Posted January 7, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews
 
 

Into The Woods Review


intohtewoods

If you go down to the woods today your sure of a big surprise. Well it isn’t every day that the Baker, Cinderella, Red Redding Hood and farm boy Jack find their paths colliding – but here they do in this adaptation of the musical for the same name.

In fairytale land a Witch (Meryl Streep) reveals to the Baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt) that she has put a curse on their house (which prevents them from conceiving a child) thanks to past misdeeds by the Baker’s father against the witch. But she is willing to lift the curse should they be willing to help her out. All she needs is for them to gather four special ingredients over the next few days and all shall be forgiven – and the Witch herself can then lift the aging curse that is upon her.

This leads the couple to seek out the items they need which crosses their paths with Cinderella, Jack, Red Riding Hood, a least a couple of charming princes and even Rapunzel. Each action falls like a domino effect – putting each characters well worn story into action through a series of encounters and all seems set to tie up in a pretty “happy ever after” looking bow.

But all is not as it may seem as this tale is not just concerned with how these tales tend to end as we know them, but goes on to show you the further consequence. Yes Into the Woods is about encounter and consequence beyond the atypical THE END which the film brilliantly fools you into thinking has just occurred. The film has actually only reached the end of the second act at this point and has a full third act yet to play out.

Did we also mention that this is a musical? Yes this is the all singing (and we mean ALL singing) version where there are plenty (and probably more than we’d care for) of songs for characters to indulge in – but even the dialogue in between is pontificated to an excruciating level at times.

The cast are generally well places and the vocal talents be there natural (or in some cases clearly dubbed) work well enough. It’s a matter of how much of it you can stand.

Those slightly adverse to 90% of the words on screen being sung might need 10-15 minutes to get used to the rhythm of the movie.

Also in the way though are some of the character traits which make it hard to like some of the characters we are following. Red Riding Hood is a particular challenge as she right from the get go is a selfish, greedy, gluttonous brat of a child just waiting to get stepped on. It also doesn’t help the film that half the cast act and sing in an English accent, whereas the other half act and sing in a piercing American accent(something that to this day taints a lot of modern Disney sing-alongs). It’s all the more evident when you have both faces of that coin singing the same words together and both parties pronounce words so very differently.

But these are all technicalities. There is plenty of joy to behold in other performances – Chris Pine makes for a suitably egotistical dashing prince – and his big musical number he has with his brother about their emotional “Agony” is a comedic highlight. Meryl Streep also chews scenery and words as her performance of the Witch. Johnny Depp gets a short amount of screen time, but one her slithers around in as the Mr Wolf.

This won’t be for everyone and the majority of the song numbers blend into each other – but it’s a grand looking affair that has been put together with plenty of care. So if it entices you, then head on Into the Woods if you dare.

3 Stars

 

 

 

Steven Hurst


editor