Beautiful stop-motion animation and story that leans into the darker side of the source material provides the winning mixture, making Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio the best adaptation of the familiar tale yet.
After the death of his son, Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) creates a wooden boy who is soon brought to life. In a year that already saw a Pinocchio adaptation crash and burn (Disney’s live-action attempt was downright miserable), Guillermo del Toro’s latest is a mesmerizing dive into the world. Mark Gustafson’s stop-motion animation is unreal, visually attractive in every scene with the fine details of the characters and the setting bursting from the screen. Simply watching the characters speak, aided by a very talented voice cast that includes Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton, is enough to whisk the view away into the world created.
The original story of Pinocchio, first published in 1883, is a tragic one that explores our capacity for love and what it means to be human. Embracing the darker aspects of the tale allows for a more mature version, one that sets itself apart from the Disneyfied fairy tale we’ve come to associate with the title. While there are moments where the story falls into a sluggish pace, the animation keeps you hooked, the muted color palette complimenting the somber tone. I could have done without the cricket, however, a character that feels a little bit shelved in del Toro’s version, but any chance to hear McGregor is a welcomed one. In all, I quite enjoyed this reimagining, but I am totally Pinocchioed out for the foreseeable future.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is now playing in select theaters and hits Netflix tomorrow.