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Decades before his name became instantly associated with macabre wonder, Guillermo del Toro conjured up accomplished special effects makeup for Mexican productions. Now, with an esteemed body of work as a director, it's still the tangible handcraft that distinguishes his monstrous brainchildren from those conceived solely as digital confections. 

Del Toro 's creatures exist as entities in this plane of reality—often in the body of Doug Jones as in " Pan's Labyrinth " and " The Shape of Water ." They take up space, react to light, have complex textures, and interact with actors in human roles. But as sophisticated as their configuration seems, they obey cinema's longstanding tradition of engendering fanciful worlds in front of the camera with practical ingenuity. 

Del Toro's lifelong commitment to turning the figments of his imagination into physical realities makes his decision to opt for stop-motion for his first animated feature an obvious and perfectly suitable one. Glorious in its tactile fabrication, his "Pinocchio" epitomizes the melding of tale and technique into a cohesive philosophical unit. For a story about imperfect fathers and sons, this method capitalizes on the irreplicable quality of the human touch one frame at a time. 

Decidedly more mature in tone than previous animated iterations of Carlo Collodi's 19th-century fable, though no less stirring or disarming, this version penned by del Toro and co-screenwriter Patrick McHale (creator of the miniseries "Over the Garden Wall") transports the characters first just a few years into the future to the early 1900s, as the Great War ravages Europe. The peaceful countryside is home to chipper woodworker Geppetto ( David Bradley ), to the townspeople, "a model Italian citizen," and to his 10-year-old son Carlo ( Gregory Mann ), an obedient boy who fulfills all of his father's expectations. 

But like a cruel stunt from the heavens, a bomb, not unlike the one that falls on the orphanage in " The Devil's Backbone ," takes Carlo from Geppetto, destroying his once idyllic outlook. A fabulously cast Ewan McGregor voices Sebastian J. Cricket, a pompous insect initially only interested in recounting his feats, who narrates the tragedy. Grief-stricken still years later, with Mussolini now in power, Geppetto carves a puppet from the pine tree near Carlo's tombstone in a drunken stupor that plays out with the uncanniness of a "Frankenstein" movie. 

Pinocchio (also Mann) gains consciousness by the hand of the Wood Sprite (the always alluring Tilda Swinton ), a new take on the Blue Fairy that resembles an angel as described in the Old Testament—think Angel of Death in " Hellboy II: The Golden Army ." This winged figure, and the beguiling chimera that represents Death later in the story (also Swinton), illustrate del Toro's interest in the otherworldly forces that affect mortals' paths on earth, as well as a singular vision of the afterlife, just not those prescribed by modern Christianity. 

"In this world, you get what you give," the fantastical do-gooder tells Sebastian, tasking him with Pinocchio's moral guidance in exchange for a wish. The cricket replies, "I try my best, and that's the best anyone can do." Del Toro and McHale feature multiple pithy refrains like these, which avoid repeating fairytale platitudes based on impossible rectitude. Instead, they advocate for the wisdom found in forgiving oneself for the mistakes of the past because it's in between failures and triumphs that our lives are written. Precisely how the illusion of stop-motion animation occurs in between the frames that remind us of what we are witnessing is painstakingly executed cinematic puppetry. 

Unlike the face replacement technology that some studios such as Laika employ to achieve nuance in the performances of the stop-motion puppets, del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson , who honed his skills with Claymation master Will Vinton, utilized figures with mechanical visages that require delicate manipulation from the animators for a slightly less immaculate result in movement, but one that makes the hand of the artists known. 

One can't help but marvel at the superb craftsmanship in every detail of the characters that inhabit this darkly whimsical realm. Every hair strand on Geppetto's head, the wrinkles in his weathered artisan hands, or the material of his garments are individual, minuscule strokes of genius. The design of Pinocchio himself feels elemental, with the organic blemishes of real wood, without clothing, and sporting a mischievously adorable face and an explosive hairstyle. This might be the most truthful on-screen depiction of the character ever. In the breathtaking dedication of those in charge of the production design, the costumes, and the constructions of the sets, large and miniature, the film finds its soul.

Yet as innocent as Pinocchio is—early on, he sings about every object he encounters as an incredible discovery—there's an abrasive side to his personality that resonates honestly with the less flattering aspects of children's behavior. Not only is Geppetto not immediately accepting of his new offspring, given that the Catholic churchgoers believe it to be sorcery, but he hopes to mold him into who Carlo was.  

But Pinocchio, born without the inhabitations of the human condition, only conforms to the norms to gain his father's validation. Del Toro is nothing if not a gentle champion of the misunderstood to those whose appearance, origin, or worldview isolate them from the homogeneity of the masses. And in this wooden boy, he finds a walking and talking symbol for the indomitable power of nature, of chance, of the unpredictable factors that can enrich our days even if they weren't precisely what we had hoped for. 

Fascism, a dangerous ideology that demands submission while it derides uniqueness, is explored via personal relationships. In failing to accept their sons for who they are and not who they wish them to be, all the fathers in "Pinocchio" partake in its perverse dynamic of control: Podesta ( Ron Perlman ), a government official raising his kid, Candlewick ( Finn Wolfhard ), with strict discipline; the villainous puppeteer Count Volpe ( Christoph Waltz ) and his mistreatment of his baboon sidekick Spazzatura ( Cate Blanchett ); and even a cleverly ridiculed Mussolini ( Tom Kenny ), as a father figure for an entire nation. 

Organized religion seeks similar servitude, holding one's missteps against us as a reminder of our unworthiness and why we should listen to the teachings of its ancient practice. A wooden Jesus on the cross, the image of a faultless god, looks down on its sinful flock. 

Its critique of Catholicism notwithstanding, del Toro and Gustafson's "Pinocchio" remains a striking spiritual experience. Its emphasis on the material, in what we can see and feel, in the here and now—defects all—speaks to the notion that our brief time alive isn't measured in faultless accomplishments but also in the precious glimpses of the divine we carve from the rubble left behind by personal and collective catastrophes. Despite the sorrow that comes with our flesh-and-blood constraints, we replenish our will to go on. 

At some point, the expertly plotted narrative veers its sights to teach Pinocchio, who is unable to die for a while, a lesson on why mortality is both a curse and a gift. That Carlo and Pinocchio are both voiced by Mann, while Swinton enlivens both the Wood Sprite and Death, denotes a marked duality at play about what was but no longer is and what wasn't but now exists. Two sides of the same coin remind us that loving is a burden worth carrying, life is an ordeal worth dying for, and that in the crevices of all which we consider that make us misfits, we can find pockets of happiness with others like us. 

With the screenplay's unassumingly poetic final line, Sebastian casts a lovingly life-affirming spell, a phrase that applies to the entirety of the piece, noting that even the artists behind this production will someday also die; only their stories will endure. 

A wondrously affecting work, "Pinocchio" becomes a magnum opus for del Toro that channels his interests and beliefs long present in his oeuvre but spun with a luminous new gravitas. It may go against its ethos to deem del Toro's "Pinocchio" an impeccable masterpiece, even if that's an adequate description, but know that if the art of making movies resembles magic, this is one of its greatest incantations. 

In limited release now and available on Netflix on Friday, December 9th.

Carlos Aguilar

Carlos Aguilar

Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by RogerEbert.com, the Sundance Institute and Indiewire in 2014. 

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Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio movie poster

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (2022)

Rated PG for dark thematic material, violence, peril, some rude humor and brief smoking.

117 minutes

Ewan McGregor as Sebastian J. Cricket (voice)

David Bradley as Gepetto (voice)

Gregory Mann as Pinocchio (voice)

Christoph Waltz as Count Volpe (voice)

Tilda Swinton as Wood Sprite / Death (voice)

Ron Perlman as The Podestà (voice)

Finn Wolfhard as Candlewick (voice)

Cate Blanchett as Spazzatura the Monkey (voice)

Tim Blake Nelson as The Black Rabbits (voice)

John Turturro as Il Dottore (voice)

Burn Gorman as Priest (voice)

Tom Kenny as Mussolini / Right Hand Man / Sea Captain (voice)

Alfie Tempest as Carlo (voice)

  • Guillermo Del Toro
  • Mark Gustafson

Writer (novel)

  • Carlo Collodi
  • Patrick McHale

Cinematographer

  • Frank Passingham
  • Ken Schretzmann
  • Holly Klein
  • Alexandre Desplat

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‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Review: Puppets and Power

This quirky classic has been made all the stranger by the decision to turn it into an ill-conceived metaphor about fascism.

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In a scene from the animated film “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” the wooden puppet speaks to a count with a preposterously long nose and fur-collared coat, holding a quill and a document.

By Manohla Dargis

“Shoot the puppet!”

By the time a Fascist hard-liner barks this death threat in “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” a stop-motion animated version of the children’s classic, you might be wondering if its impish little marionette is going to escape in one piece. At that point, Pinocchio has been threatened by scoundrels, run over by a car, lost body parts to fire and targeted by none other than Benito Mussolini. “These puppets, I do not like,” Il Duce says in a cartoonish accent right before ordering a henchman to take out Pinocchio. It’s a scary world, after all.

