In the Massive Book of Silly Ideas, I'd probably place a futuristic rendition of Pinocchio somewhere within the first three pages. But since Carlo Collodi's classic tale has been "in the public domain" for so many years, you're bound to find your share of "what were they thinking?" adaptations. Aside from the flashy (yet ultimately eyesore-ish) CGI animation, Pinocchio 3000 earns a spot right next to 1965's Pinocchio in Outer Space and Roberto Benigni's harrowingly misguided Pinocchio misfire from a few years back.
So now comes P3K, an international effort that brings together French, Spanish, and Canadian animators in an effort to turn everyone's favorite wooden boy into a new-fangled cyberkid.
Yes, this new Pinocchio is, of course, a robot, but very little else has changed from the story you're probably sick to death of by now: Pinocchio must learn the importance of truth, loyalty, and responsibility in a world full of bad influences, nasty villains, and confusing temptations. Only this time he's a ... robot.
Familar characters that have been robotized for this weird new movie are the villainous Scamboli (Malcolm McDowell), good fairy Cyberina (Whoopi Goldberg), and an obnoxious penguin butler called Spencer, a character I liked better as a cricket and when not voiced by Howie Mandel, as he is here.
Putting aside that the alterations made to the original tale are both cosmetic and irritating, and that the voice characterizations are lame (at best), that leaves only the visual splendor by which to judge Pinocchio 3000. And as a longtime fan of animation in general (with a demanding eye focused on the all-CG features), I'll gladly contend that this movie certainly looks pretty damn nifty.
Unfortunately I have the same problem with Pinocchio 3000 that I had with last year's Robots: Dazzling art design, colorful character models, and flashy animation techniques are only extra-impressive when they're backed by some real heart, wit, soul, or character. Much of Pinocchio 3000 feels like a collection of "in-between" scenes from an especially bizarre Xbox 360 game -- and I don't exactly mean that as a compliment.
Video: The anamorphic widescreen transfer is, I must admit, eye-poppingly colorful and really quite cool. On a purely visual scale, the DVD's a real treat. (Feel free to watch the flick on MUTE and I bet you'll like it more than I did.)
Audio: Dolby EX or DTS 6.1 English, with DD 2.0 Cantonese another option. Subtitles are available in English, Traditional Chinese, or Simplified Chinese.
Not a one.
The flick's got dazzling animation trickery to spare, but with a script this silly and a concept this goofy ... well, the animation better be pretty damn good.