Pinocchio, the first animated film from the Walt Disney Studio, is by far the oldest film to ever be remake in live-action. It follows the original's formula, but adds enough to make it a great entertainment for those who are already fans.
Even if you have never seen the original Disney film Pinocchio, you probably know the story. A lonely woodcarver (Tom Hanks) creates the wooden boy and wishes for him to be real. The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) accepts the request and gives it. Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) is given life, though he must prove himself to be brave, honest, and selfless.
The digital effects of Pinocchio's main character were always going to be important, and for the most part, the film succeeds. The fact that most of you main characters who are CGI, from Pinocchio herself to a couple of anthropomorphic animals, do not need to look real in the strict sense, helps. Jiminy Cricket is a remarkable character to create.
The live-action adaptation of the animated original does not go too far away from the animated original. All of the main characters and elements are there, and everything goes from start to finish as planned. Thats not to say there aren't some minor changes to the plot in the general strokes.
The live-action Pinocchio is more a musical than its predecessor.
While most Disney animated films are considered musicals, most of the early films aren't. They are simply films with music. The live-action Pinocchio is still not a musical, but it's closer to it, as the team of Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard have created five original songs to go along with classics like Ive Got No Strings and When You Wish Upon a Star.
The new songs aren't likely to become overnight classics, but they're good songs that don't feel out of place with older songs, and they give us an excuse to hear Tom Hanks sing.
The main change is that Pinocchio is actually a much more sympathetic protagonist this time around than he was in 1940. He gets into trouble because he expresses his intention to refuse what he believes. However, situations are set against him in a way that results in the same ultimate outcome.
Tom Hanks is fantastic, as usual, but Pinocchio need more of him.
The change is significant as it greatly impacts the main themes in the tale. While Pinocchio still learns the importance of honesty and bravery, it doesnt feel like that's the point here, and what the point is seems to be lost.
Without going into spoiler territory, the conclusion of this new Pinocchio seems to present the end of characters arcs that never got the chance to be developed properly, and thats a shame because the ideas inside them, particularly as they relate to the relationship between the wooden boy and his father, might have been special had they been given more time.
As Geppetto, Tom Hanks is a pleasure to portray, and it would have been nice to have him see more of him. Pinocchio provides a better understanding of who this guy is and why weve found him in this place, but then it omits any information.
Pinocchio from Disney+ has some surprising dark moments that may make the film a bit too difficult for the youngest viewers.
The Coachman, a fairly unrecognizable character, has given another outstanding performance, including one of the previously mentioned original songs. Evans Coachman is a quite disturbing character, he brings a palpable evil that makes a great contrast to all of Geppetto's goodness.
Pleasure Island is by far the darkest place that a Disney live-action remake has ever gone. Where the animated film accepted the freedom of Pleasure Island, this version of Pinocchio finds himself there by chance, and he does not really want to be. His displeasure is palpable, and ultimately justified. There are both figurative and literal monsters in the dark trying to catch him.
The live-action Pinocchio is neither the best nor the worst of Disney's universe. It's mostly fine as a technical filmmaking exercise that brings the Disney story of Pinocchio to life. It could have given the story more life, but it fails.