Written by Carlo Lorenzini under the pen name Carlo Collodi, “The Adventures of Pinocchio” was published in serial form beginning in 1881 and turned into a children’s book two years later. Surreal and violent, it opens with an enchanted piece of wood that ends up in the hands of a poor woodcutter, Geppetto. He intends to make a marionette so that he can “earn a piece of bread and a glass of wine.” Instead, he creates Pinocchio, a disobedient puppet who yearns to be a boy, runs away and is jailed, almost hanged and, after being transformed into a donkey, nearly skinned. He also kills a talking cricket with a hammer.

The movies seem to be going through a curious mini-Pinocchio revival: a live-action version of the story from the Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone (with Roberto Benigni as Geppetto) opened in 2020; and Robert Zemeckis’s reimagining of the tale, which combines live action and animation (with Tom Hanks playing Geppetto ), arrived in September. Certainly it’s easy to see why del Toro, a contemporary fabulist given to baroque and lovingly rendered nightmarish visions, was attracted to Collodi’s novel. It’s an odd and quirky fantasy — and far grimmer and more unsettling than Disney’s sublimely animated 1940 film suggests.

As weird as the story is, it’s been made all the stranger by the decision to turn it into a metaphor about fascism, a conceit that is as politically incoherent as it is unfortunately timed. (Del Toro directed it with Mark Gustafson and shares script credit with Patrick McHale.) The movie was, of course, finished before this year’s Italian general election , which brought to power a party whose roots trace back to the ruins of Italian Fascism. Even so, the real world casts a creepy shadow over the movie, which never explains the horrors of that period and instead largely uses Fascism’s murderous ideology as ornamentation.

The movie opens in the midst of World War I shortly before a plane — it’s unclear from which country — drops a bomb on Geppetto’s young (human) son, Carlo (voiced by Gregory Mann, who also plays Pinocchio). Fast forward to the 1930s, and Geppetto is still in mourning when he carves Pinocchio, who magically comes to life. Before long, the puppet is up to his familiar mischief, making his acquaintance with a loquacious, charm-free cricket (Ewan McGregor) and meeting the locals, some of whom — including a priest and a rampaging Mussolini toady — raise their arms in Fascist salute. They’re all puppets, get it?

The movie’s visuals, including its character design, were inspired by the lightly phantasmal, jauntily sinister illustrations that the artist Gris Grimly created for a 2003 edition of the Collodi book. Instead of the soft, rounded limbs and inviting, humanoid face of Disney’s Pinocchio, the character here is unequivocally wooden, with arms and legs that evoke pickup sticks and a pointy nose and spherical head that look like a carrot stuck in a pumpkin. The meticulous animation has stop-motion’s characteristic haptic quality, so much so you can almost feel the character’s rough and smooth surfaces, the burl of his form as well as the grain.

In its ominous tone, its dangerous close calls and multiple deaths, this interpretation of “Pinocchio” cleaves closer to Collodi’s original tale than Disney’s does, although like that earlier film, it tends to tip the scales toward sentimentality, particularly in its conception of Geppetto. (It also adds some tuneless songs, a mistake.) Pinocchio is still an agent of chaos who, by not behaving like a good child ostensibly should, brings grief and even danger to himself and to Geppetto. Yet, in the end, nothing makes Pinocchio more wholly, recognizably human than his disobedience and repeated mistakes, something this movie grasps.

Pinocchio is caught between the inhuman and the human for most of his episodic adventures, which is crucial to his singular mix of charm and menace. That helps explain the durable appeal of Collodi’s story, and it also makes del Toro and company’s decision to set the tale in Fascist Italy all the more baffling and disappointing. It’s evident that the filmmakers wanted to create a different, tougher and putatively more serious Pinocchio than the Disney version that has been lodged in the popular imagination for decades. But the movie’s decontextualized and disturbingly ill-considered use of Fascism is reductive and finally grotesque.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Rated PG for death, child peril and fascism. Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

Manohla Dargis has been the co-chief film critic of The Times since 2004. She started writing about movies professionally in 1987 while earning her M.A. in cinema studies at New York University, and her work has been anthologized in several books. More about Manohla Dargis

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Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) and Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann).

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio review – a superbly strange stop-motion animation

The director of the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water has turned the timeless fable into a magical Mussolini-era parable

D eath and fascism may not seem ideal subjects for a life-affirming fantasy animation for grownup children of all ages. Yet Mexican maestro Guillermo del Toro, whose 2017 masterpiece The Shape of Water won the Oscar for best picture, brings his monstrous cinematic skills to bear on Carlo Collodi’s timeless fable with miraculous results, turning it into a Mussolini-era parable about a “lethal form of control and paternity”. Using the tactility of stop-motion animation to lend splintery weight (both physical and emotional) to the story, Del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson, whose credits include Fantastic Mr Fox (2009), conjure a tale of war and childhood that nods its wooden head towards Mary Shelley while thematically sitting alongside Del Toro’s Spanish-language masterpieces The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).

Along with co-writer Patrick McHale (Matthew Robbins gets a “screen story” credit), Del Toro resituates Collodi’s source in the between-the-war years of the 20th century. Carpenter Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) has lost his beloved son, Carlo, in the Great War. One night, drunk on grief, he cuts down the tree by Carlo’s grave and builds a ramshackle puppet ( Gris Grimly ’s illustrations provide structural inspiration) to replace his lost child. When a blue spirit breathes life into the puppet, Geppetto is initially terrified of the whirling dervish unleashed in his home. But the pair soon settle down, with Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) helping Geppetto repair the huge crucified Christ that hangs like a tortured marionette in the church where congregants shriek about demonic puppets. “Everybody likes him ,” says Pinocchio, pointing up at what looks like a prop from Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) . “He’s made of wood too. Why do they like him and not me ?”

This is just one of many profoundly philosophical questions (another is: “How can Mussolini’s fascists use an unkillable wooden soldier as a weapon?”) that Del Toro’s Pinocchio is not afraid to raise. While previous film adaptations, from Disney’s still strange 1940 cartoon to Robert Zemeckis’s ghastly 2022 live-action reboot , have prioritised a populist litany of instructional morals (honour your father, do not tell lies, do not be lazy), Del Toro’s version celebrates its antihero’s agent-of-chaos nature, using his adventures to investigate matters of life and death with equal vigour.

Yes, Pinocchio is bequeathed a conscience in the form of a talking cricket, a character who (let us not forget) Pinocchio killed with a hammer early on in Collodi’s original. But Ewan McGregor’s narrator Sebastian J Cricket is no pious stooge; nor is the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair (whom Collodi also declares dead) a beneficent bestower of “real boy” human status. Instead, she is a multi-eyed Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) with one foot in the grave, whose underworld alter ego tells Pinocchio that the only path to life is (guess what?) death – the very thing that gives life value.

While it’s tempting to compare this version of Pinocchio with Matteo Garrone’s 2019 labour of love , there’s a closer bond with Steven Spielberg’s still underrated 2001 sci-fi fantasy A I : Artificial Intelligence . Like Spielberg, Del Toro is fascinated by the Frankenstein elements of a story in which monsters are not what they seem, and the attainment of “humanity” is portrayed as a flawed venture that must be solved through narrative poetry rather than physical transformation. Both directors also embrace the surreal visual spectacle of a story that sends its characters into the belly of the beast via grotesquely gaping jaws, with Del Toro also cheekily tipping his hat towards Spielberg’s most explosive creature feature.

While puppets creative supervisor Georgina Hayns looked to the “realism with an abstract brush stroke” of Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth, cinematographer Frank Passingham, whose credits include Aardman’s Chicken Run (2000) and Laika studio’s 2016 feature Kubo and the Two Strings , directed his crew to The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974) for lighting references. With a vulpine Christoph Waltz and a freaky-monkey Cate Blanchett joining Ron Perlman, John Turturro and Finn Wolfhard in the voice cast, and Alexandre Desplat on composer duties (Del Toro co-wrote song lyrics for earworm heartbreakers such as the Oscar-tipped Ciao Papa), this is starry fare indeed. Yet ultimately, it’s the film’s sheer strangeness – that peculiarly magical, lapsed-Catholic sensibility that runs throughout all of Del Toro’s most personal works – that makes this sing and fly.

In cinemas now and on Netflix from 9 December

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‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ Review: The Fantasy Master’s Distinctive Stop-Motion Take on the Old Story Carves Out Its Own Way

After Disney's dismal remake earlier this year, there may be little collective appetite for another Pinocchio film, but del Toro's version, set in Fascist Italy, is eccentric and imaginative enough to make us hungry again.

By Guy Lodge

Film Critic

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Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

There’s a reason why Collodi’s story keeps getting recycled, of course: It’s a great and unusual one, a moral-bearing Tuscan folk tale that transcends the tradition of its form with delirious surrealism and a perverse streak of wit. So delirious and so perverse, in fact, that it’s rarely been very faithfully adapted, with Disney’s gentler 1940 interpretation — most notable for giving the original tale’s reckless, selfish title character a far more likable makeover — becoming canonical in many children’s imaginations. 

