Guillermo del Toro’s “PINOCCHIO” is pure magic for the heart, and mind | MOVIE REVIEW

With artistry and imagination “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” arrives in theaters as one of the most stunningly original and pleasing films of 2022.

With a marvelous and inventive screenplay from Patrick McHale, Matthew Robbins, and del Toro, the tale is moved to 1900s Europe as fascism takes hold.

Woodworker Geppetto (David Bradley) is a beloved citizen in his small Italian town. As the film begins, he is living a good life with his ten year-old son Carlo (Gregory Mann), a sweet and dedicated son who makes his father proud and happy. Their life is full of love and peace.

After a tragedy where Carlo is killed in a church bombing, Geppetto becomes a man crippled by grief and alcohol; a sad ghost of the man he used to be.

In a state of despair, Geppetto carves a wooden boy named Pinocchio (also Mann). With the magic of a beautifully designed Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton), the wooden boy comes to life. Swinton also voices the visually alluring Death later in the film. It is in these two characters where the filmmaker continues his fascination with the beauty within the darkness, as both the Wood Sprite and Death are classic Guillermo del Toro creations.

Working with a master of the Claymation craft (Will Vinton), del Toro uses supreme and delicate skill to bring the film’s world (and the characters who inhabit it) to life.

The balance of the raw and realistic is constantly on display in every eye-popping frame and the audience will experience a painstakingly designed picture that is completely dazzling.

As Pinocchio becomes curious about the world (and his place in it), he longs to make his father proud by attending school.

On the way to his first day of education, Pinocchio is seduced by the dubious charms of Count Volpe (Christoph Waltz), who owns a traveling carnival. Tricking the wooden child into a Faustian pact, Volpe makes him a part of the show, robbing the naïve wooden boy of the wonderful adventures and discoveries of life.

Waltz revels in his role and delivers his voice work with devious fun.

Each cast member does fantastic work. Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Burn Gorman, Tim Blake Nelson, and especially Cate Blanchett bring a unique take to their characters.

As the heart of the film, Ewan McGregor is superb as Sebastian J. Cricket. “Jiminy” he is not, but the actor’s performance holds just as much magic, humor, and heart as the beloved incarnation from the 1940 Disney classic, voiced by Cliff Edwards. This is truly McGregor’s best work in years, and it is deserving of awards season recognition.

Taking place in Mussolini’s Italy, fascism is the great villain allowing for an artistic fusion between the harsh reality and the director’s patented mythical visions, making this Guillermo del Toro’s most striking and completely successful film since “Pan’s Labyrinth” from 2006.

Full of inventive imagery and heartfelt emotions, this could be del Toro’s masterwork. With visions of gut-wrenching pain and soulful passion, this is a film that will stay with you.

With their macabrely beautiful reimagining of the classic Carlo Collodi tale, directors Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson have created a mature, funny, charming and philosophical work that becomes something most of today’s animated films cannot achieve. Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” is pure magic for the heart, and mind.

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