Too many strings hold the Pinocchio remake down

Some people say that the world is getting worse. They’re probably right. After all, we now live in a world where we have to deal with global warming, Tiktok dances and Disney’s live-action remakes of classic animated films. Especially that last one. Disney has been credited as a pioneer in 2D animation, and is the studio behind many of the most beloved animated movies of all time. Unfortunately, another aspect of Disney is their immense desire for money. Naturally, it wasn’t long before Disney realized that remaking these classic stories in live-action would be an instant recipe for success. Of course, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem if those remakes were good, right?

Well, they weren’t.

And, it seems that Disney doesn’t know when to stop, because a remake of Pinocchio dropped on Disney Plus on September 8. This time, the movie appeared to actually interest a surprising amount of people. Some even had high expectations. Unfortunately, that made the film all the more disappointing.

From a story perspective, Pinocchio (2022) is a strange mashup of faithful and unfaithful. On one hand, most story elements remain very similar to the original iteration. On the other hand, several scenes from the original have been completely erased and a few key story beats have been changed, such as the addition of Geppetto’s new deceased son. Normally, I think a solid blend of faithfulness and innovation are a good foundation for a remake, but the new content has to feel like it fits with the original material and the old content still has to work in the context of the remake. In Pinocchio (2022), most of the new additions feel soulless and many of the classic elements are either cut down or simply don’t translate well into the medium of live-action film.

The element that feels most out of place outside of animation is the animals. The story of Pinocchio has several animal characters. Some behave like normal animals while others are anthropomorphic and possess the ability to speak. What they share in common is that they were made with CG technology, and the result of these computer generated creatures thrown into a realistic world is a jarring mess. Some, like the cat, aren’t that bad, while others, like the fish with its human-like face, look disturbing and alien. These CG designs are likely the result of an attempt to be faithful to the source material, but are unfortunately very out of place in a live-action remake.

When it comes to returning scenes in the movie, many are hindered by poor pacing. The movie clocks in at 1 hour and 45 minutes, which is a perfectly fine length for many movies. However, Pinocchio is a story that features multiple smaller stories within it and the remake naturally extends a few scenes. This means that, in order to keep a decent pace, the remake’s writers and producers could either make the movie longer or cut and shorten other scenes. Unfortunately, the finished product lacks much of the magic that made the original so special to so many people. Pinocchio (2022)’s story is a shell of its former self, covering plot points in a way that feels more like checking off a list than crafting an experience.

Also, for some reason the liquid physics are really weird.

That’s not to say there weren’t any parts of the movie that I enjoyed. Most of the actors were good, and there were some parts of the movie that were visually impressive, such as Stromboli’s puppet show and the chase scene with Monstro at the end. Speaking of Monstro, the massive whale got a redesign, now sporting squid-like tentacles and sharper teeth. It’s a strange departure from the original design, but I actually thought it looked pretty solid and made the chase sequence more tense.

I definitely can’t say I enjoyed the movie. There were many things I’d rather have done with my time. It wasn’t one of the worst movies I’ve watched, but I would say it was bad. The worst part, though, is that it perpetuates the negative sentiment towards live-action Disney remakes. Many believed that Pinocchio (2022) would break the cycle, but I, and most of the reviews, would disagree. 

Overall, I’d have to rate Pinocchio (2022) one and a half stars out of five. Honestly, that may be a little generous, but I’m in a giving mood.