The film’s stranger, thornier vision begins with the image of Pinocchio himself, here a far cry from Disney’s cutely dressed, bubble-featured boy. Taking their cue from the illustrations of American artist Gris Grimly (given a co-producing credit) for a 2002 edition of Collodi’s book, del Toro and Gustafson redesign him as a literal stick figure, gnarled and spindly and held together with snaggly nails, with a nose that grows not as a neat rod but in antler-like, leaf-covered branches. If he looks rustic and unfinished, that’s because he is: fashioned by his human woodcarver “father” Geppetto (beautifully voiced by David Bradley) in a drunken fit of grief for his late, cherubic son Carlo (Gregory Mann, gamely doing double duty as Pinocchio too).

Outlined at the outset of the film, this teary new backstory also permits del Toro an early introduction for two of the film’s other fixations: morbid Christian symbolism and the horrors of war. “Everyone likes him, why not me?” asks naively mischievous Pinocchio, gesturing at the gigantic wooden crucifix that Geppetto is repairing for the village church — one damaged in the same First World War bombing that killed Carlo. Two decades later, in an Italy under Il Duce’s fascist thumb, the timber tyke is shunned as a demonic outsider by the community; the village’s authoritarian Podestà (Ron Perlman), however, thinks the “dissident” puppet could prove his worth in the military, serving alongside his terrorized son Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard). 

The conservatively macho conceptual leap from “real boy” to “real man” is one of the cleverest layers in del Toro and “Adventure Time” writer Patrick McHale’s busy screenplay, though there’s hardly time to ponder such nuances and subtexts as the story, true to its episodic source, barrels along. The Podestà isn’t the only one after Pinocchio, after all, as travelling circus master Count Volpe (a hissing Christoph Waltz) sees a whole lotta lira in the uncanny living puppet. Meanwhile, our hero’s repeated scrapes keep landing him in a purgatorial netherworld, where a slinky electric-blue incarnation of Death — sister of his life-giving guardian sprite — determines his fate over and over; Tilda Swinton eerily voices both entities, as if you’d choose anyone else to do so. 

Aesthetically and narratively, then, this is a “Pinocchio” that credits its young audience with eminently grownup taste and intelligence — so much so that its occasional lurches into more old-school animated musical territory (with a handful of immediately unmemorable songs punctuating Alexandre Desplat’s otherwise lush, puckishly orchestrated score) feel rather half-hearted.

Only rarely, however, does “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” feel compromised in this fashion. Unfolding over a faintly indulgent but never dull two hours, this is a rare children’s entertainment that isn’t afraid to perplex kids as much as it enchants them, down to a coda that prompts a certain level of junior existential contemplation (not to mention a mournful tear or two) at the notion of a dead insect in a matchbox coffin in a boy’s wooden — but very real — heart. It’s a vivid, lavish stroke of weirdness, better seen than described. “Pinocchio” always has been.

Reviewed at London Film Festival, Oct. 15, 2022. Running time: 117 MIN.

  • Production: (Animated) A Netflix presentation of a Double Dare You!, ShadowMachine production in association with the Jim Henson Company. Producers: Guillermo del Toro, Lisa Henson, Gary Ungar, Alex Bulkley, Corey Campodonico. Co-producers: Melanie Coombs, Gris Grimly, Blanca Lista.
  • Crew: Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson. Screenplay: Del Toro, Patrick McHale, from a screen story by del Toro, Matthew Robbins, based on the book 'Pinocchio' by Carlo Collodi. Camera: Frank Passingham. Editor: Ken Schretzmann, Holly Klein. Music: Alexandre Desplat.
  • With: Ewan McGregor, Gregory Mann, David Bradley, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Finn Wolfhard, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman, Tim Blake Nelson.

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A CG version of the wooden puppet-boy Pinocchio kneels on a stage with his arms stretched wide in Disney’s 2022 live-action remake of its 1940 animated classic

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Though some of Disney’s big-budget live-action remakes of its hand-drawn animated classics have performed well financially, they’ve almost uniformly struggled creatively. David Lowery is the only director who’s cracked the code: His tender 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon makes an old film feel fresh and new by telling a story that actually is fresh and new. Unfortunately, remakes of Aladdin , The Lion King , Beauty and the Beast , and others had less room to stretch. If people pay to see a remake of a beloved Disney favorite, they expect to see the greatest hits on repeat, from the songs to the signature moments. So audiences can only expect so much new material. And it often comes in small interstitial moments, like the bit in the 2019 Lion King where the adult Simba kicks up a tuft of leaves that float through the breeze and eventually land in front of the wizened old mandrill Rafiki — after a pit stop in a ball of giraffe dung.

Regretfully and inexplicably, animal excrement also prominently features in Disney’s latest bit of self-cannibalization, Robert Zemeckis’ remake of the 1940 classic Pinocchio . Like the animated version, the straight-to-Disney Plus live-action remake tells the story of a wooden marionette (a CG creation voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) brought to life by a magical Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), who sends him on a journey to become fully human by exemplifying the traits of bravery, truthfulness, and selflessness.

As in the original movie (and the Carlo Collodi children’s book it adapts), Pinocchio encounters anthropomorphized animals like Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Honest John the fox (Keegan-Michael Key). There’s a cruel, mustachioed impresario named Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston), the hallucinatory Pleasure Island theme park, and other recognizable elements from the classic. Zemeckis has more than enough experience in blending live actors 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 will it into being through leaden dialogue where characters talk about what truly makes someone real.

A weirdly dead-eyed CG Pinocchio stares at Jiminy Cricket from a cage in Disney’s live-action remake of 1940’s animated classic Pinocchio

Nü- Pinocchio gets off to a shaky start by skipping past “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which may be the most quintessential Disney song of all time. Where Jiminy Cricket performs it as a quiet, telling moment in the original film, the 2022 Pinocchio truncates it and gives the shorter version to the Blue Fairy. Erivo has a genuinely phenomenal voice, as evidenced in her Tony-winning role in the Broadway version of The Color Purple . Her rendition of the abbreviated classic is lovely. But handing the song to her makes Jiminy a less interesting character, far less present and passionate — which is a problem, since he’s meant to illustrate humanity to Pinocchio, even though neither of them are human.

The changes mount up. Unlike in the animated film, Geppetto (Tom Hanks, whose questionable Italian accent does not deserve a future in memes à la his Elvis performance ) offers a clunky explanation of the reasons a kindly old woodcarver like him would create a boyish marionette. He also explains why he refuses to sell off his dead wife’s treasured cuckoo clocks — which feature characters like Rafiki and Simba, Roger Rabbit, and Sheriff Woody, which may go down as one of the most painful bits of corporate synergy in film history.

These are answers to questions best left unasked — many of the small touches in the original Pinocchio are haunting because they defy explanation. By studiously spelling out each emotion, Zemeckis and Weitz remove any potential for enigmatic complexity. And while the computer technology bringing Pinocchio to life is nowhere near as creepy as anything in Zemeckis’ Polar Express , that’s mitigated by how obviously fake he is anytime there’s a shot with a human actor “touching” or “holding” the little wooden boy.

Cynthia Erivo, glowing in a blue dress made of light, as the Blue Fairy in Disney’s live-action remake of 1940’s animated classic Pinocchio

The story’s outline will still be extremely recognizable to anyone with a passing familiarity with the animated film or Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio . Because this is a modern film, though, apparently someone felt the film needed to scoff a bit at its own flights of fancy. When Pinocchio, stuck in a cage by the evil Stromboli, begins to tell a lie and his wooden nose grows, Jiminy says, “A bit on the nose, I’d say.” When Pinocchio rattles off his various adventures late in the film, a bemused character asks, “You did all that in one day ?” Simultaneously copycatting a classic and smugly mocking it comes across as crass, as if Zemeckis and company are afraid of real emotion, and determined to safeguard audiences against any sense of authenticity or sincerity.

This Pinocchio isn’t quite a shot-for-shot remake of the 1940 film, though its scant few additions are so baffling in part because they feel so insubstantial. Songs such as “Give a Little Whistle” and “Little Wooden Head” have been jettisoned in favor of four lifeless new songs by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. Each one stops the story’s pacing in its tracks. Hanks is tasked with two new numbers in the early going, where he speak-sings his way through painful lyrics that rhyme “Pinocchio” with “Holy smokey-o.”

The way Pinocchio is ensnared by the Coachman (Luke Evans, doing his best impression of Disney’s animated Captain Hook) and needled by other kids into going to Pleasure Island hints at one of this remake’s most unavoidable problems: Zemeckis and company don’t want it to be as complex as its forebear. Though the 1940 version of Pinocchio isn’t as aggressive and rowdy as his fellow boys on Pleasure Island, he’s perfectly willing to dive into bad behavior, aping his cigar-smoking pal Lampwick.

But his naive, childish selfishness only makes his eventual heroism that much more redemptive. In Zemeckis’ version, Pinocchio is initially led astray by some uncouth characters, but he’s essentially a good little boy from start to finish, whereas many of the other characters — especially some new human characters, like a loutish headmaster and a kindly performer in Stromboli’s traveling show, who both throw around the term “real” like a buzzword — are as hollow as the wood that comprises the title character.

Luke Evans as the Coachman sits in the driver’s seat of his coach next to a curious CG Pinocchio in Disney’s live-action remake of its 1940 animated classic

Pinocchio isn’t the first Disney remake to be shunted straight to Disney Plus. ( Mulan debuted on the service’s premium tier.) Nor is it the first Robert Zemeckis film to skip theaters for streaming. (Coincidentally, his The Witches remake for HBO Max is the only other serious contender against Pinocchio for his worst film.) When Disney Plus first kicked off in 2019, one of its opening-day original films was the Lady and the Tramp remake , which is predictable, lifeless, and entirely unmemorable.

