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Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann
Guillermo del Toro, Patrick McHale
A puppet magically comes to life and goes through a series of adventures.
Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 12/12/2023

• “Handcarved Cinema” Documentary
• “Directing Stop-Motion” Featurette
• “Eight Rules of Animation” Featurette
• “Guillermo del Toro and Farran Smith Nehme” Featurett
• “Crafting Pinocchio for MOMA” Featurette
• 2 Q&As
• Trailer
• Booklet
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: Criterion Collection [4K UHD] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 20, 2023)

More than eight decades after its release, Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio remains a towering cinematic achievement. If not the greatest animated film ever made, at the very least it sits on a short list of contenders.

The Disney version’s fame doesn’t it exists as the only filmed take on Collodi’s fable, of course. A silent Pinocchio materialized in 1911 and we’ve seen many others over the years.

Bizarrely, two separate major adaptations emerged in 2022, both from Oscar-winning filmmakers. Despite Tom Hanks as the star and Robert Zemeckis as director, a live-action Pinocchio received largely weak reviews.

On the other hand, a stop-motion Pinocchio co-written/co-directed by Guillermo del Toro enjoyed a much happier reception. Indeed, it went on to win the Oscar as 2022’s Best Animated Feature.

Set in Italy circa the 1930s, woodcarver Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) remains haunted by the death of his 10-year-old son Carlo (Gregory Mann) during World War I bombing run. While inebriated, Geppetto takes wood from Carlo’s grave and fashions it into a puppet that resembles a human boy.

Geppetto names the object “Pinocchio” and a magical Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) brings it to life. The Sprite sends an insect named Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor) to give Pinocchio (also Gregory Mann) advice, but gleeful with his new existence, the wooden boy usually goes his own a way, with choices that lead him through a mix of adventures.

I admit I went into del Toro’s Pinocchio with some apprehension, partly due to my love of the Disney film. Both as a storytelling achievement and a technical work, it really does continue to dazzle, so it becomes tough to view another version without potentially negative comparisons.

In addition, I find del Toro to be a filmmaker I admire more than I like. This occurs largely because I feel he tends to overthink his movies.

This means that he plans out every tiny detail to the nth degree, and as a result, I think his films can seem a bit soulless. Del Toro concerns himself so much with the minutiae that he can lose sight of the bigger picture.

That becomes less of an issue here, though missteps do occur. In particular, the decision to involve aspects of Italy’s 1930s government feels gratuitous and out of place.

Del Toro has long shown a focus on fascism, as that becomes a theme and undercurrent of some of his films. In this case, these elements just seem forced.

During much of Pinocchio, the nature of the fascist society acts as windowdressing, but eventually these domains turn into a more active story point. In particular, Pinocchio gets viewed as the ultimate soldier because he can’t die, and this sends him into military entanglements.

Rather than simply use Pinocchio as an unwitting propaganda pawn, the film also sends him and other youngsters off to learn how to fight. This sequence acts as a substitute for the Disney film’s Pleasure Island.

But not a logical or effective substitute. In the Disney tale, Pinocchio’s time at Pleasure Island acted to reinforce his need to follow a moral code, whereas here, del Toro simply uses the situation to remind us how dehumanizing fascism is.

In addition, the songs of the 2022 film won’t make anyone forget “When You Wish Upon a Star” – or any of the much more memorable tunes from the Disney flick. The music here tends to feel oddly generic, so these tracks fail to add much to the experience.

Despite these concerns, the 2022 Pinocchio still does a lot right – and though not as groundbreaking as the 1940 version, it also provides a stellar technical achievement. The artistry of the stop-motion animation consistently dazzles.

Del Toro’s eye for interesting visuals also helps Pinocchio. While without the deep layers of fantasy that appear in some of his movies, we still get an immersive universe with creative choices.

Pinocchio sticks with the basics of the source – and the Disney flick – but manages to walk its own path as well. The entire Carlo side of things comes new here, and del Toro finds other ways to make the narrative his and not just a rehash.

Expect strong voice performances, with the best probably from young Mann as the title role. Oddly, he seems unconvincing as Carlo, but he adds terrific life and spark to Pinocchio himself.

Do I think the del Toro Pinocchio turns into an animated classic? No, but it becomes an interesting version of the story and well worth a look.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect a terrific Dolby Vision presentation.

Virtually no softness impacted the image. At all times, the movie remained precise and well-defined.

I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws materialized either.

In terms of palette, Pinocchio usually favored a golden amber vibe, though the flick offered instances of reds and blues as well. The disc offered vivid, vibrant hues, and HDR gave them extra life and punch.

