Musical extravaganzas seem to be a popular must-have at the cinema these past several years. They’ve alternated from sweet and sassy to poignant and purposeful. In this film, Disney manages to strike the middle ground; it’s both comedic and bittersweet. When first learning of Into the Woods, there’s two things I didn’t realize. One being that this is a popular stage production.
Into the Woods (2014) Film Review
Once upon a time in a small village at the edge of the woods there lives five strangers. In this village is a young maiden ill-treated by her Stepmother (Christine Baranski); a girl who wears a cape red as blood; a childless baker and his wife; and a young, curious boy named Jack. The one thing they have in common is the wishes their hearts desire most. Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) desperately wants one magical night at the palace. Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is on her way to visit her grandmother with warnings not to stray from the path. First though, she makes a stop to get some sweets at the bakery.
The baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) hope each day for a child. Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) lives with his stern mother who is fed up with life. Her tolerance ends today when she sends Jack on an errand. Normalcy is about to end for them all.
This story may start with once upon a time… but to reach a happy ending, these strangers are about to form alliances they never expected.
Wow. I’m not sure where to begin with Disney’s latest blockbuster. (And all without giving away spoilers.) There’s certainly lots of spoilers for this one, and unusual for me, I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled for this nearly two-hour spectacular. When the film opens, it’s on a grand scale with a musical number, and a narrator introduces us to the main players. What strikes me most isn’t the voices or the production itself, it’s the comedy! I really did not expect this approach to the material. Not knowing much about the stage version, I guess my assumptions were based on the promotional spots which didn’t come off the way the set up does. The script really is quite entertaining, and this is a nice offset considering everything else that goes sideways.
If you like me, did any reading about Into the Woods, it informs us that in its original form, this story is raunchy, which is why Disney omits some song numbers and had to change the format in places. Going into it eyes wide open, it’s not hard to see where some of those issues crop up. There’s a number with the Wolf and Red Riding Hood that’s on the verge of being “inappropriate” (and does wander into the territory a bit). Then another moment nearer the end leaves us stumped, and wondering how we misjudged characters. That being said, I really don’t think much of anything dampens the experience of seeing this on the big screen. The vocals and performances are memorable and for once, the songs don’t run together, which is a huge musical pet peeve of mine.
Speaking strictly of the production and sets, this film is glorious. Rob Marshall’s vision exceeds expectations; more so since he uses green screens as little as possible. It shows! The lifelike sets and lack of special effects (or a lack in the sense of extensive use) makes Into the Woods a standout in the world of fantasy. The woods set is appropriately creepy and beautiful, as is the work of an Oscar-winning costume designer (Colleen Atwood), and an all-star cast (who are brilliant – even the actor and vocal newbies), this film has enough magic to set the perfect atmospheric stage. Really, I’m unable to lay any faults at its door.
This wouldn’t be a thorough gush if I didn’t say something.; Into the Woods is not an old-fashioned fairytale. For those of you who don’t like spoilers, I’m sorry, but… I do have to say this. There is something unusual about how this story plays out and though it tosses our view of fairytales out the door, I say bravo! The story misplaces story cues (on purpose) and this is partially where the fun comes in. Early in the film, it’s almost as if the script is full of satire and it knows just how goofy it’s being. (Not the hilarious musical number, ‘Agony’ with Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen.) The second half of the unconventional is to make sure nothing about this is a “happily ever after” sort of tale. Truthfully, it succeeds… or at least in the traditional sense.
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I saw this with my mom and aunt, and between the three of us, we have very different opinions of the film. My mom and aunt don’t care for the end (to an extent). As a whole picture, my aunt doesn’t love the movie; I adore it and my mom fall somewhere in between. The ending can be what you make of it. I chose to see it in its rosier glow whereas some people may not. As I give myself time to process the film, the greatest aspect of it is really its message. I admire that Disney doesn’t give us a stereotypical fairytale. This one is darker, and most impressive, it imprints a lesson.
Purposeful or not, there is something more to this movie than a pretty picture. In the closing credits, it leaves us a message: no matter our wishes, if we strike a bargain to obtain them, they won’t come without a price.‘Into the Woods’: A #Fairytale Mashup Musical Extravaganza. A review of the 2014 Disney film with an all-star cast. #Disney #Movies #PeriodDrama #Musical #IntotheWoods Click To Tweet
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You can find Into the Woods (2014) digitally yon Amazon Video
Content: PG, this film shies away from anything graphic [there are a number of deaths, which happen off-screen] or overly suggestive. One musical number shows the wolf wanting (to eat) Red Riding Hood as he croons about her innocence and “flesh.” A married woman almost runs away with another man; they kiss.