‘Into The Woods’ is a beautiful story of friendship, love and loss; weaving together some of the world’s most iconic fairytales. Based off of the Broadway musical, director Robert Marshall (‘Chicago’ & ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’) and Disney brings this tale to life, assembling an ensemble cast and breathtaking music. Even though this film has fantastic visuals, acting and music, ‘Into The Woods still seems to fall a bit short. With many false endings and an almost yawn worthy opening number, I found myself wishing that the movie would be over almost as soon as it started.
“Into The Woods’ brings together the tales of Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel through a search for some of their possessions. The people searching for these objects are a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) as to break a curse placed on his family by a witch (Meryl Streep).
After the baker’s father steals some magic beans from the witch’s garden, a curse falls upon the beautiful witch, turning her ugly. The witch seeks revenge by demanding the next child born to the family but takes it one step further by making it impossible for the baker’s bloodline to have children.
The witch gives the baker and his wife the task of retrieving a red cape, a white cow, a gold shoe and hair that is as yellow as corn. In return, she will lift the curse placed upon the family and give them a child.
The film follows many of the traditional plots of the original fairy tales such as Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) falling in love with a prince and Little Red Riding Hood traveling to her grandmother’s house. There are many twists thrown into the mix that give each fairytale a fresh feeling to it. They also were able to weave these characters plots together, making the plot feel cohesive.
The film also throws in a lot of humor. One of the funniest parts was when both of the prince’s (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) meet by a stream to talk about their damsels Cinderella and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy). By “talk”, I really mean one of the best musical numbers in the movie entitled ‘Agony’. A lot of dramatic flair, water splashing and shirt ripping ensue and it ended up being my favorite part of the movie because of how funny it was.
Obviously since this is a musical, there were a ton of musical numbers, good and not-so-good. Some of my favorites were done to the songs ‘It Takes Two’, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Last Midnight’, ‘No One Is Alone’ and obviously ‘Agony’.
‘Stay With Me’ is particularly notable because this is the song that is featured in the trailer and the melody is used throughout the film’s other songs. This song is featured in the scene when the witch discovers that her adoptive/stolen daughter Rapunzel is being visited by a prince. The scene is very emotional and moving. It is my favorite song from the musical.
In terms of the not so good musical numbers, the one that sticks out most is the opening number. It was very long (14 and a half minutes according to the soundtrack) and so much happens in it. The point of it is to show what all the characters wish for out of life and set up the main plot. I just didn’t like the song and it was a lot of jumping around. Also these is a number between Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (Johnny Depp) which was very rapey and creepy.
I didn’t look up the runtime (~2 Hours) of the film before I saw it which was a mistake on my part. There are many times in the movie when you think it is about to end but keeps on going and going. You first think that the movie is going to be quite short because so much happens in the opening number that there isn’t much left to accomplish. Then once they have found all the items for the witch, everyone gathers at the wedding of Cinderella and the Prince which seems like a natural ending and is narrated like one. Then a giant attacks the kingdom and several people die over the next 45 minutes. Even when the movie did end and the credits started to roll, I wasn’t completely convinced it was over. In fact, it may still be playing as I type this.
To end on a good note, the acting in the film was some of the best i have seen in a long, long time. Both of the young actors Lilly Crawford who plays Little Red Riding Hood and Daniel Huttlestone who plays Jack are very good. Emily Blunt’s performance in the film is very deserving of that Golden Globe nomination. She is funny, sad, happy, motherly, sexy, and mischievous throughout the movie and does each of them very convincingly.
I’m going to call this now, Anna Kendrick is going to win an Oscar one day. She is such as good actress and has an amazing voice! I can’t wait to see her in next year’s ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ and ‘The Last Five Years’ which is also based off of a Broadway musical.
Speaking of Oscars, Meryl Streep. She could play a rock in the background of the dumbest movie ever and still be worthy of every accolade ever. She was evil but was able to humanize the witch by doing such an amazing job of portraying the motherly side of her character. She is just perfect, end of story.
‘Into The Woods’ was released on December 25, 2014 and stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Daniel Huttlestone and Lilly Crawford. The film is directed by Rob Marshall.