Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022) Review

Happy New Year’s Eve! Was going to end on a couple of horror movie reviews this year but quickly wrote the below for my Letterboxd so I guess I’ll end on this one instead since it’s one of the better movies I saw in 2022… 🙂

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro & Mark Gustafson

Based on The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi

Starring: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Loosely based on the 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and strongly influenced by Gris Grimly’s illustrations for a 2002 edition of the book, it reimagines the story of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who comes to life as the son of his carver Geppetto, as “a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations, learning the true meaning of life” set in Fascist Italy during the interwar period and World War II.

My Opinion:

This was a very good adaptation with stunning stop-motion animation. I like the tale of Pinocchio & enjoyed getting much more of a story here than Disney gave us plus this film has a lot more heart & emotion than recent Disney movies & certainly much more than their live action Tom Hanks Pinocchio. But I’m probably in the minority in still liking Disney’s 1940 version the most as nothing can top the old Disney classics & songs such as When You Wish Upon A Star for me. With so many current movies being new adaptations or reboots or sequels of existing stories I already know, I get a little bored. I don’t want to take away from how good Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio is, though. It’s great! I just always crave new-to-me stories.

Besides the amazing animation & strong characters, this also had a great main theme to its score which stayed with me for days & a good score always gives a movie bonus points for me. Also appreciated the del Toro style in so much of this, especially The Wood Sprite & her sister Death as they reminded me the most of Pan’s Labyrinth (still brilliant & easily his best film). Also really liked the look of Pinocchio himself, which put the live-action Disney version to shame. At the moment I think I can only recall one song but that’s fine since you’re not gonna beat the Disney Pinocchio songs. I preferred that the songs in this were unobtrusive & didn’t take away from the emotion of the story. Leave the big musical numbers to Disney as they know their stuff on that.

Still trying to decide where I’ll place this in my 2022 movie release rankings but it should easily be in the top five. It won’t be an all-time favorite film of mine but it’s certainly one of the better movies released in the past few disappointing years.

My Rating: 8/10

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019) & The Addams Family (2019) Reviews

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! I realized I’ve reviewed no “scary” kids’ movies this October. Well, The Addams Family fits in with Halloween. I suppose I’ll squeeze in my review of Maleficent as well since she IS Disney’s best villain. She’d also make for a kickass Halloween costume…

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019)

Directed by Joachim Rønning

Based on Characters from: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty & La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Michelle Pfeiffer, Warwick Davis

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Roth Films

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting. I did actually quite like the first Maleficent (review HERE). However, I’m becoming more and more annoyed at all the pointless live action Disney films being made. It’s come to the point this year where I’ve decided to stop going to see the remakes as I don’t want to support them. I didn’t watch Aladdin or The Lion King. After Beauty And The Beast, I’d had enough. Leave the classics alone! But I don’t really mind when they do things like Maleficent. Is it yet another Disney cashgrab? Of course it is. But at least it’s a new story. It’s not taking an existing beloved Disney classic and making the EXACT same movie again but with real-life annoying actors like Emma Watson and none of the beauty or magic of the animated films.

Having said that, I have to admit that (along with Beauty And The Beast) Sleeping Beauty is probably my favorite Disney movie. I think it’s sadly extremely underrated due to Aurora herself being a dreadful bore. But its visuals are absolutely gorgeous, the music is fantastic, Maleficent is the coolest villain, and I adore those fairies. So you’d think that I’d not want it touched but, as the Maleficent movies have such a vastly different take on the story, I don’t see them as part of the same universe. Whereas I may not be able to watch the animated Beauty And The Beast again without picturing Emma Watson.

I think Angelina Jolie is great as Maleficent and her look is amazing. She’s probably a little too sexy in this, though. It’s a kids’ film! I think bored dads won’t complain when she’s suddenly wearing far less clothing than usual at one point (lots of leg on display). Damn. I wish I looked like that. I’d even take the wings & horns if I could look that sexy. I’m suddenly wondering if there’s creepy Fifty Shades-style Maleficent fan fiction out there (probably).

Plus we also get the gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer in this one, which I loved as I’m a fan. I’m now thinking I can finally talk my daughter into watching Ladyhawke with me as she’s seen Pfeiffer in a few other things recently (love that movie!). Anyway, Jolie & Pfeiffer are a lot of fun to watch together in this and both have that true “Hollywood star” screen presence. They make this movie better than it otherwise might have been with different actresses.

The story itself is fine. Is it predictable? Yes, but no more so than any Disney movie. That’s what you expect from a family Disney movie so there’s nothing wrong with that. Elle Fanning is good as Aurora and the relationship her character has with Maleficent continues to work surprisingly well. The three fairies continue to be annoying as hell but at least I was prepared to hate them this time around. As I love the animated fairies so much, I absolutely hated what they’d done with them in the first film. They’re obnoxious. That’s my only big complaint, though. And, again, it doesn’t ruin the animated film for me as I don’t see them as the same characters as they’re so different.

