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‘Pinocchio’ lacking a touch of magic

It was supposed to be one of the special events of the year and it is easy to see why. The beloved tale of ‘Pinochio’ being brought to life by one of the most creative film directors that Hollywood has ever seen and starring one of the best actors in the industry, surely nothing could go wrong? Right?

By David Griffiths

Saturday 1 October 2022, 11:00AM

Image: IMDb

Image: IMDb

Sadly something did go wrong though and while Pinocchio is not the disaster that some have labelled it, it is one of those films that will frustrate you because it certainly isn’t as good as it could have been.

Many people will have grown up listening or watching this beloved tale but for those that didn’t the story is told through the eyes of an inquisitive cricket named Jiminy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Inception) who watches on in earnest as a lonely toy-maker, named Geppetto (Tom Hanks – Castaway) creates a young puppet boy whom he names Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth – The Sandman).

Through the magic of The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo – Widows) Pinocchio is brought to life as a wooden boy. Determined for him to grow up like a normal boy Geppetto allows him to go to school, but on his way to school he suddenly finds himself in a world where it seems like everybody wants to kidnap him – including the devious Honest John (Keegan-Michael Key – The Predator), the evil puppet-master Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston – Perfect Strangers) and the sinister Coachman (Luke Evans – Dracula Untold). 

It then becomes an epic adventure for Geppetto and his faithful goldfish, cat and an ever-helpful seagull to try and rescue Pinocchio before he meets his fate with those that either wish to exploit him or hurt him.

It was no secret that director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) wanted to make this film because of the fact that the original film was one of his favourites. It was because of that reason that most film lovers expected this film to be a certain kind of magic. But to be honest it feels like Zemeckis really didn’t do much more than bring this to life with real actors – and even that is a little bit of a stretch because characters such as Pinocchio, Jiminy and the animals are all still CGI.

There is some magic still in this film and to be honest the opening 20 minutes of the film do feel really special as you watch Geppetto and his crew work together but after that the film feels like a bit of a letdown. You keep waiting for that moment when the Zemeckis magic hits the screen but it never really comes and worse still it feels like Pinocchio’s adventures all happen far too quickly. This is one of those rare occasions where you will probably find yourself wishing that the film was actually longer or that Disney had decided to turn it into a series rather than a stand-alone film.

The strongest part of Pinocchio is actually the cast. Tom Hanks becomes the Geppetto that many people would have imagined in their minds when listening to the Disney audiobook as a child while those playing the villains seem to capture their roles to a tee. Keegan-Michael Key and Giuseppe Battiston seem to take their roles and just run with them and the result is some magnificent three-dimensional villains… a rarity in modern-day cinema.

Credit must also be paid to the young cast members as well. Kyanne Lamaya (The Dumping Ground) is a real standout as Fabiana – one of the very few people that actually try to help Pinocchio during his adventures. She puts in a beautiful performance and steals the spotlight in the scenes she is in. Lewin Lloyd (The Aeronauts) is also great as the mischievous Lampwick and he manages to bring just the right amount of humour and drama to his role.

Pinocchio is still an enjoyable film to watch. Kids may get more out of it as adults as most adults will compare it to the magical original film that is one of Disney’s finest. For the most part the adventures that Pinocchio experiences are over way too quickly and the Zemeckis magic seems to disappear after the first 20 minutes… this could have been so much better.

Pinocchio is available in Phuket on Disney+.

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at 

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