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‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ entertaining, full of beautiful visuals

Guillermo del Toro has one of the most easily identifiable styles in modern big-budget filmmaking. His ability to conjure imagery that is at once repulsive and beautiful is immediately recognizable, whether he’s working with fairy tales (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), comic book stories (“Hellboy” and “Blade 2”) or sci-fi spectacles where giant mechs punch massive alien monsters in the heads (“Pacific Rim”).
That sensibility for making the macabre and the quirky beautiful is all over “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” recently released by Netflix.
Set in Italy in the 1930s, “Pinocchio” tells the story of Geppetto (David Bradley), an old woodcarver who misses the son he lost to the war. Overcome with grief, Geppetto builds a life-size boy puppet named Pinocchio (Gregory Mann), who is brought to life by wood sprite magic.
Geppetto tries to get Pinocchio to be an obedient boy and sends him to school, but the puppet gets abducted by the greedy carnival owner, Count Volpe (Christoph Waltz). After learning about the abduction, Geppetto sets out on a quest to find Pinocchio. Also, a talking cricket with the voice of Ewan McGregor is involved.
This movie isn’t exactly aimed at very young kids. It embraces some of the original story’s darker elements, and themes of death and loss run throughout the film. There are also some creepy-looking characters and settings that may cause some nightmares.
But the darker elements are exactly why del Toro, who served as producer, cowriter and codirector on “Pinocchio,” is such a great fit for this story. He excels at telling tales of magic and knows how to render creepy imagery in a way that’s still appealing. The black rabbits in the afterlife are the perfect example of this. They’re a little offputting, but they’re also comical.

Still from ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.’
Beyond the morbid scene, “Pinocchio” is a rich film visually. Part of the credit for this has to go to the use of stop-motion animation. Stop-motion can be as stylized or cartoonish as any other form of animation, but the filmmakers are photographing actual, physical objects. That endows stop-motion characters with an extra dollop of magic, since it’s a real object moving instead of drawings or pixels.
The animators got plenty of help bringing these characters to life from the voice actors. Bradley brings a weary maturity to Geppetto, and Mann infuses Pinocchio with a mixture of mischief and innocence. But McGregor steals the show as Cricket, a writer looking for a place to write his magnum opus, only to get roped into Geppetto and Pinocchio’s story.
The film has a lot to say about war, fascism, death and loss. It comments on father-son relationships, wringing the most out of your life, and the fact that time will eventually tick down for all of us. But the movie doesn’t beat you over the head with messaging or get so heavy that it stops being fun. The themes enrich the experience, but they don’t sink “Pinocchio.”
I don’t have too much to complain about with “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” which is especially surprising as it’s a movie made for Netflix. (You know what they say about movies made for Netflix …) It’s got some good laughs, it’s very pretty to look at and it’s got something to say about some relatable themes. Fans of del Toro or stop-motion animation should be pretty happy with this one.
”Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is currently available to stream on Netflix.
The post ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ entertaining, full of beautiful visuals appeared first on East Idaho News.

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