Disney’s series of live-action remakes of animated films claims yet another classic, this time with 1940 film "Pinocchio." Unfortunately, the 2022 "Pinocchio" film continues not only Disney's remake trend, but also maintains the company's course of disappointing releases.
Despite having a cast led by Hollywood giant Tom Hanks and helmed by director Robert Zemeckis, the creative mind behind beloved films like "Back to the Future" and "Forrest Gump," "Pinocchio" falls flat on arrival with poor pacing, an inconsistent tone, and awkward CGI of the titular character.
With all this in mind, it's no wonder why the film has been heavily panned by viewers, even fans of the original animation.
One such fan includes Zeinab Elkhalifa, a junior majoring in psychology. Despite having grown up watching the 1940s classic, Elkhalifa was skeptical to watch the 2022 remake.
"The original is perfectly fine as is," Elkhalifa said. "I don't think that it's aged poorly in any way. Don't fix it if it ain't broken."
Likewise, Kareem Abdelkarim, a senior majoring in construction management and technology, was not a fan of the 2022 remake.
"The story is pretty much one-to-one with the original," Abdelkarim said. "Why would I want to experience the same story again when there are so many more out there that I haven't seen?"
It's not hard to see how such retellings can prove frustrating to viewers if little to no expansion of the original narrative occurs.
Gregory Bernstein, an associate professor at The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, discussed this at length when detailing the core issues with the Disney live-action remakes. To Bernstein, these films fail to be original or stand out in anyway, at best coming off as carbon copies of what came before.
"Back in the '70s or '80s, most of the highest grossing films were originals," Bernstein said. "In 2018, the vast majority are sequels, reboots, or remakes. Most of them are from Disney."
Hollywood's recent obsession with revivals and reboots seems indicative of a larger issue with cashing in on nostalgia. Disney in particular has been criticized for using audience nostalgia to drive new releases.
"How do we get out of this?" Bernstein said. "We stop going to see them. As long as these movies are making billions of dollars, why would they stop?"
Bernstein's assessment seems to be accurate. Despite the lukewarm reception to recent live-action remakes, such as "Pinocchio" and 2020's "Mulan," it does not seem that Disney has any plans to stop making them.
Earlier this month, Disney unveiled the trailer for "The Little Mermaid," a live-action remake of the 1989 animated film. The trailer has over 23 million views on YouTube.
The film studio has also announced fifteen more live-action remakes. This includes remakes of properties such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Lilo & Stitch."
For these films to succeed critically, not just financially, Disney needs to step back and ask itself: do these remakes add anything to the original story? Are the themes that resonated with audiences so strongly being expanded upon? Or are they just retelling the same plot but with updated visuals?
It might be too soon to make any calls, but if the studio doesn’t address the questions, these live-action remakes might start hitting Disney with diminishing returns.
"We need to remind Hollywood that an original film can do really well," Bernstein said. "Until then, nothing is going to change."
Edited by Claire van Doren, Logan Stanley and Grace Copperthite.
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Amir Imam is a reporter for the Echo, providing a unique lens for The State Press and ASU to view pop culture and media through. His articles have covered major projects being done by professors, news in pop culture, and events relevant to students.
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