'Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio' Review: Dark and funny, this 'bold' reimagining is an awe-inspiring masterpiece
When Guillermo Del Toro announced that he was working on a movie based on 'Pinocchio', the big question was how would he make the story distinctive from its previous renditions. Besides, Disney had already announced their own version of the story in 2022. Unfortunately, Disney's version proved underwhelming and had to face quite the wrath from viewers, which meant Del Toro had his task cut out for him. The challenge was to give audiences something they could cherish, and the maestro has done exactly that with 'Pinocchio'.
The movie, titled 'Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio', had its world premiere at this year's London Film Festival and we were some of the lucky few who got a chance to watch it on the big screen. Based on the 1883 novel 'The Adventures of Pinocchio', the movie takes place in Italy where a woodcarver named Geppetto is living a happy life with his son Carlo. Italy is being ruled by the Fascists and it's all about making young children ready for the war. One day, Geppetto and Carlo go to church to finish the huge statue of Jesus Christ. However, Geppetto soon starts to feel that something is not right. They leave the church, but Carlo goes back inside to get his toy and dies after one of the fighter planes drops a bomb on the church. Geppetto becomes inconsolable and starts drinking. One day, he decides to make a boy out of wood and requests the gods to put life in it so that he can have his son back.
Now, we know how this story moves forward, but there's something unique about this stop-motion adaptation. From the very first sequence, it becomes quite clear that this version of 'Pinocchio' will be a lot darker than the ones we have seen before. What can be more disastrous than seeing young children being forced to defend the borders of the country and making them ready to die for their fatherland under Mussolini's reign? Despite all this, the movie manages to explore grief and fatherhood rather beautifully. Del Toro didn't shy away from bringing some major changes to the original storyline and gives something new to the audiences - something they will remember for many years to come. Everything comes to life with some really extraordinary stop-motion animation from Mark Gustafson, who co-directed the movie with Del Toro. Gustafson is known for his distinctive stop-motion animation feature films and 'Pinocchio' is another worthy addition to his projects.
This is the first time that 'Pinocchio' has been done in stop-motion, and it's also the first 'Pinocchio' movie where the wooden puppet boy who comes to life is being played by an actual puppet. Even though the wooden puppet is unfinished, raw, and nothing like Carlo, Del Toro doesn't show any interest in making the character perfect. Those imperfections make the character even more relatable. On the other hand, the filmmaker also brings darkness and weirdness to the epic tale of the wooden puppet and takes you on a journey that's not just rewarding, but also memorable.
The entire voice cast is brilliant, especially Ewan McGregor's The Talking Cricket and Christoph Waltz's villainous Volpe. Meanwhile, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Cate Blanchett, Ron Perlman, and Finn Wolfhard are brilliant as well.
It's not easy to make a stop-motion picture, but if it's done right it's one of the most spectacular things in the world. That's why 'Pinocchio' is so wonderful - everything is just perfect and as soon as you start watching, you are lost in Del Toro's weird yet amazing imagination. 'Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio' is undoubtedly a masterpiece that features gorgeous stop-motion animation, an extraordinary cast, and an emotional story. The movie releases on Netflix in December, but if it gets a release in cinemas around you, do not miss the opportunity. Because this rendition of 'Pinocchio' is an experience worthy of the big screen.
***** stars for this epic movie.