Cast: Tom Hanks, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cynthia Erivo, Keegan-Michael Key, Lorraine Bracco, Luke Evans, Giuseppe Battiston, Kyanne Lamaya , Jaquita Ta’Le
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rating: 3.5 Moons
The beloved and popular Italian fictional character and the protagonist of the children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence, Tuscany, gets a new live-action and CGI retelling feature film, Pinocchio by Robert Zemeckis. The film is a live-action adaptation of Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic of the same name which was based on the children’s novel.
Tom Hanks stars as Geppetto, the the woodcarver who builds and treats Pinocchio (played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as if he were his real son. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in the adorable role of Jiminy Cricket, who serves as Pinocchio’s guide and ‘conscience’ while Cynthia Erivo plays the Blue Fairy who grants Geppetto’s heartfelt wish and turns the puppet into a wooden-boy. On the other hand, the film also stars Loraine Bracco as a new character Sofia the seagull and Luke Evans is The Coachman while Keegan-Michael Key is ‘Honest’ John. Giuseppe Battiston plays Stromboli.
The film starts with an Italian woodcarver and toymaker Geppetto (Tom Hanks) putting finishing touches to his puppet while he keeps looking at the photo of his young son. Geppetto lives with his pets, Figaro the kitten and Cleo the goldfish, and rarely ventures out of his house after the death of his wife and son. The lonely woodcarver creates the puppet and names him Pinocchio as he was made out of pine wood.
As he prepares for bed Geppetto wishes upon a star for Pinocchio to turn into a live boy. His wish is heard and answered by the Blue Fairy played by Cynthia Erivo who brings the puppet to life but informs him that he can become a real boy if he makes his father Geppetto proud and be brave, truthful and unselfish. She also assigns Jiminy Cricket (the narrator of the story and an insect) as Pinocchio’s ‘conscience’ and guide until he develops his own. When Geppetto wakes up he is overjoyed to find Pinocchio come to life and decides to send him off to school to learn his letters. However, misadventures befall on Pinocchio after he is driven away from the school for being a puppet.
Pinocchio played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth is led astray by ‘Honest’ John (Keegan-Michael Key) who convinces him to join Stromboli’s (a cruel and greedy Italian puppeteer) puppet show. Stromboli locks him in a bird cage in order to stop him from escaping. However, the well-known magic of Pinocchio’s growing nose (when he tells a lie) comes in useful as he is rescued by Jiminy. Pinocchio develops a friendship with the marionette Sabina played by Jaquita Ta’Le and Kyanne Lamaya’s Fabiana. However, his misadventures do not end after escaping from Stromboli’s cage as he is picked up by The Coachman (Luke Evans). But Pinocchio showcases immense truthfulness, honesty and good behaviour to escape this ordeal as well and eventually gets reunited with Gepetto, Figaro, Cleo, Jiminy and Sofia the seagull after exhibiting immense courage and bravery.
The voiceover of Benjamin Evan Ainsworth brings Pinocchio to life and makes for a great and endearing character on screen. He is cute, adorable and loveable just as a small boy should be. On the other hand, Tom Hanks as the lonely yet fatherly Geppetto is a treat to watch. His emotions, expressions as well as exuberance light up the screen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket does a swell job indeed as the narrator and the protector/guide of Pinocchio. Kyanne Lamaya’s and Jaquita Ta’Le’s Fabiana and Sabiana are endearing and make you believe in goodness of people while Giuseppe Battiston, Luke Evans and Keegan-Michael Key portray the antagonists perfectly. Cynthia Erivo brings forth the Disney classic When You Wish Upon a Star in her soulful voice and makes for a delightful Blue Fairy full of rhyming schemes and jokes. Lorraine Bracco as the friendly seagull Sofia plays a pivotal role in the film.
Robert Zemeckis’ directorial is a feel-good live action CGI retelling that brings back the essence of the original classic film. He keeps the excitement intact and never lets your attention waver. There is never a lull moment in the film. Although the film has great VFX but it does lack a sense of wonder.
Alan Silvestri’s music catapults the film into one a fun and musical adventure. Silvestri along with Glen Ballard have written new songs for the film, which also includes songs from the original film including When You Wish Upon a Star, Little Wooden Head, Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee and I've Got No Strings. Tom Hanks also lends his vocal chords to brand new song Pinocchio, Pinocchio. Kyanne Lamaya’s I Will Dance is a bitter-sweet number that will tug at your heartstrings while Luke Evans’ The Coachman to Pleasure Island is full of foreboding and evil tides.
Pinocchio is a sure-shot trip down nostalgia lane and will appeal to children and adults alike. The film is worth a watch and will leave you with warm fuzzy feelings in your heart.
PeepingMoon.com gives Pinocchio, 3.5 Moons.