GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO (2022)
Release Date: 12/09/22 [Netflix / Cinemas]
"A father's wish magically brings a wooden boy to life in Italy, giving him a chance to care for the child."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Who doesn't love a good ol' fairy tale? Especially one directed by the fantastic Guillermo Del Toro. A new film from him is always welcome, especially anything in his mature fantasy style that he pulls off so well. This time, he brings us a retelling of the story of Pinocchio set in a backdrop of 1940s fascist Italy. Brought to life with gorgeous stop motion animation, Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio brings many ideas that the director himself is fondly familiar with - especially some main ideas from films such as Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone. However, despite the amazing animation and thought provoking themes, Pinocchio stumbles a fair bit with a script that tends to stall, and musical numbers that just sadly don't work even with the massive talent behind them.
We're given such a fascinating voice cast ensemble here. One particular standout is David Bradley's Geppetto who, under the loss of his son, carries the film with a certain weight of grief. You also have a fun vocal performance from Cate Blanchett's Spazzatura, and a whimsical Sebastian J. Cricket from Ewan McGregor. Though it must be noted that the central performance from Gregory Mann is just outstanding, understanding the weight of Del Toro's themes in this fascist backdrop and what exactly Pinocchio stands for in this type of environment.
The biggest praise here points towards the animation. Stop-motion animation is painstaking and here, Del Toro and Mark Gustafon make the whole process look effortless, and they produce possibly one of the best looking films to come out all year. The script also comes from Over The Garden Wall's Patrick McHale, and the overall work put into this whole thing, with particular animated sequences set up, shows an unabashed love for the medium. With the visuals here making this perhaps one of the best looking animated films of the 21st century.
McHale and Del Toro's script isn't perfect though. There's a lot of ideas that these two present that I love, but some sequences I felt fairly passive towards. In the film's midpoint, some particular themes and ideas feel a bit recycled and repetitive and it's around here that the film weirdly stalls and disconnects. Not to say anything at this point is bad, but it felt noticeable the film was hitting a few key notes a little too much.
Then we have the film's music which was fairly hit and miss for me. The film's score was composed by Alexandre Desplat, and while I usually find his music quite lovely here, there are a few musical numbers in this film that just don't work. However, thankfully outside of these, Desplat's work is nearly graceful and very emotional for this kind of film. It's almost instantly recognizable that it's him as well, and he continues to prove he's one of the more interesting composers working today.
Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio was very hit and miss for me. While I admired the animation and vocal performances, only a handful of the story really worked for me, and there are certain creative decisions that payout here that just don't work at all, and as a result, dampers some of the film's impact in its final moments. Though it isn't perfect, it's worth it for one of the best directors today delivering a gorgeous and emotional animation.