Guillermo del Toro Carves a Modern-Day Masterpiece with Pinocchio

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: A father’s wish magically brings a wooden boy to life in Italy, giving him a chance to care for the child.

Warning: Mild Spoilers Ahead

It’s a me, Pinocchio!

Review: I don’t know about you, but if it were possible I would love to spend a day inside the mind of Guillermo del Toro. To fans of fantasy and horror his name is synonymous with the phrase “beautifully macabre” and in his first ever animated feature Pinocchio, Del Toro’s ability to bring his imagination to vibrant life shines as bright as ever.

Most people are familiar with the story of woodworker Geppetto (David Bradley) a kind and affable man who lives in the idyllic countryside with his son Carlo (Gregory Mann), his pride and joy. Unlike the apparently boring and uninspired remake Disney released this year of the same tale (I say apparently because I didn’t watch it and I have no plans to) this tale of a wooden boy brought to life is decidedly more mature and places the story and its characters in Italy during the World War I. Del Toro has said in the past that growing up the way he did in Mexico he knows firsthand that the horrors of the world touches adults and children alike, and you only have to watch his past films like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone to see how seriously he treats the topic of childhood traumas. Continuing with this theme, a bomb is dropped, and young Carlo is killed, destroying Geppetto’s outlook on life in the process. Years later a desperate and grief-stricken Geppetto carves a puppet (this time he uses wood from a tree near his son’s grave) and the rest you should most definitely see for yourself.

Well, that’s not creepy at all

The beauty of stop-motion animation is it lends perfectly to Del Toro’s style of storytelling. It’s an artform that requires a delicate, thoughtful and precise touch to work, and as a director who cut his bones working with Mexican special effects teams on films, it allows for his imagination to come to life in a way that hand drawn animation just wouldn’t be able to pull off. Added to the gorgeous animation on hand is a fantastic and well-chosen cast of actors as Ewan McGregor (Sebastian J. Cricket, not named Jiminy this time around), Tilda Swinton (Wood Sprite and Death), Cate Blanchett (Spazzatura), Christopher Waltz (Count Volpe), Finn Wolfhard (Candlewick), Ron Perlman (Podestà) and a host of others bring these characters to life in ways that would make poor old Geppetto envious.

The inspired design choices for each of these characters update them in ways no one but Del Toro and his co-director Mark Gustafson (remember the television series The PJ’s? That was Gustafson!) could’ve thought up and takes a story that is admittedly long in the tooth and makes it feel wholly original.

He looks like a trustworthy chap. I really like the cut of his jib

The intricacies and beauty of Del Toro’s imagination comes to beautiful life here as this version of Pinocchio fully embraces the darker elements of this tale of a grieving father and the lengths he would go to have his son back in some shape or form. Deeper themes are explored too as Del Toro takes on the dangers of fascism, organised religion (especially considering the time period) and the importance of stopping to appreciate each and every moment we spend with loved ones while we have them. The superb award-worthy animation can stand head and shoulders with the likes of The Fantastic Mr. Fox or, one of my personal favorites, Kubo and the Two Strings. But most importantly Del Toro’s version of Pinocchio has his unique signature all over it and creates a modern-day masterpiece of an animated film the likes of which has been a bit lacking of late.

Don’t sleep on this one folks; whether you’re a fan of Pinocchio or not, this is the kind of movie that will go on to be considered a cinematic classic.

Score: 10 out of 10

Have you seen Pinocchio? What did you think of it? And you can check out more great content below:

HORROR FANTASY ‘PAN’S LABYRINTH’ IS AN UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY
WENDELL AND WILD: CREATIVE BUT LANGUID STOP-MOTION HORROR COMEDY
GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES S1: ALL EPISODES RANKED

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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