‘Pinocchio’ Criticizes Live-Action Film’s Lack of Heart

With the live-action remake of by Disney Pinocchio makes its streaming debut, reviews are pouring in and it’s not pretty. Despite the presence of the powerful team of directors Robert Zemeckis and star tom hank, this latest addition to Disney’s ever-expanding library of remakes is failing critics. According to critics, Pinocchio fails to recapture the artistry and soul of the animated classic, which is ironic for a film whose central story is about wanting to give a heart to a lifeless object.

You can see what the critics are saying below, and maybe pay one for Hanks, who was already dragged earlier this summer for his bizarre performance in Elvis. Dude is having a tough year.

Andre Barker, Variety:

As with so many of the director’s previous CGI extravaganzas, all the meticulous surface detail in the world can’t make up for the central void of the film’s digital creations. The naïveté of Pinocchio, the avuncular misfortune of Jiminy Cricket, even the malice of the cat Figaro, have all lost a noticeable degree of humanity and soul in the transition from ink to pixels. There may not be strings on this Pinocchio, but there isn’t much heart in him either.

Christian Zilko, IndieWire:

Casting Hanks as Geppetto is one of those creative decisions that makes perfect sense on paper, but his performance is just another addition to his recent chill streak. The actor gives what is essentially a kid-friendly version of his “Elvis” performance, playing a puppeteer with an unconvincing European accent. It’s not good, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also hard to blame Hanks when he’s been given so little work.

Tara Bennet, IGN:

Creatively, it clearly struggles to adhere too closely to the superior 1940 version while awkwardly trying to force the old-school story to dive into a modern, jarring voice that’s incongruous with the way it firmly embraces a 19th century setting and aesthetics. The result is a bland, schizophrenic watch that looks like a big-budget movie made just for ages 6-12.

Luke Y.Thompson, The audiovisual club:

Disney’s live-action remakes are best considered the equivalent of Broadway musical versions: they throw in a few new songs, throw in contemporary jokes, and throw a ton of money at special effects. Expecting the same kind of timelessness a second time is an exercise in futility: the national fair may have a talented cover band on the books, but we listen to the original artist in our car or at home.

Josh Spiegel, Polygon:

Zemeckis has more than enough experience mixing live action and digital technology with past films such as The Polar Express and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But the new Pinocchio lacks soul, no matter how hard Zemeckis and his co-writer, Chris Weitz, try to make it exist through leaden dialogue where the characters talk about what really makes someone real.

Ross Bonaime, Collider:

No matter how good these live-action remakes are, few would say they match the beauty, power, or overwhelming magic of the original films. With Disney finally bringing Pinocchio in live action, the gap between the quality of the original and the live version has rarely been so huge.

Adrian Horton, The Guardian:

Often, it’s hard to know what to blame when Disney’s live-action remakes fizzle. Does animation allow for a suspension of belief that human actors cannot sustain? A problem with the source material? An air of business strategy to the whole? In Pinocchio’s case, it’s a combination of all three.

Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com:

Like the titular puppet at its center, “Pinocchio” lingers in existential purgatory. The latest live-action remake of an animated Disney classic occupies an uncomfortable creative middle ground between staying true to its beloved roots while aiming to be fresh for modern audiences. Familiar lines share space with sarcastic one-liners. He’s not just a block of wood, but he’s not a real boy either.

Pinocchio is available to stream exclusively on Disney+.

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