Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, your place on the Avocado to discuss films with your fellow commenters. Want to make a recommendation? Looking for recommendations? Want to share your opinions of movies, both new and classic? Did you partake of $3 movie weekend? If so, what movie did you see for three George Washingtons?
This week, there are not strings to hold Robert Zemeckis down. He teams up with frequent collaborator Tom Hanks to direct the latest Disney live-action remake, Pinocchio.
The movie is going directly to Disney Plus. This was after the Chip N Dale movie took a swipe at his mocap attempts in the early 2000’s. Harsh, Disney Plus. The man has directed some straight up classics, and he deserves better.
For as many classics that Zemeckis has directed, he feels strangely underrated. He’s a visual effects master and an efficient storyteller. It could be that the effects are often so flashy that it overshadows Zemecki’s other talents. Without Zemeckis, we wouldn’t have the Back to the Future trilogy. We may have had a Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but either the effects wouldn’t have been magical, or the characters so well defined.
His early career is defined by adventure comedies. Zemeckis also brought back the screwball romance with Romancing the Stone. He also directed the dark comedy Death Becomes Her, which rather shocked the world that Meryl Streep could be funny. Both are also a great example of Zemecki’s breezy plotting, which crams a ton of detail in their fairly short run times.
The next stage of Zemecki’s career would see him pursuing Oscar gold. After his win with Forrest Gump, Zemeckis would suddenly turn somber. He would have Jodie Foster pursue extraterrestrial live in my Contact. He would team up with Tom Hanks again, who would give a riveting one-man performance in Cast Away. Zemeckis would turn to serious-minded dramas later in his career: from the Denzel Washington drama about a drunk pilot in Flight to the Brad Pitt World War II espionage film Allied to the massive miscalculation about a doll-obsessed man in Welcome to Marwen.
But this was after Zemeckis took his boldest and weirdest gamble yet. In the early 2000’s, Zemeckis said he was done directing live action films. After all, the future was in films where all the actors were rendered in CGI. Hence, he directed three movies that never, ever leave the uncanny valley. The Polar Express saw Zemeckis team up with Tom Hanks where Hanks motion captures everyone. Next, he teams up with Neil Gaiman to direct Beowulf, an animated film for ADULTS. And lest you forget it, Angelina Jolie is in it as a naked CGI woman.
And then there’s A Christmas Carol. A friend tried to sell me on the film by being the most accurate depiction of the story he’s ever seen. Well, I’ve experienced bits and pieces of the film, and what little I’ve seen of it is so unpleasant that I can’t see myself forcing to finish it. I’ll stick with a live action Albert Finney, thanks.
When you look back at that career though — practical effects, pioneering CGI, Tom Hanks — you can see that Pinocchio is right in this guy’s wheelhouse.
Bonus prompt: What’s your favorite Robert Zemeckis film?