Disney’s Live Action Pinocchio and D23

In the past years, we have seen Disney revive some of its cult classic animations into live-action films. One of the first transformations was Disney’s Cinderella in 2015. After some mild success, the trend continued with Beauty and the Beast (2017), The Lion King (2019), and Mulan (2020). After debuting these films were met with subpar reviews. A prime example is Mulan (2020) which intrigued many as per its announcement. People expected to see the strong warrior that so many little girls looked up to and aspired to be when they grew up. In the end, many felt that the original storyline was thrown out the window and disregarded. For example, many of the fan-favorite characters and tunes were taken out. In particular, it was a massive letdown when Mushu, Mulan’s beloved sidekick, was cut from the movie in all. With the common theme of negative feedback in Disney’s live-action remakes, people are hesitant to watch the new live-action Pinocchio. The question is; Will this remake be the diamond in the rough for Disney? Or is this just another cash grab by the mouse yet again?

If I’m being completely honest in my review, I would have to say this movie was a complete letdown. From the animation and writing the story felt all over the place. In the original Pinocchio, the film opens with the Oscar-winning song “When You Wish Upon A Star,” but in this film, they decided to change this with a new song entitled “When He Was Here With Me” sung by Tom Hanks who plays Geppetto. This song is a classic that is played all over the world. So not having this song in the film made the movie feel a bit empty. The first sequence in the shop is paced so slowly that it almost feels like they are playing some kind of prank. Throughout the whole film, you could see that the filmmakers almost feared the original theme of the book written by Carlo Collodi. In Collodi’s original version of Pinocchio, we see the puppet as violent, so the 1940 cartoon had to soften the tyke’s sins. Now it feels like the puppet has been stripped from all his personality. Pinocchio is too nice throughout the film and it seems like the writers disregarded many themes of the original film. They were trying to show how peer pressure can affect children, but the message fell flat with the audience. In place of this, we see many strange subplots that don’t line up with the story. At one point, we see Pinocchio learn about taxes and even horse dung. These points add nothing to the plot and feel like a last-minute attempt to fill plot holes. Another major issue with this film was the CGI and animation. Throughout the film, it felt like all the scenes were almost unrealistic and not true live-action. We see this in some of the boats on Pleasure Island which rippled throughout the sea making the scene feel fake and uneasy. There was no pop of Disney magic in this film. Beloved scenes in the movie such as the song, “I’ve Got No Strings,” fell flat and had no comparison to the original. But on the contrary, many people did enjoy seeing the award-winning Tom Hanks take on the character of Geppetto. Tom Hanks is an actor that many people can spot in any role he plays. Hence, having a big-name actor in this film is sure to draw viewers in to watch. Disney is trying hard to recreate their classics in live-action with “incredible” special effects but falls short every time. Pinocchio plays a pivotal role in Disney’s D23 project, due to its debut on Disney+ Day which highlighted all the shows and movies that are going to be released on the streaming service. D23 is a convention that Disney hosts every few years to show the public their upcoming plans for the company such as new rides for their parks and new movies and TV shows that will air on their streaming platform. Many avid Disney fans waited weeks for this day to arrive to review the upcoming projects. Therefore, when fans heard about the new Pinocchio film they were ecstatic. However, just like many other live-action remakes, it fell short. One Fenwick student who has watched this film is Colin Crotty ‘23. In his reaction to the movie he says, “I felt that the movie lacked much of the excitement that the original had.” This film felt like a last resort and had no real meaning whatsoever. I think it’s safe to say that Disney may need to rethink their plans and try to bring back the magic from its classics and put that into its new live-action films in the future.