Thursday, December 25, 2014
Into the Woods review; an unexpected treat
Into the Woods snuck under the radar for me this year. The film is actually based on a play by the same name. It tells the crossing stories of some of our favorite fairy tales; such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, and an original story involving two childless bakers. The director and cast of the film are truly A-listers. Rob Marshall has a number of hits under his belt, and is an Academy Award nominee (Chicago). The movie stars Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden and Chris Pine. Need anymore reasons to watch this Disney musical? I think not... let's go!
What I liked about the film:
Meryl Streep... at this point in her career do I really need to tell you how amazing she is, in EVERYTHING? She's terrific as the witch with more to her than meets the eye. Johnny Depp has a small, but great role as the big bad wolf. I hate to say this, but I'm almost glad he only had a small role; rather than the movie turning into the Johnny Depp Show. He does well and even sings in the film.
James Corden and Emily Blunt play the bakers and they're great. Corden is more well known in England, but has done some work here in the states as well. And Emily Blunt is so good in the movie. Her character has so many different aspects to her. She's smart, curious, frightened, etc., and Blunt plays it beautifully. Also great in the film is Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. We knew Kendrick could sing after her role in Pitch Perfect, but she does more than sing in this movie. She has some funny lines and balances the character with some much needed heart (I'll talk about this later).
I've saved the best for last people... Chris Pine is the best I've EVER seen him in this film. He plays Cinderella's Prince Charming and is bloody fantastic in the film! He is a part of the most memorable song in the film, 'Agony'. I don't want to spoil anything, but Pine plays the character with such douchebaggery that you can't help but fall in love with him. Seriously, Pine's performance alone is worth the price of admission.
Smart and Clever
What I didn't like about the film:
Unfortunately, there are a few glaring issues with the film. This first one is not as big of a deal, but I feel it's an important one. The movie feels like, well, a play. At the time I watched the movie, I didn't know it was based on a play. But I remember sitting in the theater thinking to myself, 'this would be really good onstage'. There are a few scenes during Into the Woods that left me feeling claustrophobic, with all the major characters in such a confined space. To be fair, the Production Designer, Dennis Gassner did a great job with the sets.
The movie's greatest weakness is it's pacing. It has to be an incredibly difficult task to adapt a two-part play, into a three-act film. The pacing is so off, it pulled me out of the movie, several times. The singing is fantastic, but the scenes connecting the musical numbers just weren't up to par.
An Unexpected Treat