The 2022 Pinocchio does have its unforgettable moments, but they stand out for all the wrong reasons. It will be difficult to forget the image of Pinocchio staring at a pile of horse manure and touching it out of curiosity. It’s a gross image in a film that otherwise doesn’t add in scatalogical humor, a gag that isn’t in the original and has no purpose in the remake, and a weirdly unnecessary cost in a film that struggles to merge CG and live-action elements. But maybe all that tracks. Pinocchio ’22 is a top-to-bottom embarrassment with no good reason to exist, so it might as well feature images with an equal lack of creative logic.

Pinocchio debuts on Disney Plus on Sept. 8.

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Pinocchio (2022), common sense media reviewers.

pinocchio new film review

Frequent peril in live-action/CGI version of classic tale.

Pinocchio Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Parents must let their kids learn independence but

Pinocchio must learn self-control to turn down tem

Set in Italy, but actors are mostly American and B

As per the original story, Pinocchio gets into man

A male insect accidentally puts his hand on the bo

"Jackass," "H-E-double hockey sticks," "bollocks,"

References to other films, including other Disney

A character in a cuckoo clock drinks a bottle of l

Parents need to know that this live-action/CGI adaptation of Pinocchio is a bit more intense than the animated classic (which itself has some fairly dark moments). Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is kidnapped, imprisoned, nearly turned into a donkey, and swallowed by a sea monster. One beloved character…

Positive Messages

Parents must let their kids learn independence but also be willing to set aside fears and make sacrifices for them. Humans desire company. Having a conscience means following an internal voice for making decisions and knowing the difference between right and wrong. We can't always do what we want when we want. Jobs can restore pride. Wishes can come true. Greed doesn't pay.

Positive Role Models

Pinocchio must learn self-control to turn down temptations and prove himself brave, truthful, and unselfish. Geppetto is willing to sacrifice everything for the good of his son. Jiminy Cricket takes his job serving as Pinocchio's conscience very seriously. Sofia and Sabina look out for their friends. Some other characters seek profit or pleasure without concern for the consequences. Kids consume large quantities of root beer and candy on Pleasure Island.

Diverse Representations

Set in Italy, but actors are mostly American and British. All speak English. Two main characters are Black women.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

As per the original story, Pinocchio gets into many perilous, life-threatening scenarios on his first day of life. He's kidnapped, imprisoned, nearly turned into a donkey, and swallowed by a sea monster. A beloved character appears to die in one scene. Characters are tossed around, threatened, hit over the head, captured and locked up, set on fire, teased, and enslaved. Villains Stromboli and the Coachman could be scary for young viewers, as could the bad behavior and creepy clown logo of Pleasure Land.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

A male insect accidentally puts his hand on the bottom of a female statue and then apologizes. Male and female puppets appear to feel attracted to each other. Girls sing that "real girls like real boys."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

"Jackass," "H-E-double hockey sticks," "bollocks," "blimey," "crock," "jeepers," "holy moly," "holy smoke," "two-bit," and taunts like "stupid," "rascal," "twerp," "loser," "idiot," "jerk," "brat," "scum," "party pooper," "goody two-shoes," and "blockhead."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

References to other films, including other Disney products. This remake could inspire interest in other Pinocchio products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character in a cuckoo clock drinks a bottle of liquor.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this live-action/CGI adaptation of Pinocchio is a bit more intense than the animated classic (which itself has some fairly dark moments). Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is kidnapped, imprisoned, nearly turned into a donkey, and swallowed by a sea monster. One beloved character appears to die in one scene, and other characters are tossed around, threatened, hit over the head, captured and locked up, set on fire, teased, chased by the sea monster, and enslaved. Some of the situations, evil characters, and bad behavior could prove upsetting for younger or more sensitive viewers. But the messages are solid: Pinocchio must learn to follow his conscience, distinguish right from wrong, resist temptation, and prove himself brave, honest, and unselfish. His maker/dad, Geppetto ( Tom Hanks ), and his minder, Jiminy Cricket ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ), already model these qualities. There are quite a lot of taunts (like "stupid," "loser," "idiot," "jerk," and more) and some teasing. Other language includes "jackass," "H-E-double hockey sticks," "bollocks," "blimey," and "crock." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Based on 16 parent reviews

Pinocchio sadly disappointed.

What's the story.

Sweet elderly woodcarver Geppetto ( Tom Hanks ) lives alone with his pets and his creations, including a wooden puppet he calls Pinocchio . Before falling asleep one night, he makes a wish upon a star. A fairy ( Cynthia Erivo ) soon appears and grants Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) life and a voice, and she appoints the jaunty insect Jiminy Cricket ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) to be his conscience and guide. It's up to Pinocchio to prove himself worthy of becoming a full-fledged human boy. Geppetto loves him as a son, but on the day he sends the boy off to school, Pinocchio is tempted by dishonest players with promises of fame and fortune, and he's imprisoned as an act in a traveling puppet show. From there, he continues to follow temptation into other dangerous situations that put his life, and that of his father, in jeopardy.

Is It Any Good?

This retelling of the classic fairy tale boasts an impressive mix of CGI animation and live actors and settings, but the final product feels a little jumbled. Like its many predecessors, this retelling of Pinocchio looks and feels dark in places and could potentially frighten younger viewers. It could also confuse them at points. A full 15-minute intro of Hanks' old man Geppetto talking to his animals and "oddments" in his studio comes across as theatrical and slightly meandering, and it's very different in tone from much of the rest of the action-packed story. Of course, the scene showcases the character and the actor, who is as genuine as always. When he hesitates to send his wooden boy out into the world, holding tight to his tiny gloved hand and fighting back tears, Hanks is surprisingly moving as an animated co-star.

It's always hard to justify setting a film in one country but hiring actors from others to play key roles, as the main cast here has been asked to do in the Italy-set Pinocchio . Accents are all over the place, and some linguistic humor, including use of words like "pedagogy," "flaneur," and "charcuterie," could fly over some heads. Erivo is stunning in her sole scene as the Blue Fairy, starring in one of several memorable musical numbers. Another involves Pinocchio dancing on stage with marionette puppets. Director Zemeckis and team have dropped in some self-congratulatory references, from cuckoo clock characters from other films to inside jokes about actors and agents. These could land differently for different audiences, perhaps like this remake as a whole.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the lessons Pinocchio learns about following his conscience. Where does he go wrong at first? What changes his attitude and determination?

How does self-control play into Pinocchio's learning to do the right thing? Why was this so difficult for him? Have you ever experienced a situation where you were tempted to do something you knew was wrong? How did you handle it?

How does this version of the classic fairy tale compare with others you have read or seen? How is the ending different?

Do you think the tale of Pinocchio is too scary for younger kids? Why, or why not?

How do filmmakers combine animated characters with real actors and settings? Where could you go to find more information about animation technology?

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming : September 8, 2022
  • Cast : Tom Hanks , Benjamin Evan Ainsworth , Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Director : Robert Zemeckis
  • Studio : Disney+
  • Genre : Family and Kids
  • Topics : Magic and Fantasy , Fairy Tales , Music and Sing-Along , Puppets
  • Character Strengths : Self-control
  • Run time : 105 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG
  • MPAA explanation : peril/scary moments, rude material and some language
  • Last updated : July 26, 2023

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Review: ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ entertains and disarms

A wooden boy in front of portal displaying water in the animated movie "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio."

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Every “Pinocchio” is some wonder-struck filmmaker’s hope that their carved, sculpted and painted version of Italian author Carlo Collodi’s 140-year-old story about a manufactured boy will be accepted as a real movie someday. ( Roberto Benigni and Disney have each tried twice.) Are we surprised, then, that Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro — the closest thing genre cinema has to a Geppetto considering the painstaking care of his imagined worlds — had his own in the works for more than a decade?

And is it any wonder that the choice of stop-motion for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is just the modeling magic this tale needs to feel new-old again? Combining a darker tone closer to Collodi’s spirit with a commedia dell’arte sensibility regarding familiar elements and bizarre tangents, Del Toro, his co-screenwriter Patrick McHale and co-director Mark Gustafson — a stop-motion veteran getting his first feature credit — have made more of a Frankenstein-ed fairy tale than some irreverent answer to the Mouse House’s 1940 hand-drawn classic. That’s a good thing. Sometimes an odd, awkward thing, and at times a naggingly modern thing, but mostly a good thing.

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It’s clever, for instance, to tweak Collodi’s fixation on discipline over disobedience by simply setting “Pinocchio” during fascist Italy during World War II, when the populace were puppets. But before it gets into “Hunger Games”-meets-“Pan’s Labyrinth” territory in the second half, war is what drops a stray bomb on the mountain village where Geppetto lives, killing his adored son Carlo. That’s the background tragedy that spurs the bereft woodcarver — voiced with crusty finesse by David Bradley — to one night drunkenly build a spindly boy out of pine.

