It seems like 2022 was not only year of the tiger, it was also the year of Pinocchio remakes. Not only were we given a terribly stale, uninspired live-action remake created by Disney themselves, Guillermo Del Toro also decided to put his spin on the beloved fairy tale. After experiencing the horrifying mess that was Pinocchio (2022), I am unafraid to admit that I was concerned Del Toro’s version would also inevitably end in a burning fire. Because although I love Del Toro as both a director and human being, there’s no denying that remakes are difficult to get right. How do you bring something fresh and exciting to a story that is already beloved and renowned? Well, apparently Del Toro’s got the answer because Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio was an imaginative retelling of the story that perfectly captured both the darkness and magic hidden beneath this children’s tale.

Pinocchio eating a bunch of junk and sweets.

Now as I’ve mentioned before, I am an absolute sucker when it comes to stop motion animation – when that combination of unique visuals matched with a beautiful story hits, it’s absolutely wondrous. It had honestly never crossed my mind how fitting stop motion animation would be for a Pinocchio movie, and thanks to Del Toro, he’s able to showcase his brilliancy in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. Everything from the way Pinocchio looked to the way he moved was well suited by this choice of animation; the sort of rigid feel you get by looking at his wooden body is amplified thanks to the stop motion visuals. I just loved how this style of animation gave the story more life and character compared to the surprisingly hollow and lifeless feeling of the live-action version. And while it was certainly a pleasant experience watching this film, I couldn’t help but also admire the amount of craftsmanship that went into making the movie. There is so much detail and thought in every shot, I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and effort it took to create all of it.

Geppetto and Pinocchio

Of course with the trailers alone I could see that Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio was going to be a visual treat. So what initially got me worried wasn’t how the film was going to look, but with how the story was going to be told. Because I love the Disney classic so much already, I had high expectations for this film. I wanted it to be inventive enough to feel like a new perspective on the fairy tale but still honour and respect what worked so well for the original in the first place. Basically, make it new enough so I would want to watch both Pinocchio (1940) and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio for different reasons. And I don’t know how he did it but Del Toro really exceeded my expectations. He somehow managed to ground the story by having it take place in a real, tangible setting, but he simultaneously managed to elevate the story’s mystical and wondrous elements by introducing new kinds of magic.

So in ways, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio feels like a more fleshed out, mature, realistic version of the original (kind of?). We got to explore more of Geppetto’s character and history which was really cool, but we also got to understand the consequences of Pinocchio’s ignorance and innocence in a new, terrifying way. It was interesting seeing how Pinocchio’s decisions seemed to negatively impact those around him just as much as it impacted himself. I particularly liked how Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio didn’t feel like it was entirely about Pinocchio because there was a lot of focus on Geppetto too (in fact, I would argue this story is just as much about Geppetto as it is Pinocchio). I enjoyed getting to see him as a more fleshed out character, one with many conflicts and trauma, as opposed to just an old and endearing side character.

Jiminy Cricket leaving his tree to write his memoir.

This version of Pinocchio’s character felt a bit different too – it was very well done in my opinion. There were many times when I felt I was on the verge of frustration because of his ignorance and poor judgment, but they did a great job at balancing those moments of annoyance with realizations of Pinocchio’s goodness and heart. Although he is a rather difficult character to connect with (he’s essentially a baby), his moments of pure intention really shine through. I’d argue that’s where the heart of this movie lies, seeing Pinocchio developing his sense of good will without much help from Jiminy Cricket. On that note, it was also very interesting to see how Jiminy Cricket didn’t have as big of a role as I thought. His role was more or less reduced to that of a bystander versus having the pivotal role of being Pinocchio’s conscious. It was surprisingly refreshing to see this because it allowed the film to be entirely focused on Pinocchio and his individual growth and decision making.

I do quickly want to compliment the voice actors for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio though because as with all animated films, good or bad voice acting could make or break it. I had no issues with the cast for this film though and felt every character was matched with an appropriately expressive voice that helped build personality. I was very impressed with Gregory Mann who voiced the titular character because he perfectly captured that sort of young but ignorant soul Pinocchio has. Mann brought so much character and life just with his voice and it really added to Pinocchio’s character overall. Another (shocking) member of the voice cast was Cate Blanchett who apparently voiced Spazzatura the monkey. Look, I don’t know exactly how much of it was her just making monkey noises in an audio booth but colour me impressed.

The Blue Fairy that Pinocchio meets every time he dies and is about to be resurrected.

Given how much Pinocchio (2022) was an utter letdown, I was absolutely thrilled to see that Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio pushed the boundaries to create something different and bold. While the heart of the movie remains true to that of the original classic, there were enough changes and differences that made this film feel like it could stand on its own. The stop motion animation was truly magnificent and nicely complimented the plot which made full use of the dark and mystical nature of this fairy tale. Really enjoying this fantasy adventure that Del Toro has created, I’ve decided to give Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio an 8/10. Let this movie remind us how remakes can and should always be done.