Into the Woods – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Into the WoodsInto the Woods – 4/5 – Musicals; they are the most unique kind of films you can watch.  What it boils down to is that musicals don’t take the typical quips and progression that you see in a standard movie.  In translation, they go from being ‘on stage’ to being ‘on film’.  That means they need to adapt/adjust and modify for the big screen.  Doing this will have some things get lost in translation, but at times the added elements of ‘visuals, music and fantastical allure’ helps create something of a spectacular feat.  Into the Woods is a film of multiple fairy tales, which is entertaining and wonderful to see. With some minor hiccups of predictability, what you get is a human tale of one Baker and his Wife, and a purpose that all will find real in the end.

Premise: A modern twist of the Brother’s Grim Fairy tale, placing four iconic fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel) into a story involving a Baker, his wife, and a curse.

The cast is a huge list of known names and legendary talent.  In it, you have as followed:

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella

Daniel Huttlestone as Jack

James Corden as the Baker

Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife

Christine Baranski as the Stepmother

Tammy Blanchard as Florinda

Lucy Punch as Lucinda

Tracey Ullman as Jack’s Mother

Lilla Crawford as Red Riding Hood

Meryl Streep as the Witch

Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel

Johnny Depp as the Wolf

Chris Pine as the Prince

There are many others but these are the most notable characters for the story.  As a whole, this group of individuals does a great job in providing an ‘escape’ of sorts into this unique fantastical realm.   There is a lot to be said about the group, but can only be describe within each individualistic trait.  Each character providers an added ‘color’ to the ‘rainbow’ created in this film, creating stand out individuals for the film.  The unusual interactions with each other create a different twist to the ‘fairy tale’ feeling; where there are more raw moments of heart, vigor and  happily but also cheesy scenarios (in a good way).  When the cast breaks in full on musical, it is awesome how well its choreographed, as well as the depth of its emotional purpose.  There are situations when the music is upbeat on a standard level, but when you get the emotional quips you get a sense of strong themes about family, love, honor and living.   At the heart and leading this cast (with her great acting combined with singing) is Meryl Streep as the Witch.  She is a force to be reckoned with in this film.  She gives a very strong performance.  With the raw veracity in her acting, she combs it seamlessly in the singing.  Her suave is undeniable, as she is visceral, charming and fanciful on screen.

The direction of this film is unique to any kind of real storytelling.  With the added depth of being a musical, it places that experience while combining it with some iconic fairy tales.  They are:


Little Red Riding Hood


Jack and the Beanstalk

The tales are neatly interwoven with the main story: a Baker and his wife wish to have a family, but must break the curse placed on them by the Witch long ago.  She tasks them to find four items that will reverse the curse.  Within the interweaving of all the stories with this main premise, you get a great mixture of musical quips with an emotionally driven human tale.  This happens with precise storytelling, which also falls within the Disney mantra of cheesy singing, iconic situations as well as welcoming ‘fanatical’ escapism.  With so much involved, the pace does equate.  The direction takes the story at a very quicken pace, leaving some character development to the wayside.  At the same time, there really isn’t a need for a lot of characterization outside of the Baker, his wife and the Witch because the other ‘stories’ are common to everyone.  In that acceptable fact, the film doesn’t let off the pedal, staying on a fast track that combines ‘dialogue setup’ with ‘musical score’.  As the film goes along, each decision everyone makes has a domino effect, where the conveniences eventually lead to a ‘twist’ to the predictable happily ever after mantra.  When the film begins to turn from its ‘happily ever after’ ploy, this is when the twist and unconventional setups start to interact deeply, showing a harden human tale that is molded in the fantasy realm.  This leads to darker and dire situations, where the musical aspect becomes more endearing, and certain events start to feel human.  With that added depth, you get to see the ‘heart’ of the tale of the Baker and his Wife, and how obvious consequences have an both a positive and negative effect.  Once the climax hits, its befitting of the circumstance, but also a twist that shows that there is another side to happily ever after.

The visuals of the film are amazing.  The allure of weaving all these fairy tales creates a place that is aesthetically pleasing but also different.  In the realm of these characters, as an audience member, you will experience fun, laughter and joy for all involved.  From the creation of the village, the woods and everything in between, it is colorful, bombastic but grounded.  The music is what you would expect for any kind of musical with a Disney flavor.  It has a happily/cheesy kind of tone, one where the median is funny but welcoming at the same time.  The music is complimentary to the musical parts, helping you feel the emotions, highs and lows.

Into the Woods is a tale that could of got lost in its fanatical elements, but with a quick pace and some unexpected twist, it is something more.  The human element that is woven into these fairy tales creates an experience that is unique among any other musical and fantasy film.  If you’re a fan of Musicals or the actors/actress involved, definitely check it out.  It is a great outing for the family, and any Disney fan out there.

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