Film Review – Into the Woods

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

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My mom and I wanted to see Into the Woods because it not only looked amazing, it also had an incredible cast. Honestly, they had me at Meryl Streep but Emily Blunt and Johnny Depp were also a lovely bonus to draw me in. So, we went to see it a few weeks ago and you know, we just weren’t that impressed. I mean, of course there were some amazing things about this film. The performances of those mentioned above, for one thing, were phenomenal, but that was hardly a surprise given the caliber of their individual talents. The cinematography was also done very well and everything was beautiful, capturing the charm of beloved fairy tales along with the darkness of the original Brothers Grimm stories. But those things just weren’t enough to keep my attention, or my mother’s…she actually dozed off twice. I’m not saying that this movie was terrible, because like I’ve already said, there were some really great things about it, but for the most part I just didn’t enjoy it. Things felt too bizarre for me and I suppose, given my personal experience with these tales, I expected a lighter touch similar to the Disney films we all know and love.

Having said that, I am completely aware that the Grimm Fairy Tales weren’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I also know that Disney is responsible for making them that way and that has given most of us a specific set of expectations where remakes are concerned. Take Cinderella, for example. The majority of people know the Disney version where she loses her glass slipper but in this film she loses a solid gold one. The evil stepmother also doesn’t cut her daughter’s toes and heels off in the cartoon to get the shoe to fit and that part of this movie made me cringe. While I realize that this is based upon the theater production of Into the Woods and that is a translation (of sorts) of the Grimm tales, is it truly necessary to add such darkness to a film adaptation that was mainly targeted toward children? Now I am not saying that I am opposed to the macabre, but If they had to go down this dark path I would have at least preferred Johnny Depp’s character of the Wolf to be given a larger role instead of having Little Red Riding Hood escape the depths of his belly. I guess that is a bit horrible to say but the actress who played Red was so annoying and eliminating her early on would have pleased me. But perhaps that is too dark, cutting off body parts is much more appropriate.

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I also disliked the story of Rapunzel and her prince because not only was the acting by both horrible, it just felt like a ridiculous waste of time to put them into this whole mess. Even when that prince sings with Chris Pine (CInderella’s Prince Charming), it only proved that Pine is the better actor. A fact that was pretty embarrassing for the other fellow. Also, when Cinderella and Charming finally get married and the whole town is there to celebrate, it truly felt as if things were wrapping up. This would have been a perfect place to end, especially since all of the characters are there and they’ve all gotten what they wanted. Unfortunately, another half hour followed and essentially ripped apart every single happy moment I thought the characters had found. People died, land was destroyed, marriages were torn apart, children were orphaned, and so on. It was just one horrible thing after another.

On a brighter note, (I know, I’m shocked that I have anything positive to say too) Chris Pine was very entertaining as Charming. He wasn’t a good guy, as his intentions toward Cinderella were more about getting the girl rather than loving her once he did, but he was completely honest about who he was. He even said to Cinderella at one point, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” which cracked me up and made me forgive his douchebaggery. Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep were also perfection, as I mentioned in the beginning. Without either of these women, I probably would’ve left the theater long before it ended. I know that is harsh but they truly were the best characters, which is why both are up for awards for their individual performances. Daniel Huttlestone, who my mom and I fell in love with when we saw Les Miserables, was an adorable addition as well, along with Tracey Ullman as his mother. And finally, Stephen Sondheim’s music was incredible, but that is no surprise.

At the end of the day, I know that a lot of people loved this movie, in fact a friend of mine went right out and bought the soundtrack. But like I said in the beginning, I just wasn’t that impressed overall, regardless of how many things I did like about it. I’ve realized that I can appreciate the good qualities while knowing that I will never have any desire to see this movie again, and I am completely okay with that.

 

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