Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For Reels: Into the Woods review

All will come to a happy end...right?
Note: I have not seen the musical, so I will make no comment on how faithful the film is to the original stage musical.

I think its safe to say we are all familiar with the classic fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk. Its not uncommon for people to put their own spin on these classic tales. Stephen Sondheim, a legend in the world of musical theatre, combined the tales mentioned above into the hit musical Into the Woods. 28 years after the musical’s debut, Disney has adapted it into a feature film.

The film takes place in a fantasy kingdom, home to many fairy tale characters. A baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt respectively) wish to have a child, but cannot due to a curse placed on their home many years ago. A witch (Meryl Streep) offers to lift the curse if they can bring her four items: a red hood, a white cow, a golden slipper, and a lock of yellow hair. Thier quest leads them to interact with other fairy tale characters, including Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and Prince Charming (Chris Pine). All get their happy endings at first, but things really get interesting during the second act, when characters start facing consequences not seen in the original stories.

If I were to pick one word to describe this film, it would be “sincere”. Both the acting and the singing were very well done, being both sincere and emotional. Both dialogue and song blend very well, and neither clash with each other; no song feels forced or shoehorned in. Everything about the film feels natural, down to the movement of the individual characters.

Of course, a musical wouldn’t be complete with actual musical numbers, and each and every one is great. The scenes are well shot and coordinated, and are wonderfully sung. The songs themselves are very melodious and pleasant to listen to. Not one song feels forced, which goes hand and hand with the film’s sincerity.

I have little to say against the film. Personally, I wanted to see more of Rapunzel; she basically disappears halfway through the film. Other than that, Into the Woods is a fantastic film that must be seen.

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