Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Review: Into The Woods

2015 Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep

Into The Woods is the silver screen adaptation of the popular Broadway musical by the same name, it features a huge cast of big names and songs that will have you humming along to for days on end.

The story centres around the baker and the baker's wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt) being unable to have a child, they are in luck when the witch next door (Meryl Streep) visits them and offers to grant them their wish for a baby if they can locate 4 special items found within the woods. The pursuit of these items will lead the baker and his wife on quest that has them encounter all manner of other fairy tale house hold names. We are introduced early on to Cinderella, Jack and a rather silver tongued Red Riding Hood. Each of these characters has their own reason for also being in the woods and tells their story via musical number.

The songs in Into The Woods were extremely catchy and fitted each scene perfectly. I thought it was so clever how they could almost just describe what they were currently doing or a simple task but make it into a full on song and dance. When it came to the musical moments vocal talent was of a high standard, Anna Kendrick shined the most playing Cinderella and could really hit the high notes! It was also nice to hear James Corden and Emily Blunt's songs bounce of one another. James Corden did a nice job of narrating the whole film too.
There was a performance by Johnny Depp as Mr Wolf that I felt was completely wasted, appearing for barely 5 minutes on screen I couldn't help thinking what was the point? By far my favourite character was Red Riding Hood played by Lilla Crawford, she gave a brilliantly sarcastic and bratty edge to the role which gained the most laughs from me!

Into The Woods barrelled along quite nicely for about 2 thirds of the film, however there were strange dark scenes that really lowered the tone. It is nothing new for fairy tales to feature dark and sinister twists, but the speed and delivery of these moments had me scratching my head somewhat. It pulled me out of the film rather than making me feel sympathy or remorse for what had happened.
In the last third of the film a large new plot development occurred that felt to me like a complete after thought. I will not give too much away at this point but whole idea of the film being a musical went right out the window and erratic out of character choices were made left right and centre. This was such a shame because I had been enjoying the film so much up to that particular point. I wouldn't say it ruined the experience, it just changed the tone so rapidly it left me struggling to adjust to new style and pace. A possible trim by 15 minutes or so may have benefited it a great deal, a minor annoyance though in what was ultimately a really enjoyable and well thought out tale.

The Verdict

Into The Woods was a great coming together of classic fairy tale characters with good laughs and an impressive soundtrack to boot. There is a wide array of talent in this film and the director did well to make sure everyone had their own shining moment. Overall a very enjoyable 2 hours but a few puzzling inconsistencies in tone and a lacklustre third act held Into The Woods back from being truly magical.

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