, full of a life and energy that CGI simply can’t match. For that reason alone, the new “Pinocchio” on Netflix is worth a watch.
The rest of the movie is fine, too, I just don’t think it brings anything new or interesting to the table.
The story is the usual one. Geppetto misses the son who died too young, so he builds a marionette in his grief. The Blue Fairy gives it life, a little cricket friend gives it heart, and then Pinocchio gets lured into showbiz instead of going to school. There’s a whale, a wish and a lot of life lessons about being a real boy.
Surprisingly, this new “Pinocchio” is not much of a kid’s movie, at least not for younger children. There are big stories about grief and war, and a lot of discussion on death. So maybe save this one for your older children to appreciate and understand. The movie is also set in fascist-controlled Italy, circa World War II, so be on the lookout for that.
For older audiences, it’s a fine film. These heady topics are handled well as life lessons for the young, wooden boy, and they help to make the movie its own instead of just being a carbon copy of what Disney has to offer. The new film is not a closer match to the original story from 1883, and largely has its own story to tell (while still adhering to all the major Pinocchio benchmarks).
The voice acting is well done, with a lot of well-known Hollywood names filling out the roles, though not in a distracting way. Ewan McGregor is the most recognizable as the cricket — named Sebastian in this one — and he does an admirable job.
It all really comes down to that gorgeous animation. It’s a treat to behold, easily capturing the magic of Guillermo del Toro’s creative mind and putting it to work on everybody’s favorite walking, talking and singing puppet boy.
Pinocchio had a limited run in theaters, and is now available to stream at home on Netflix.
For more discussion on the film, tune in to the Sentinel Cinema podcast at www.RomeSentinel.com/podcasts.
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