Our six-legged gentleman narrator is Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), here a pompous raconteur frequently subjected to splat gags but still positioned as a commenting conscience. The deep-blue apparition awarding life to Pinocchio (a spirited Gregory Mann) is a kindly but eerie-looking wood sprite (Tilda Swinton), who we later learn has an Underworld sister (also Swinton) named Death. This is Del Toro, remember, so a twig nose growing into a leafy branch isn’t the only consequence for misbehavior, and it goes without saying that the filmmaker’s handling of mortality in his “Pinocchio” is, pardon the pun, unvarnished. I wooden lie to you. (OK I’ll stop.)

Sweet and defiant, Pinocchio has a generous, inquiring soul but succumbs to the corrupting pull of carnival boss Count Volpe (a lushly louche-voiced Christoph Waltz) and his hench-monkey Spazzatura (the noise stylings of Cate Blanchett). But he must also deal with the oppressive eye of a severe Catholic priest (Burn Gorman) in cahoots with a Fascist official (Del Toro fave Ron Perlman), whose son Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard) is jealous of the attention a charmed puppet boy is getting.

A man with a white beard holding tolls and a wooden boy in the animated movie "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio."

Building a lost-art atmosphere of Old World detail in which canonical whimsy can still be mined for critiques about religion and politics, and be resonant about “imperfect fathers and imperfect sons,” as Sebastian tells us, is where this “Pinocchio” works best. When it plays like a hobbyist’s hidden art project come to peculiar life, it entertains and disarms.

Where it stumbles is when it goes neo-frantic kiddie movie — namely the second half’s kid soldiers, Mussolini cameo (an almost Warner Bros. cartoon touch) and monstrous dogfish. The choppy editing of the relentless peril resembles something computer-generated and scaled to pummel, rather than patiently solicitous of a rarely used animation form’s quirky intimacies. It also drives a few of the vocal performances toward shoutiness, while the delicate weirdness of Del Toro’s existentially minded travelogue between worlds loses some of its emotional potency. The songs, though, by composer Alexandre Desplat and often sporting Del Toro’s own lyrics, benefit from being interludes of feeling instead of big showy numbers, particularly the nicely turned “Ciao Papa.”

But it’s all plenty inventive and heart-conscious, grim without being punishing and, in its openness about impermanence and humility, could spark some significant parent-child exchanges about love, flaws and the necessity of meaningful time together. Which makes a bracingly big-picture, big-themed “Pinocchio” like Del Toro’s a worthy movie candidate for a close-knit family’s catalog of shared experiences.

'Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio'

Rated: PG, for dark thematic material, violence, peril, some rude humor and brief smoking Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes Playing: Starts Nov. 9, Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles; Nov. 11, Bay Theatre, Pacific Palisades; Los Feliz 3; available Dec. 9 on Netflix

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Pinocchio Review

Director robert zemeckis doesn’t breathe much life into his pinocchio adaptation..

Tara Bennett Avatar

Pinocchio premieres Sept. 8 exclusively on Disney+.

Pinocchio is Walt Disney Pictures’ 18th go at revisiting one of their beloved classics into what’s become their signature live-action/computer animation hybrid adaptation style. None have ever exceeded what the 2D originals accomplished in terms of originality, visuals, or pure creativity, and only a handful have even tried to distance themselves just a little from their source material. Despite having the incredibly talented Robert Zemeckis directing this one, Pinocchio lands firmly in the middle of that mediocre pack. Creatively, it clearly wrestles with adhering too closely to the superior 1940 version while awkwardly trying to force the old-fashioned story to dip into a jarring, modern voice that is incongruous with how it firmly embraces a 19th century setting and aesthetics. The result is a schizophrenic, bland watch that feels like a big-budget movie made only for 6- to 12-year-olds.

If you’re familiar with either Carlo Collodi’s classic children’s novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio, or Walt Disney’s 1940 animated Pinocchio, the script for this adaptation is going to feel very familiar. It’s still about a little boy puppet, Pinocchio (voiced by Ben Ainsworth), carved by the kind and lonely woodcarver, Gepetto (played by Tom Hanks). Mourning the loss of his own young son, Gepetto wishes upon a star that his creation might become real. Through the magic of The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), Pinocchio is brought to life with the caveat that for him to become a real boy, he must prove himself to be brave, unselfish, and true. Deputized as his temporary conscience, the earnest Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) promises to help Pinocchio achieve all those things despite lurking temptations.

Co-screenwriters Zemeckis and Chris Weitz ( Cinderella ) adhere to the same structure, sequences, and original songs from Disney’s 1940 animated film. The only material changes here come from Zemeckis’ decision to have some actors give live-action performances, like Hanks’ Gepetto and Luke Evans’ Coachman, and placing some scenes in real standing sets like Gepetto’s workshop shop interior and the wrecked ships inside Monstro, the sea monster’s, belly. The rest is all computer animation which has been a comfort medium for the director since 2004’s The Polar Express . Everything from Gepetto’s tiny pet companions, Cleo and Figaro, to the majority of the hedonistic Pleasure Island are part of the expansive digital canvas of zeros and ones.

In some places it works well, like the ethereal interpretation of The Blue Fairy with her delicate wings and blue glow, or the dappled lit streets and buildings of Gepetto’s charming Italian town. But the film relies on a full cast of entirely computer-generated characters that vary wildly in their success. The digital fur on Honest John (Keegan-Michael Key) and his silent cat pal, Gideon, is far from realistic in a distracting way, which means the uncanny valley problem is strong with them. And narrator Jiminy Cricket is designed to be longer and less cherubic than his 2D-animated counterpart, so he’s more shiny and plastic looking, which translates to coming off as less endearing. He’s also got a meta mouth on him that never quits, which doesn’t help the overall issues of us bonding with the chronically calamity-prone cricket. He’s like a modern character shoehorned into the piece to be cool for today’s kids.

What's the best modern Disney remake?

There are also some major sequences involving water that are undercooked visually. The integration of human actors into crashing waves or riding in boats is a major downgrade from what Zemeckis usually does in the medium, which hopefully implies a suddenly tightened budget and not taste. It makes for some underwhelming scenes that certainly don’t support the “CGI is better than 2D animation” argument.

For those looking for what might be new in this Pinocchio, it’s pretty minimal. There’s the addition of a talking seagull, Sofia (Lorraine Bracco), and the young puppeteer Fabiana (Kyanne Lamaya), who works for Stromboli (Giuseppe Battiston) and befriends puppet Pinocchio when he’s kidnapped by her boss. She’s given her own marionette, Sabina (voiced by Jaquita Ta’le), who gets her own song, “I Will Always Dance,” that is bouncy with a semi-Samba vibe. And musically, legendary composer Alan Silvestri is responsible for the lush score that’s the highlight of the film. He also co-composes with Glen Ballard the aforementioned song, along with three others that unfortunately don’t rise to the caliber of Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s 1940 compositions, “When You Wish Upon a Star” or “I’ve Got No Strings.”

Otherwise, this Pinocchio feels like a movie mandated to mirror far too closely the animated original, stifled from finding its own original path. And plenty of modern storytellers have had original takes on the Pinocchio story ( Guillermo del Toro’s even releasing his own later this year ), so it's not an impossible feat. Yet this script doesn’t try anything new, aside from the sweet addition of Fabiana and a slightly unexpected ending. Otherwise, it’s like watching someone literally turn the 1940 movie, original designs and all, into a computer-animated version of essentially the same thing.

Which begs the question, if there’s nothing substantive worth changing from their previous take of Pinocchio to make it fit for this generation, why make this at all? Are the anachronistic inclusions in the dialogue, like the name check of actor Chris Pine, or the visual representation of Disney classics in all of Gepetto’s clocks, worth the millions of dollars to make this, enough to get kids today to embrace this version as hip or for them? I’m not sure how that can be when this movie is so firmly immersed in the 19th century that it’s clearly old-fashioned by choice. Suffice it to say, this Pinocchio is going to have a tough time making nostalgia-loving adults happy or demanding tweens (and older) not deem it twee and corny. Its fate will likely be to fade into the background like so many of these adaptations do.

The 25 Best Disney Animated Movies

Read on for our picks for the 25 best Disney animated movies ever. (And keep in mind there's no Pixar here -- that's a different list, folks!)

Pinocchio further proves that Walt Disney Pictures’ obstinate effort to remake all of its classic animated films into hybrid, live-action/computer-animated versions is an exercise in mediocrity. Nothing cinematic, original, or even lasting comes from their ongoing exercise which makes it a continuing head-scratcher. With this retelling, there’s far too much fealty to the visuals and plot points of Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic, yet the script clearly bristles at being beholden to its old-fashioned constraints. The result is an occasionally beautifully rendered film with a schizophrenic script that alternates between old-timey twee and being too-hip-for-itself meta, complete with anachronistic dialogue. Aside from an unexpected ending, director Robert Zemeckis is basically doing a paint-by-numbers version of the studio’s much better original, just with modern animation and Tom Hanks. And while Tom always tries his best, even he can’t make this redo memorable on its own merits.

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'Pinocchio' Review: Disney CG Reboot Makes a Bizarre Fairy Tale Even Weirder

No lie: Tom Hanks carves a strange new version of the classic cartoon, on Disney Plus now.

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When you wish upon a star, you get Tom Hanks acting alongside a wooden boy.

