We take a look at what critics have had to say about Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of the Italian fairytale.
The Guardian: *** “The movie is potent and sombre, though I couldn’t help thinking that the story of a wooden puppet-boy in this stop-motion world where everyone looks like a wooden puppet is somehow extraneous. For me, this version, with its carefully packaged fantasy-horror element, doesn’t have the anarchy and inexplicability of Roberto Benigni/Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio from two years ago. But it certainly has its moments of poignancy and sadness and McGregor’s droll tones as the longsuffering cricket provide some grace notes of fun.”
The Conversation.com: “Using fantasy and genre fiction, del Toro once again gives voice to those who might otherwise be disregarded as “freaks”.”
Empire: **** “Del Toro is never enslaved by the novel, yet remains faithful to its spirit: its playfulness, its cynicism, its anarchy — and its heart. And here, Guillermo wears his own heart — and soul — on his sleeve. It is the most philosophical, existential Pinocchio adaptation yet. It gets in your bones.”
Slant Magazine: “Nonetheless, del Toro has forged a striking film. What stays with you, days later, is its wild flashes of invention, all born of painstaking craft and devotion. Try and shake the image of Gepetto’s human son in a church, moments before his fiery demise, glancing in panic at a wooden statue of Christ on the cross. Or of Pinocchio plunging into the sea and thrashing his limbs, the better to rescue his drowning father. Del Toro hasn’t stitched and bolted his singular style onto familiar material.”
IGN.com: “Guillermo del Toro sprinkles his signature dark whimsy on a fairytale classic with stunning puppetry and catchy original songs. Filled with heart, humor, and historical grounding, it’s a phenomenal feat of animated cinema.”
The Wrap: “It’s intense, creepy, often harrowing stuff, so you can see why del Toro has said in interviews that his “Pinocchio” isn’t a children’s film. But that doesn’t mean that brave children, and brave adults, won’t adore it. Del Toro and his co-writers, Patrick McHale (“Adventure Time”) and Matthew Robbins (“Crimson Peak”), balance the more hellish misadventures with chirpy humor, Alexandre Desplat’s songs are sprightly fun, and the Ray Harryhausen–worthy models have a folksy, old-world charm and a limber grace. Stop-motion movement has rarely, if ever, looked as natural.”
NME: ***** “The bigger draw though is the animation itself. Partnered with the Jim Henson company and ShadowMachine (the studio who made BoJack Horseman), del Toro and Gustafson make Pinocchio look better than ever before. Rendered in gorgeous stop motion against hand-painted backdrops, there’s something fitting about seeing the story brought to life with actual puppets – genuine movie magic in action.”
Loud and Clear Reviews: **** 1/2 “Stop-motion animation is a meticulous, hand-crafted and precise form. When it pays off, it looks spectacular, as it does in Pinocchio. It is all down to production studio ShadowMachine (alongside The Jim Henson Company), who create fluid character movements that work alongside long tracking shots from cinematographer Frank Passingham. The sets and architecture are intricately detailed, giving the impression of a wooden world.”
Variety: “Only rarely, however, does “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” feel compromised in this fashion. Unfolding over a faintly indulgent but never dull two hours, this is a rare children’s entertainment that isn’t afraid to perplex kids as much as it enchants them, down to a coda that prompts a certain level of junior existential contemplation (not to mention a mournful tear or two) at the notion of a dead insect in a matchbox coffin in a boy’s wooden — but very real — heart. It’s a vivid, lavish stroke of weirdness, better seen than described. “Pinocchio” always has been.”
Pinocchio will be available to watch on Netflix in December.