I also liked the addition of some very cutesy creatures but know that not everyone will go for weird, cutesy CGI creatures. Hey, it’s Disney – I’m fine with some cutesy stuff to balance out the stirrings of S&M Maleficent fantasies Jolie and her sexy new dark fairies have probably awakened in some viewers. Some viewers. Definitely not me. Nope. (Maybe). We also got Warwick Davis in this with a fairly decent amount of screen time compared to other roles of his. Yay! Love him. Prince Philip is a bit bland but, who cares? These movies focus more on the strong female characters plus it makes up for Aurora being the bland one in the animated film. The three female leads are truly what make this film, though. It’s otherwise just your usual Disney movie but the three main characters, especially Maleficent, are better than what we’ve had in any of the straightforward live-action copies.

My Rating: 7/10

The Addams Family (2019)

Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan

Based on Characters by Charles Addams

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An animated version of Charles Addams’ series of cartoons about a peculiar, ghoulish family.

My Opinion:

I went on about Maleficent for ages so I’ll keep this shorter as I don’t have a lot to say about this one anyway. This movie was fine. It was a very “cutesy” version of The Addams Family, which felt a bit odd as it still had the dark humor. I can’t quite figure out what ages they were targeting here. I think they made it too young this time around. The dark humor won’t work on the really young kids and the younger animated style won’t work on the slightly older kids, especially if they’re fans of the early 90’s films. And it especially won’t work for teenagers, unlike the 90’s movies which I believe had (and still has) teenage fans.

I was too young for the 60’s TV show (despite watching reruns of many old shows as a kid – I just never watched The Addams Family). Then I was slightly too old for the movies (late teens). So I missed out on the hype but I know that kids (now adults) of the right sort of ages in the early Nineties still adore those movies. I’ve watched them again recently with my daughter and she likes them a lot. I think they’ve aged really well and would easily gain a new generation of fans if they see them. I have a new appreciation for them as I can see the appeal for quite a wide range of ages, from probably age 8 or so up to adults. They were proper “family” movies. Morticia and Gomez are great adult characters (Anjelica Huston was perfection) and what teenager, Goth or not, doesn’t love Wednesday Addams? She’s loads of evil fun. She’s certainly my daughter’s favorite.

Luckily, this animated version does an okay job with Morticia and Wednesday. They’re still the best characters and I liked the teenage rebellion going on (loved the pink unicorn hairclip). Uncle Fester was fun and Cousin It was adorable (but making him a “Pimp Daddy”, although briefly kind of funny, will date the film). I just… I… I don’t know. I got some giggles out of this one. I love dark humor and like Wednesday always trying to kill her brother and thought her “noose hair” was cool. But does noose hair work in a very kiddie version of The Addams Family??

I just found the tone of this so confusing that it was difficult to fully enjoy it. There were very young kids at this one and the movie didn’t hold their attention at all, probably because they won’t have understood the humor. My daughter did like it but I think it’ll help that she’s in the very small age range who might like this one (I’d say between 8 & 11). It’s just a shame as The Addams Family is such a great creation and I don’t think this movie has done these kooky characters justice. I don’t think it has harmed the franchise, however. I just think they should’ve focused on making this version more enjoyable for all ages as there are now fans who are my daughter’s age, who are my age (almost) from the 1990s, as well as people who will have been fans since seeing the TV show when they were kids in the 1960s. I think they’ve really missed a trick this time as this version won’t attract a new generation of fans in the way the 90’s films managed to do so successfully.

My Rating: 6/10

It (2017) Review

Welcome to Day Three of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 tomorrow so I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m reviewing the recent It film.

It (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by the eponymous being, only to face their own personal demons in the process.

My Opinion:

Is it weird that I’m so happy that this film is kicking ass at the box office?? I just love it when one of King’s books actually gets a good film adaptation and, even better, when it gets a lot of really positive reviews. I did a list yesterday of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (this film was at number five if you don’t feel like clicking that link). I admitted in that list that, while I always watch & enjoy all adaptations of King’s work, some of the movies have been pretty damn awful. But then we occasionally get masterpieces like The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me to make up for the bad ones. It (the film – such a confusing title!) isn’t quite up there with the likes of those two but I’m very happy to say that it’s easily one of the better Stephen King movies of the many that have been made. Yes! I love when the movies do his novels justice.

You’ve all probably seen reviews by now that compare this to Stand By Me and that’s a very accurate description. Stand By Me with added horror, of course. Like that, this is a coming of age tale first and foremost and I’ve always loved a good coming of age tale. That’s why I’m actually a bit surprised that this film has done as well as it has as I can’t see it being loved by full-on “horror” fans. Pennywise the clown is a great creation but I have to say that I don’t find either this or the 1990 version scary. The book is a bit unsettling but I wouldn’t say that feeling fully translated to the films. I’ve never been one to get too scared by movies, though. As far as “creepy” goes, Kubrick’s The Shining certainly has this film (and pretty much every other horror film) beat. It’s a shame that King hates that adaptation – I think it’s one of the greatest horror films of all time.