Blacks felt deep and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and concise. HDR brought added range and impact to whites and contrast. The movie consistently looked terrific.

Though not as impressive, the film’s Dolby Atmos audio also fared well. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie came with a largely engaging soundscape.

Occasional scenes featured action elements like planes, gunfire and explosions. Those became the most involving, as they used the spectrum in a compelling manner.

Most of the film opted for more subdued material, though the mix always maintained a nice sense of place and atmosphere. Score and songs also delivered solid stereo presence.

Audio quality appeared solid, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music felt warm and full.

Effects displayed strong range and impact, with tight highs and deep lows. While not quite “A”-level, this nonetheless wound up as a very appealing mix.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both offered identical Atmos audio.

The 4K’s Dolby Vision image worked better, though, as it showed superior delineation and colors. While the BD looked great, the 4K became a step up in quality.

No extras appear on the 4K disc, but we get a bunch on the included Blu-ray copy, where we open with a documentary called Handcarved Cinema. It spans 44 minutes, 42 seconds and offers info from co-writer/director Gullermo del Toro, director Mark Gustafson, character art and technical director Georgina Hayns, Shadowmachine producers Corey Campodonico and Alex Bulkley, production manager Sara Crowley, puppet development creative supervisors Ian Mackinnon and Peter Saunders, co-production designers Guy Davis and Curt Enderle, character sculpt lead Toby Froud, puppet production manager Jennifer Hammontree, lead facial animator Kim Slate, animation supervisor Brian Leif Hanson, lead animator Chuck Duke, editor Holly Klein, character designer Gris Grimsley, 1st AD and scheduler Jared Bumgarner, art director Robert DeSue, look development and lead landscape artist Caitlin Pashalek, landscape artist/set dresser Samantha Levy, scenic artist/set dresser Gillian Hunt, director of photography Frank Passingham, executive music supervisor Alexandre Desplat, music supervisor Steve Gizicki, and actors Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, David Bradley, and Gregory Mann.

“Cinema” covers the source and its adaptation, story/characters, puppet design/creation and animation, visual/set design, cinematography, cast and performances, music, and general thoughts. We find a little too much self-praise, but “Cinema” nonetheless packs a lot of good insights related to the technical choices and challenges.

Directing Stop-Motion spans 25 minutes, 43 seconds. It delivers notes from del Toro and Gustafson.

They discuss their youthful experiences with stop-motion animation as well as elements related to the movie’s puppets/animation and the work of the directors on projects of this sort. We find another good look at the challenges involved with the format.

For a glimpse of the movie’s pre-production, we go to Eight Rules of Animation. In this six-minute, 47-second clip, we see online footage of collaborations on the film. We get a fun glimpse of the hands-on work.

Next comes a chat between co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro and critic Farran Smith Nehme. Their conversation goes for 20 minutes, eight seconds.

This piece examines del Toro’s connection to the Pinocchio tale and his take on it. We find a fairly deep look at del Toro’s work and how it connects to his filmography.

Crafting Pinocchio for MOMA lasts seven minutes, 39 seconds. It features Museum of Modern Art curator Ron Magliozzi.

Here we get info about how the MOMA Pinocchio exhibit came together. The topic itself doesn’t seem fascinating, but we do get to see a lot of images of the movie’s work, so that gives it purpose.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find two separate Q&As. Moderated by Nail Gaiman, a 2022 panel spans 29 minutes, 22 seconds and involves del Toro and Gustafson.

From 2023, the second piece uses James Cameron as moderator. It fills 38 minutes, 10 seconds and includes del Toro, Gustafson, Davis, Desplat, and supervising sound editor/sound designer Scott Martin Gershin.

In the Gaiman Q&A, we hear about story, characters and themes, design choices, cast and performances, animation, and related areas. The Cameron piece covers co-direction, the animation crew, period details, story domains and development, music and sound, and themes.

Both programs work well, but the Cameron chat seems stronger, mainly because it expands the participants. While we get some material that repeats from elsewhere, the Q&As nonetheless add lots of good fresh info.

Finally, a booklet includes art, credits and essays from critic Matt Zoller Seitz and author Cornelia Funke. It adds value to the set.

Though it fails to make me forget the Disney version, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio offers a fairly charming take on the tale. While not all aspects of it work, it still musters a likable fable. The 4K UHD delivers excellent visuals, very good audio and a mix of bonus materials. Expect an enjoyable update on a classic.

To rate this film visit the Blu-ray of PINOCCHIO

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main