Tom Hanks as Geppetto talks with Pinocchio

I don't know how long it's been since you saw Pinocchio, but it is  super  weird. A brand new remake of the classic Disney animation sanitizes the aging cartoon's more dubious elements, but still manages to be bizarre as all get-out -- and in fact, this awkward mishmash of digital effects and live action adds new levels of weird.

Reuniting the Forrest Gump team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis, the 2022 Pinocchio is streaming on Disney Plus today, Sept. 8. It isn't showing in theaters, and the suits at Disney have rather strangely chosen to drop the film when summer vacation is already over, but they have managed to release their version before Guillermo del Toro's stop-motion Pinocchio tells the same story (in theaters Nov. 25 and on Netflix Dec. 9).

Disney's version specifically remakes the House of Mouse's 1940 film. Uncle Walt's second animated feature after Snow White, Pinocchio was the first animated film to win an Oscar, and remains a visual treat. You can watch the original on Disney Plus, but while it smoothed over the nastiness of Carlo Collodi's original 1880s novel it still included a few quirks that will leave modern audiences wincing . So Pinocchio is the latest Disney classic to be remade for modern sensibilities and effects, following The Jungle Book , Beauty and the Beast , The Lion King , Tim Burton's  Dumbo and more (with a new Little Mermaid on the way).

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Hanks plays Geppetto, a shambling woodcarver in a bustling Italian village who wishes on a star and gets more than he bargained for when his newest puppet comes to life. There are no strings on this marionette in the shape of a little boy, but naive Pinocchio is soon pulled in all directions as he's seduced into various unsavory adventures.

The film opens with an animated cricket narrating the story (in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's ripe accent), only to get into a meta argument with himself about being a narrator. It just gets stranger from there. The main story about a talking puppet makes sense in a fairy tale-logic sort of way -- a wish is made, it comes true, any kid can understand that -- and a subtly suggested new backstory about Geppetto's grief for his lost family actually adds a new dimension of poignancy to his yearning wish. But the world into which Pinocchio emerges makes zero sense.

Not only does Pinoke hang out with a talking grasshopper, but also a singing fox and, for some reason, a sexy goldfish. If it's a world in which sentient creatures are commonplace, that surely takes away from Pinocchio's uniqueness. In fact, the new film lurches into this awkward space where it isn't clear if Pinocchio is unusual at all. Geppetto is surprised to see his creation walking and talking, and the puppet is billed as a remarkable sensation when he's pushed on stage at a traveling theater, but various other people interact with him like he's entirely unremarkable. And unlike in the original film, we never see villainous talking fox Honest John interact with any humans, so it isn't clear whether animals can even talk to people. 

I'm probably overthinking it.

But if you haven't overthought Frozen after watching it three times in a week, are you even a parent ?

Don't get me wrong, the randomness and surrealness of this weird storybook world is one of the best things about any version of Pinocchio. It feels unmoored from the all-too-familiar conventions of Western storytelling (y'know, the hero's journey and Save the Cat and all those narrative conventions that rob most movies of their power to surprise). Compared to mainstream films like, for instance, that other film in which Tom Hanks builds a surrogate son , Pinocchio offers a frisson of demented imagination and a heady whiff of the unexpected that you're usually more likely to find in a film from Japanese animators Studio Ghibli, like Ponyo or My Neighbor Totoro , than a Disney film.

It has to be said that the new version, directed by Robert Zemeckis, plays some things safe. Gone are the original's eyebrow-raising puppet burlesque show, underage cigar smoking and dubious ethnic stereotypes. Fair enough. Although the new version also disinfects the original film's characters, who were far from perfect: the cartoon Pinocchio was endearingly happy to be led astray, embracing sensual pleasures with gusto; while Jiminy Cricket bailed on Pinoke more than once. But in the new version, Pinocchio is disquieted by other juveniles' delinquency, while Jiminy is only torn from his do-gooding task when he's attacked by the film's antagonists. It's all a bit patronizing, and takes away from the misguided marionette's flawed relatability.

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This modern version updates some of the songs and jokes (including Keegan-Michael Key enjoyably blustering some pointed commentary on what it means to chase fame in 2022) and adds a smattering of new characters. There's a lot of potential in the character of Fabiana (Kyanne Lamaya), whose physical disability doesn't prevent her expressing herself through her ballerina puppet. But she and the other additions largely fall flat; for example, in the original, Pinocchio didn't make it to school, but this time he gets there only to be kicked out because of… puppet racism? This new stuff is chucked in and then just as quickly forgotten, rather than being carried through to play a part in the film's conclusion.

Other eccentric choices made by Zemeckis and chums include ripe Italian accents (and the decision to keep the sexy goldfish). It's also afflicted by that all too common blockbuster problem of being too dark -- literally. Pinocchio 2022 is bafflingly murky during several key sequences. When Luke Evans dances along the backs of a team of horses, it should be the sort of memorable showstopper you used to get from Dick Van Dyke in classic Disney fantasies. Instead, you can barely see what's going on.

Ultimately, even if you embrace the fairy tale oddness of this enjoyably bizarre world, the weirdest thing about this new film is how it looks. The recent crop of Disney reboots are often billed as "live action" remakes, but that's a misnomer: they're more accurately described as "photorealistic," because aside from a couple of human actors the visuals are almost entirely computer-generated. 

Technically very clever, but in this case it's harder to buy into the bizarre fairy tale world. Disbelief is easily suspended about animals and humans interacting when they're all of them are animated, but the presence of real human actors may have you questioning why some animals can walk and talk. Most importantly, while I hate to be down on what is probably a mindboggling technical achievement by talented, hardworking and probably underpaid visual effects artists, I just found the smoothly CG-animated Pinocchio puppet less alive than the lively '40s cartoon version.

There's a definite irony here that a movie which makes such a fuss about what it means to be "real" so frequently looks like nothing on the screen is real. Still, the 2022 Disney Pinocchio is amusingly bonkers. And if you or your kids aren't into it, you only have to string them along until Guillermo del Toro's version comes to life.

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Pinocchio Reviews

pinocchio new film review

The pacing is hopelessly unwieldly, with unnecessary deviations from the original film, added characters who don’t really have purpose and do not propel the plot, and new songs that are not up to Disney standards.

Full Review | Oct 26, 2023

pinocchio new film review

Robert Zemeckis’ live-action film has gorgeous, seamless animation and revels in its seductive timelessness.

Full Review | Oct 4, 2023

pinocchio new film review

Pinocchio boasts a more thematically impactful ending than the original but fails to deliver a new version of the famous childhood tale with the same magic and allure of the past.

Full Review | Original Score: C | Jul 25, 2023

pinocchio new film review

The movie doesn’t spark much magic like the original film does & just is very basic..

Full Review | Jul 25, 2023

pinocchio new film review

For a film about a wooden boy who wants to become real and learn about what it means to be a person, Pinocchio (2022) is lifeless. Even Hanks, who has spent a good portion of his career playing charming, loveable characters, is bland in this adaptation.

Full Review | Jul 24, 2023

pinocchio new film review

Go build your own wooden doll. Even that will be more productive than watching this Robert Zemeckis directorial.

Full Review | Original Score: 1/5 | Jul 20, 2023

pinocchio new film review

The faithfulness of this film sees it play justified homage to its inspiration, although often at the expense of offering anything particularly worthy of the whole remake.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | May 9, 2023

pinocchio new film review

A sparkling reimagining of the indelible 1940 Disney classic that manages to pay homage to the original — and to the 1883 Carlos Collodi story that inspired it — while also weaving new layers of magic into the proceedings.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Feb 15, 2023

pinocchio new film review

No strings attached

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jan 18, 2023

pinocchio new film review

Pinocchio will surely be a hit with families and will primarily be enjoyed by parents and children...However, audiences outside the target demographic will likely find this to be very surface-level and predictably average.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Jan 4, 2023

pinocchio new film review

They allow for some good emotional moments with a story that we've known before. Tom Hands does a good job as Geppetto & leads to the human connection to this story. Some times it feels like to much of a direct copy & doesn't boast for much rewatchability

Full Review | Original Score: B | Jan 1, 2023

pinocchio new film review

It might not be “Lion King” levels of bad, but it’s certainly “Mulan” levels of hollow and forgettable.

Full Review | Dec 30, 2022

All in all, Pinocchio ends up as a frustrating experience. It never feels like the characters had arcs, even if that’s what the film wants you to believe.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Nov 30, 2022

pinocchio new film review

...manages enough charm, inventiveness, and technical innovation to be worth the effort.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Nov 11, 2022

pinocchio new film review

unlikely to be remembered as the definitive version – just think of how quickly most other Disney remakes have disappeared from public consciousness. However, it is a sincere and polished attempt to walk in the footsteps of a masterpiece.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Oct 18, 2022

pinocchio new film review

For a story about a wooden puppet wanting to become a real boy, Zemeckis’ woeful approach with not-so-deep-fake animation visually destroys the narrative.

Full Review | Oct 3, 2022

pinocchio new film review

"I'm a real boy!" ... and a piece of **** movie.

Full Review | Oct 2, 2022

Pinocchio is bad, but it’s not inventively bad like Cats. It’s boringly bad, neither bold nor unique enough to be bad in a fun way.

Full Review | Oct 1, 2022

pinocchio new film review

This dull recreation of the animated film doesn’t strive for anything more than what was contained in the original version of this film and actually delivers less.

