Pinocchio: is live action a copy of the animated movie?

On Wednesday 7 September 2022, we had the chance to attend the preview of the film Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis. It was an opportunity for us to rediscover this masterpiece on the big screen! When we left the theatre, we were both perplexed and seduced by the fairy tale universe. A few days after its release on Disney +, it is time for us to tell you what we thought of it.

Warning! If you have not yet seen the film, this review contains some spoilers!

Technical Data

  • Direction: Robert Zemeckis
  • Music: Alan Silvestri
  • Production: États-Unis 
  • Release date: 8 September 2022 on Disney+.
  • Duration: 105 minutes

The plot

The plot follows the chronology of the animation classic fairly closely, so that the same stages are found in order. It deviates only slightly from the animated movie. Let’s analyse these few differences.

  • First of all, Blue Fairy appears only once to give life to the puppet. She will stay away from the rest of the events, probably to give Pinocchio the opportunity to solve his mistakes himself. It is an interesting reading and we understand the director’s choice to give more thickness to his main character. 
  • Then, Pinocchio makes it to school but is expelled by the teacher because he is not a ‘real boy’. This can be interpreted as Pinocchio’s heart being naturally good but society, full of temptations, will try to corrupt it.
  • Pinocchio himself gets out of Strombini’s cage, with the help of Jiminy who makes him lie in order to get the key. The message here is therefore somewhat strange, even cynical. Lying can get us out of tricky situations.
  • It is Gepetto who dies on the shore instead of Pinocchio. It is up to Pinocchio to give him back his life with one of his tears. This passage (which comes very close to the end of Tangled) is one of the least successful scenes in the film. We do not understand this inversion, except to accentuate the character’s generosity.
  • Pinocchio does not turn into a boy at the end of the film. The film makes it clear that the most important thing is what happens in the heart and not in the appearance. This is beautiful. But frustrating, it must be said!

Some points are certainly interesting but the film would have gained in depth if, instead of following the cartoon point by point, it had really detached itself and incorporated elements of the novel for example. The only nod to the book is the analysis of Pinocchio’s name (from pino: the pine tree, and occhio: the eyes) which is totally absent from the cartoon. 

Plot : 3/5 


Robert Zemeckis‘ direction offers some very nice shots and allows a successful immersion in the fairy tale’s universe. If we had to summarise, there are three atmospheres to remember. 

The exhibition scene presents Gepetto’s workshop as a house full of magic. The warm light contrasting with the dark exterior, the various clocks on the walls, the toys and music boxes all contribute to making this place a reassuring home. Many references to the Disney universe are made through the cuckoo clocks, which makes them one of the film’s comical elements.    

The second atmosphere is that of the Italian village. When Pinocchio crosses it on his way to school, we have plenty of time to admire the scenery with stone houses, fountains, arches and climbing plants. If we can distinguish two or three extra characters, it is a pity not to have deepened this village life. Indeed, the latter appears more like a ghost village (or a village in the South-East during the siesta) than a meeting place. 

Finally, the third memorable atmosphere is of course the Pleasure Island. This gigantic funfair, where everything appears disproportionate and disturbing, is very successful. 

Atmosphere: 4/5


The film obviously features the main characters from the cartoon such as:

  • Pinocchio: much more playful and endearing than in the animated version. On the other hand, the special effects do not do him justice, the material effects are poor and his eyes are not very expressive. 
  • Jiminy Cricket: one of the least well treated characters, both in writing and special effects. His role as a conscience is reduced to a pittance, so that he spends half the film getting out of an anchovy jar and the other half chasing Pinocchio.
  • Gepetto: played by Tom Hanks, is authentic and touching. However, the film only touches the surface of the character’s background.
  • Cleo and Figaro: The director has chosen to treat the two animals in CGI. Figaro is rather successful. On the other hand, Cleo is much less pretty than in the animated version. 
  • Honest John and Gideon: the two companions are very faithful to the animated movie and are one of the film’s comic assets.  
  • Stromboli and the Coachman : they are supposed to be the two big villains of the story. But we have to admit that they are less impressive than in the animated version.

The film also introduces two new characters, Sofia, a seagull and Sabrina, a dancer and her wooden ballerina. However, they will have no impact on the narrative of the film. 

Characters: 3/5

Songs and musics

The animated movie songs appear almost as they were in the film. Well sung, some of the lyrics, such as La vie d’artiste, have a special resonance for today’s children in the age of youtubers and influencers. 

There are new ones for Gepetto and Sabrina, among others. They were supposed to convey strong emotions, but did not have the desired impact. 

As for the film’s soundtrack by Alan Silvestri, it goes unnoticed and unfortunately does not leave an unforgettable memory in the viewer’s ears…   

Songs and musics: 2/5

In brief,

To conclude, Zemeckis’ Pinocchio is a faithful retranscription of the animated movie. Some points would have deserved to be deepened in order to give it more cachet and originality. Unfortunately, the good ideas, offering a different reading and interpretation, only scratch the surface before sinking into oblivion… Of course, we have a good time but it doesn’t bring anything more to the animated classic. 

Global rating: 12/20 

We likeWe like less
The magic inherent in the different atmospheres New characters that add nothing to the plot 
The character of Pinocchio, more daringThe cheap special effects, especially on Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket 
The new songs

See also our review of Buzz Lightyear!

Passionate about writing and the world of fairy tales to the point of making it the subject of my thesis, the magic of Disney touched my cradle and never left me. From the enchantment of the princesses to the most incredible adventures, it is this pinch of dreams that has imbued my pen. Today, surrounded by a team of experienced Disneyans, I am happy and honored to extend the magic to everyday life.