Into The Woods
A musical. Fairy tales. Disney. That’s all I needed to know!
Having never seen the original Tony Award-winning Broadway musical by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, I had no idea what to expect.
The cast was flawless, possibly the one thing ‘Into The Woods’ cannot be faulted on. Emily Blunt gave a solid performance as The Baker’s Wife (who knew she could sing?) alongside James Cordon as The Baker, who easily matched her. Anna Kendrick was a good fit as Cinderella and the different take on her ball gown was stunning! The role and ‘look’ of The Wolf matched Johnny Depp creepily well. His screen-time is disappointingly short, but by the end of the interactions between him and Little Red Riding Hood, I was definitely ready to stop feeling so uncomfortable.
Meryl Streep as The Witch stole the show to some degree, being both terrifying and gorgeous (depending on which point of the movie you’re up to), but she had hot competition with Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince. Pine’s performance was very reminiscent of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast – comical, arrogant, handsome and disgustingly charming. The character can be summed up perfectly by his quote: “I was raised to be charming, not sincere”. His performance of ‘Agony’ with Rapunzel’s Prince (Billy Magnussen) was the funniest and most ridiculous scene I’ve witnessed for a long time!
Daniel Huttlestone as Jack and Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood were both surprisingly great. I usually find it very hard to enjoy child-actors in films (let alone musicals), but they were both amazing and in many scenes gave the most memorable performances.
Being a lover of the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales (the Disney versions too!), it was extremely fun to see the macabre twists to several of the classic tales played out on the big screen! Although certainly censored to a level suitable for Disney (sadly yes – any death or gore is all off-screen), the gruesome outcomes of certain situations are made very clear.
Now onto where Into The Woods failed to deliver…
One thing I expect from a musical, is music I will leave the theatre humming to myself. Into The Woods definitely does not deliver on this account and being a film which consists of 95% songs, it was a little disappointing.
The set design was impressive at first, but I found myself getting tired of seeing the same dingy, dark woods pretty soon after realising I’d never get to see anything else.
The plot was good but not strong. I left the theatre still uncertain about what motivated some of the pivotal characters and several situations which could have been easily remedied, were made unnecessarily complicated. Threading so many different stories into one plot is a tricky task and ‘Into the Woods’ hasn’t quite pulled it off convincingly.
The comedy and twists and turns the story takes does keep it interesting enough for me to consider it a decent watch.
Rating: PG Violence and coarse language.