Full Review | Original Score: C | Sep 26, 2022

pinocchio new film review

Disney’s remake of its 1940 animated classic Pinocchio is just as bad as you’ve heard.

Full Review | Sep 24, 2022

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio review: Gorgeous, no strings attached

Rick Marshall

“An ambitious, beautiful adaptation of Carlo Collodi's tale with as much to offer adults as it has for younger audiences.”
  • Gorgeous animation
  • Recontextualizes familiar story
  • Powerful emotional beats
  • Great music
  • Runs long for a children's film
  • Themes and tone occasionally skew bleak

Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel  The Adventures of Pinocchio has been adapted and reimagined in one form or another countless times, to the point where the adventures of its titular, wooden marionette brought to life have become a generation-spanning touchstone in popular culture. It’s been done so often, in fact, that it’s fair to wonder whether there’s any way to make the 140-year-old tale feel fresh and fascinating.

Dark delights

Light in the shadows, an impressive cast, in perfect measure.

And yet, Guillermo del Toro manages to do just that — and so much more — in his gorgeous and brilliantly crafted adaptation of Pinocchio , which makes a strong case for itself as one of the year’s best films, animated or otherwise.

Directed by del Toro and Mark Gustafson from a screenplay del Toro penned with Patrick McHale ( Adventure Time ), the stop-motion animated Pinocchio — also known as  Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio to differentiate itself from Disney’s disappointing, live-action Pinocchio released just a few months ago — holds plenty of surprises for anyone familiar with the well-worn tale, beginning with its setting.

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Rather than setting the film in the late 19th century, del Toro’s  Pinocchio unfolds in Fascist Italy during the 1930s and incorporates the political and cultural tensions of the era into its main character’s adventures. The intense religious and nationalistic influences of the era loom large over this version of the tale and cast a darker, more complicated shadow over an otherwise familiar story.

That shift in tone shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for those with some awareness of del Toro’s oeuvre, and in many ways, the saga of Pinocchio plays to his strengths. Del Toro is a master of blending wonder and whimsy with the macabre and unsettling, and the film’s use of stop-motion animation to tell a story both energetically playful and darkly existential aligns perfectly with del Toro’s approach to storytelling.

To be clear, it’s not all doom and gloom in del Toro’s Pinocchio , but parents expecting something akin to Disney’s lighthearted, brightly colored spin on Collodi’s tale should probably prepare for some complicated — but important — conversations about faith, fascism, war, and mortality as the title character bounces from one predicament to the next in 1930s Italy. The film’s “PG” rating arguably belies the intensity of the story’s willingness to let its characters grapple with the meaning of life and what it means to live well, as well as how we process grief when those around us pass on.

For all of the somber themes explored in Pinocchio , there’s also plenty of fun to be found in the character’s adventures, too.

Gregory Mann voices the film’s wooden boy and does a fantastic job of imbuing his on-screen silliness with as much heart as the sadder moments. The film has no trouble pivoting when the story calls for humor and the sort of raw, unfiltered happiness that comes from being a young boy in a world full of wonders (particularly when that sentiment can be expressed in a song) and the film’s creative team finds room for plenty of both in Pinocchio’s adventure.

Once you get accustomed to the visual aesthetic of del Toro’s stop-motion  Pinocchio , it’s easy to get lost in the nooks and crannies of the gorgeously detailed sets and the features of each and every character introduced in the film. The richness and detail of their movements and interactions with the world around them are so captivating and smooth that it feels like a minor miracle for any animation team to pull off, and every scene in the film feels like a celebration of the puppet team’s tremendous talents.

Conveying the highs and lows of Pinocchio’s experiences — as well as those of his creator, Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley), and the rest of the characters — is no easy ask when you’re working with puppets, but the puppeteers and animators fill every character with emotive power.

It speaks volumes to the immersive nature of Pinocchio that it’s so easy to look past the impressive voice cast del Toro assembled for the film.

Along with Mann and Bradley, who bring a tremendous amount of depth to Pinocchio and Geppetto, respectively, Ewan McGregor is a triple threat as the voice of Sebastian J. Cricket (a.k.a. “Jiminy”), the film’s narrator, and an occasional singer as the story unfolds. He performs well in all three responsibilities, and his rich voice provides some much-needed humor and a sense of gravitas at various points.

Also delivering strong strong voice performances are Ron Perlman and Christoph Waltz, who portray Podestà and Count Volpe, respectively — two of the story’s primary antagonists.

Perlman’s gravelly voice is perfectly suited to portray Podestà, the town’s highest-ranking official in the Fascist government and the demanding father of Candlewick, the human boy who eventually befriends Pinocchio. Waltz is even more perfectly cast as Volpe, the down-on-his-luck carnival puppeteer who sees a money-making opportunity in Pinocchio. The Oscar-winning Django Unchained and  Inglourious Basterds actor throw himself into Volpe’s musical numbers with an enjoyment that pours out of his delivery and makes his evil character all the more fun to watch.

There aren’t many filmmakers around who can walk the line that del Toro navigates so well in  Pinocchio .

It’s impossible to decide whether  Pinocchio is more accurately billed as a children’s movie with mature themes or a film for adults built like a movie for children. Del Toro seems content in letting it be both, and it offers a powerful, rewarding experience regardless of how one sees fit to describe it.

No matter how it’s billed, del Toro’s  Pinocchio is something special and offers a strong reminder that some stories are truly timeless, capable of moving us and eliciting a powerful response no matter where we are in life. Its themes are universal, even as it tells a story that feels wonderfully singular in its look and method of delivery.

In both its ambition and execution, Pinocchio provides yet another reason why del Toro is one of Hollywood’s most visionary filmmakers, and if it does indeed earn the award recognition Netflix is hoping for, it will be a well-deserved honor.

After a brief theatrical run, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is available now on Netflix.

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Rick Marshall

Over the course of his career, Richard Linklater has established himself as the unofficial American master of the “hangout movie.” In films like Dazed and Confused and Everybody Wants Some!! Linklater has lovingly recreated eras that have been lost to time. In doing so, he's made films about the finiteness of youth, and the ways in which the kids of the ‘70s and ‘80s both were and were not ready for what was coming for them.

In his Before trilogy, Linklater took the structure of a hangout movie and used it to make three separate films that are among the most romantic ever made. On their own, the three films, which were produced over the course of 18 years, work as vignettes of specific moments in time in much the same way Dazed and Confused and Everybody Wants Some!! do. Put together, they form a trilogy about how love can evolve and endure over time.

Guillermo del Toro is one of the most prolific contemporary filmmakers. Since he emerged in the early 1990s in his native Mexico, he has directed, produced, written, and even lent his voice to scores of films. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has taken notice, nominating del Toro for six Oscars over his career (two of which he's won), with his most recent nomination coming as producer of Nightmare Alley, which was nominated for Best Picture.

Perhaps more impressively, del Toro has received great acclaim for films in typically disreputable genres – creature features, ghost stories, fairy tales, and B-list superhero flicks (Blade II, Hellboy). But no matter the genre or the approach – highbrow or lowbrow – his vision and style have been recognized as among the most distinctive in cinema. Here are the best feature films Guillermo del Toro has directed, according to Rotten Tomatoes. 10. Mimic (1997) – 64%

Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has a knack for making audiences uncomfortable in beautiful ways. Whether he's exploring human-merman romance in The Shape of Water or filtering the horrors of war through a dark, fairy-tale lens in Pan's Labyrinth, he always finds a way to drape darkness and depravity in a gorgeous, cinematic atmosphere that captures your attention and holds it there, no matter what unfolds on the screen.

Such is the case with Nightmare Alley, a neo-noir thriller co-written and directed by del Toro and based on William Lindsay Gresham's novel of the same name. The film follows an ambitious carnival worker who uses his training in reading and manipulating people to pull off one lucrative con after another and rise through society. When he partners with a cold, calculating psychologist in order to go after a wealthy, ruthless businessman, the former carny soon finds himself wrapped up in a dangerous game he can't afford to lose.

  • Cast & crew

Pinocchio and the Emperor of Night

  • Episode aired Feb 23, 2024

Phelous & the Movies (2008)

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  • Connections Features Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987)

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  • February 23, 2024 (United States)
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The 7 Best New Movies on Netflix in February 2024

From charming animated favorites to Oscar juggernauts

Everything Everywhere All at Once

If you’re looking for something new to watch on Netflix this month, you’ve come to the right place. February brings with it a bevy of love stories to be sure, but also charming family films, Oscar juggernauts and even an artful blockbuster. Below we’ve put together a curated list of some of the best movies newly streaming on Netflix in February to help whittle down your choices when paralyzed by the Netflix interface.

Behold our picks for the best new movies on Netflix in February 2024.

