It’s not perplexing why Disney wants to continually mine its back catalogue, having seen the box office success of “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book.” The more interesting feat in is finding a new story through character reinvention. Case in point: Emma Stone’s brilliant “Cruella” adaptation.

Despite the above, Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis delivers a stale revival that lacks heart, dethroning Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” as the worst use of Disney dollars aimed at revitalizing its properties.

The production spent months in London on a freezing sound stage in order to bring this utterly uninspired retelling to life. It’s no secret that Zemeckis was constantly frustrated on set, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall for his animated feature. Frequent collaborator Tom Hanks was able to escape after only a few weeks on the London set, but he didn’t do himself any favors as Geppetto. Much like in Warner Bros’ “Elvis,” Tom Hanks delivers a two-dimensional supporting performance.

Zemeckis’ film doesn’t hold a candle to the original Disney animated feature from 1940. It’s a movie caught between being real and fantasy, faltering in comparison to the original animated movie, and only proving to be garish, unlikable, and off-putting.

If you’re going to resurrect this story, at least do something different, more challenging, or more relevant to our modern culture, because Disney already made an old-fashioned, family friendly version, and just making a worse version of that is not exactly going to make that Pinocchio IP more valuable. It’s a hard pass, even if you’re streaming from the comfort of your own home.

Letter Grade: F

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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