The upcoming Pinocchio film being released by Netflix, whose trailer dropped just last week, is facing an uphill battle to win over audiences. With 2022 drawing to a close, and two other movies based on the classic fairy tale preceding it that were universally panned by critics and audiences alike, the odds are definitely stacked against it.
Will third time be the charm for the Guillermo Del Toro directed stop motion animated feature? Or will it suffer the same fate as both of its predecessors?
For the beloved tale of the wooden boy whose greatest wish was to become real, Del Toro’s film is the final of the trifecta to be released this year, premiering on Netflix and in theaters on December 9th. The first of the three films to be released was Pinocchio: A True Story back in February, done in a more conventional computer animation style. The second of these was a remake of the classic Disney animated film, a live action version directed by Robert Zemeckis and released on Disney+ in October. Sadly, despite the best efforts of both films and the stirring trailer released for the Disney version, neither one received good reviews.
This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean doom for Del Toro’s film. Being well known for his gift when it comes to taking even the most innocent of stories to dark yet beautiful and fascinating places, the trailer shows audiences reassuring glimpses of his unique point of view. For one thing, the well known Disney classic version of the story is set in a village inspired by Bavaria, and only barely alludes to its Italian origins with character names and Geppetto’s accent. Del Toro’s film takes place in 1930s Facist Italy, which already lends a much darker tone to his interpretation of the story. In addition, familiar parts of the tale like the whale are replaced with a beautifully rendered fish, and the blue fairy is seemingly replaced by an unusual creature that is both gorgeous and unsettling, hearkening back to other Del Toro classics like the Hellboy films and Pan’s Labyrinth.
Other factors may have also contributed to the downfall of the previous two films, factors that won’t necessarily apply to Del Toro’s Pinocchio. The first of the trio to be released, Pinocchio: A True Story, was likely affected by the fact that it was a Russian film with high profile English language voice actors added for an American release. Given that it premiered just three short days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not even the meme-ability of Pauly Shore’s line delivery as the main character could be expected to save the movie from both anti-Russian sentiment and global reactions to the invasion that likely influenced reviews professional and fan-based alike.
As for the Disney+ film, it likely had too much history to contend with. Left competing against themselves, like the lion’s share of live action remakes in recent years, Pinocchio was no exception and fell short of the expectations set by its impressive trailer. Nowhere near as stirring and emotionally evocative as its predecessor, star power wasn’t nearly enough to save it from being critically underwhelming.
While the convergence of these three films in one year may seem like overkill, the fact is that Del Toro’s version of Pinocchio has been in the works for quite some time, and the director has gone on record as being highly optimistic. Rather than being focused on performance, he’s got his sights set on the story he wants to tell, and how he wants to tell it. That much is perfectly clear from the outset, as the clear theme of this rendition of the story is based not on what it is to be human or being a good person, but on the answer to that question: love, the heart of human nature, and how it unites us through darkness, light, joy, and pain.
Did you see the other two movies? What does the third represent to you: further revisiting a classic, or redemption for Hollywood’s efforts to make this standard story new again? Be sure to hit theaters or load up Netflix on December 9th to answer those questions. If the movie lives up to the trailer, we all look to be in for a treat.
No strings attached.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.