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“Orion and the Dark”

Orion and the Dark

Those of us whose childhoods were marked by anxiety and fear of the unknown can find solace in “Orion and the Dark,” from writers Charlie Kaufman and Lloyd Taylor and based on the book by Emma Yartlett. Directed by Sean Charmatz, the animated feature stars Jacob Tremblay as Orion and Paul Walter Hauser as Dark, the night entity that helps Orion confront some of his many fears. Simultaneously playful and heartfelt, the movie explores the embodiment of other night entities and phenomena like Unexplained Noises (voiced by Golda Rosheuvel), neon green mosquito-like Insomnia (voiced by Nat Faxon), Sleep (voiced by Natasia Demetriou), Quiet (voiced by Aparna Nancherla) and even one day entity Light (voiced by Ike Barinholtz). Intercut with the Adult Orion (Colin Hanks) soothing his daughter Hypatia’s (Mia Akemi Brown) similar worries, the story contains adventure, wisdom and comfort for all generations. – Dessi Gomez

“Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken”

Ruby Gillman

Come for the voice cast , stay for the plot in Kirk DeMicco’s animated and aquatic adventure . In this Dreamworks Animation film, Lana Condor brings titular character Ruby Gillman to life alongside Toni Collette as Ruby’s mother Agatha and Jane Fonda as Ruby’s Grandmamah. The coming-of-age story spotlights the women of Rub’s family, who have the magical ability to transform into giant kraken. Ruby’s coming to terms with this part of her identity leads her to protect the ocean from a fearsome enemy — the mermaids (!) — all while putting herself out there to ask her human crush Connor (Jaboukie Young-White) to prom, which is on a boat where her mother does not want her to be. The Gillman family get away with passing for humans since they live in a seaside town with enough moisture in the air to keep them hydrated, but any exposure to water would send Ruby into giant kraken mode. But emotions and true selves need to be unleashed! – Dessi Gomez

Gina Rodriguez smiles and raises a glass to cheers in a still image from Netflix's Players

Gina Rodriguez plays a sports journalist in this Netflix rom-com. That’s not the only thread of the broader theme of the film, in which she and her coworkers and close friends “run plays” to help each other get laid. Mack (Rodriguez) is the mastermind behind the squad, featuring Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.). Brannagan (Augustus Prew), Little (Joel Courtney) and later, office assistant Ashley (Liza Koshy). The shenanigans and tomfoolery are fun until Mack sets her sights on a man who she thinks will be a more mature catch and responsible in a relationship. Reminiscent of “Fever Pitch,” the friends to lovers trope shines in this rom-com, appropriate for the post-Valentine’s Day hangover or depression. – Dessi Gomez

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This A24 film comes with a cuteness overload while teaching valuable life lessons, especially if you live in a shell like a hermit crab. Jenny Slate reprises her voice role of Marcel the Shell, and Isabella Rossellini joins her as the voice of Marcel’s Nana Connie. Marcel’s adventures, musings and questions are bound to bring any viewer some spark of joy, whether he’s ziplining across the yard, learning from Nana Connie or navigating the unknown. Director Dean Fleischer Camp expands the original YouTube shorts in a big way. – Dessi Gomez

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Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh in "Everything Everywhere All at Once"

A24’s Oscar-winning phenomenon “Everything Everywhere All at Once” hits Netflix later this month, and it’s worth the wait. From filmmaking duo Daniels, this indescribable film is at once a family drama, multiversal sci-fi adventure and bareknuckle actioner. Michelle Yeoh plays a Chinese immigrant running a laundromat with her husband (played by Ke Huy Quan) who is fighting an IRS audit of her business. But in a meeting with the IRS, her body is taken over by a version of her from a different universe. Absolutely bonkers action ensues, but the film barrels towards an emotional ending that drills down this story of familial bonds. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won seven Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay. – Adam Chitwood

“Something’s Gotta Give”

somethings-gotta-give-jack-nicholson-diane-keaton

If you’re in the mood for a feel-good movie, you can’t go wrong with a Nancy Meyers film — and her 2003 romantic comedy Something’s Gotta Give fits that bill. The film stars Diane Keaton as a successful playwright who is forced to look after her daughter’s much-older boyfriend (Jack Nicholson) after a heart attack, and against all odds these two complete opposites begin to attract. The film has the wit and humor of Meyers’ other films, but also a strong emotional center as the story of a successful 50-something single woman. Keaton and Nicholson are both pretty terrific here, and as with all of Meyers’ films, the house at the center of it is to die for. – Adam Chitwood

“Pacific Rim”

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Few filmmakers put as much passion into blockbuster spectacle as Guillermo del Toro, who brings the same level of artistry to robots and kaiju fighting in “Pacific Rim” as he does Oscar-winning dramas like “The Shape of Water” or “Pinocchio.” 2013’s “Pacific Rim” is a colorful actioner that takes place in the aftermath of an invasion of kaiju – or giant monsters – who have risen up through a rift in the ocean. Humanity has chosen to fight back by building enormous robots that can be piloted to fight these monsters one on one. The vast ensemble cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman and Charlie Day and let’s just say watching this and the sequel (which was not directed by del Toro) back-to-back really showcases what del Toro brings to the table. – Adam Chitwood

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The 7 best new movies and shows to stream this weekend

From Airbenders to animated Star Wars, here's what to watch this weekend

Avatar

Another weekend means another batch of streaming recommendations and if you're in the mood for a binge-watch, you're in luck – this edition has a bumper crop of TV shows. First up, Netflix's live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is now streaming, while animated Star Wars series The Bad Batch kicks off its final season on Disney Plus. Over on Apple TV Plus, Noomi Rapace stars in psychological thriller Constellation and Rick Grimes returns in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live on AMC Plus. If you're in the UK, you can also catch all eight seasons of the Claire Danes-led thriller Homeland on Disney Plus.

As for movies, Joy Ride , one of 2023's most fun comedies, is now streaming on Prime Video in the UK, and Everything Everywhere All at Once , which swept last year's Oscars and stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, is now on Netflix in the US.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Available: Worldwide Watch now: Netflix

Netflix brings a live-action spin to beloved Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series follows 12-year-old Aang (Gordon Cormier), the last remaining Airbender, who has the power to harness all four elements. He's the only one who can take on the Fire Nation and put a stop to their plans to take over the world – with the help of his new friends, Katara (Kiawentiio) and Sokka (Ian Ousley). The cast also includes Daniel Dae Kim, Ken Leung, and supporting turns from Danny Pudi and George Takei. All episodes are available to watch now. 

Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 3

Available: Worldwide Watch now: Disney Plus

Animated series The Bad Batch returns for a third and final season on Disney Plus. The Clone Wars spin-off follows Clone Force 99, a group of elite clone troopers and fugitives who are able to resist the influence of Order 66. In season 3, the gang is set to have their limits tested as they fight to reunite with Omega (Michelle Ang), as she faces challenges of her own inside a remote Imperial science lab. The first three episodes are available to stream now, with the rest dropping every Wednesday.

Constellation

Available: Worldwide Watch now: Apple TV Plus

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace stars in Constellation, a new psychological thriller series on Apple TV Plus. She plays Jo, an astronaut who has to suddenly return to Earth after disaster strikes her latest mission. However, her homecoming doesn't quite go as planned when she finds that parts of her life are missing. Jo embarks on a desperate quest to recover what she's lost and expose the truth. Better Call Saul's Jonathan Banks and Broadchurch's James D'Arcy also star. The first three episodes are streaming now, with subsequent episodes being released every Wednesday.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

Available: Worldwide Watch now:  AMC Plus

Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira return as Rick and Michonne for new The Walking Dead spin-off The Ones Who Live. The pair have been separated since Rick disappeared, presumed dead, in season 9 and the new series will see the pair's attempts to reunite. Another familiar face making a return is Pollyanna McIntosh's Jadis, who was in the helicopter with Rick when he disappeared, while Lost's Terry O'Quinn and Lucifer's Lesely-Anne Brandt have also joined the cast. New episodes are set to be released every Sunday on AMC Plus, but there's no word of a UK release yet.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Available: US Watch now: Netflix

The Daniels' multi-Academy Award-winning Everything Everywhere All at Once has finally made it to Netflix in the US. The movie sees Michelle Yeoh give an Oscar-winning performance as Evelyn Wang, a woman who is drawn from her ordinary life as a laundromat owner into an adventure through the multiverse when she discovers that she is the only one who can save every world in existence from an ominous threat. The film also features Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu as Evelyn's husband and daughter, and Jamie Lee Curtis as an antagonistic tax inspector.

Available : UK Watch now:   Prime Video

Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim directs Joy Ride, a raucous comedy starring Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sabrina Wu, and Sherry Cola. After adoptee Audrey (Park) decides she wants to find her birth parents in China, she recruits her best friend Lolo (Cola), Lolo's eccentric cousin Deadeye (Wu), and her former college roommate (Hsu) to join her on her trip. In short, things don't quite go to plan, but their wild, debauched journey also becomes an important story of bonding and friendship. Hold on tight.

Homeland season 1-8

Available: UK Watch now: Disney Plus

All eight seasons of Homeland, which originally aired between 2011 and 2020, are now streaming on Disney Plus in the UK. The thriller series stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent with bipolar disorder who becomes entangled with terror suspect Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a US Marine Sergeant who was held as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for eight years. The cast also includes Deadpool's Morena Baccarin, Supergirl's David Harewood, The Princess Bride's Mandy Patinkin, and The White Lotus' F. Murray Abraham.

If there's nothing here that tickles your fancy, then you might have to start looking into each streaming service's back catalogue, which can be a daunting task given how many titles they each host. Fear not, though... if you're a TV fan, then we've got you covered with our lists of the best Netflix shows , best Disney Plus shows , and the best Amazon Prime Video shows .

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I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism. 

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