I think the main difference between the 1990 It and the 2017 It is that Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the true star of the 1990 film while the kids are what make the 2017 version so good. I think this version has done things right in focusing more on the kids & their relationships with one another. I will always be fond of the 1990 film & prefer Curry’s Pennywise to Bill Skarsgård’s somewhat dull (and a little too funny-looking) Pennywise. It felt like Curry was truly having fun in the role & his Pennywise had far more personality. But… This story is about the kids. It’s about all kids who felt like “losers” when growing up. Pennywise shouldn’t really be stealing the show and I’m glad this version gets the balance right in making the kids the stars while also giving us just enough of the monster to keep the story interesting.

The kids all did a great job in this film. As has been said, It has a very Stranger Things feel to it. But of course it would since The Duffer Brothers wanted to make It but went on to instead make Stranger Things, which is meant to feel like King meets Spielberg. Plus It used one of the same actors from that show (Finn Wolfhard, who bizarrely looks like The Shining’s Shelley Duvall). I have to say that the girl playing Beverly (Sophia Lillis) was especially good. She’s like a young Amy Adams (which is a compliment as I love Adams). I’d be surprised if Lillis, as well as most of the rest of this young cast, doesn’t go on to become a big star. However, I’m so glad they AREN’T big stars yet as having a cast of relatively unknown actors was a huge plus for this movie (in my opinion, anyway). I loved not having the distraction of having seen them in a million other things.


I do have to admit that the time period this is set in (1989 into 1990) was another huge plus for me in a way that may not work as well for the current younger generation. Or maybe that doesn’t matter? I loved Stand By Me & 1990’s It even though those kids were living in the late 1950s. I suppose the coming of age dramas tend to transcend their time period as kids that age still go through all the same sort of emotions. Although I found it kind of hilarious/scary reading this article about how the film’s director had to start a “bicycle camp” to teach these pre/early teen actors how to ride bikes for the film(!!).

But oh how I loved seeing kids the same age as me in this movie’s ’89/’90 time period. Well, sort of… I was the age of the slightly older bullies back then. And, like the bullies, I was also a huge fan of Anthrax. Anthrax! There’s an Anthrax song in this movie!!! But I’ll come back to that at the end of this review – I just want to point out that I was more like the kids being bullied than the ones doing the bullying, even though I was a metalhead. 😉 And I had way too much fun seeing the movie marquees in the film’s background accurately portraying the movie releases of that time (god I’m a nerd). And I enjoyed the fact that I could almost hear a massive WHOOSH in the cinema as the New Kids On The Block jokes went right over the heads of those in the audience. Not that I liked NKOTB… Anthrax!!! Oh, and there are lots of fun Easter Eggs in this film so, if you’re a King fan, be on the lookout for them. And read the IMDb trivia for the movie afterwards – there’s loads of fascinating info there.

I think I should try to wrap this up now or I’ll just continue to ramble on for ages. I’m clearly very happy with this adaptation of a favorite book by my absolute favorite author. The kids are fantastic, their characters are likeable (so rare in horror movies), there’s some Anthrax (and a few other soundtrack gems I won’t mention to keep some surprises), there’s a creepy clown who isn’t quite as cool as Tim Curry but still does the job, there are Stephen King and 1989/1990 pop culture references, poor little brother Georgie is still a cutie pie, “that” controversial scene from the book is thankfully again left out of the film, Sophia Lillis has true star power, the kids are the stars instead of the clown, this sentence is really long, and last but not least: this movie doesn’t rely on cheap horror movie “jump scares”. That’s not to say there aren’t some jumpy moments but I was impressed with how well the horror was handled. I especially loved the slideshow scene, which references a fantastic King novella in Four Past Midnight that really gave me the creeps. It focuses on telling its story and on its characters then it focuses on the horror. That’s what makes this a good film instead of yet another bland & predictable horror movie with expendable characters. I can’t wait to see the next film now, which will feature the kids as adults. However, as with the scenes involving the grown-ups in the 1990 film, I think the second film won’t have the same kind of magic as this one. There’s a special sort of innocence in these coming of age films and the ones that really capture that feeling end up being all-time favorites for some people. I know Stand By Me was that way for me when I was growing up & I can see It being that way for a new generation.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Back to Anthrax, as promised**

As I said, I was a big Anthrax fan in my high school days and the fact that they had an Anthrax song & t-shirt in this movie filled me with such boring old-fart joy. I’ll assume they were used on purpose as they were always big fans of Stephen King and their songs so often referenced his work (such as The Stand in Among The Living & Misery in Misery Loves Company). I bet Anthrax are happy as f*%k that their song Antisocial is in a Stephen King film. And this was possibly my favorite song of theirs at the time, being the socially awkward misfit that I was (am). Anthrax!!! \m/ 🙂