Disney and Sondheim are immiscible, they do not mix. They separate into their very different parts; with Disney floating on top of the dark and heavy Sondheim. You can lead a mouse into the woods but you can’t make it…sing? I’m not sure where I’m going with this.
I like musicals and I was really looking forward to Into the Woods. I was aware of the stage musical but I wasn’t all that familiar with the story. On the surface it sounds great, fairy tales weave together to create a brand new dark tale full of adventure, magic and music. Sign me up!
Sadly the film just doesn’t live up to the hype.
Turns out the reason the Baker and his wife cannot conceive a child is because there is a curse caused by the Baker’s father when he stole greens from the garden of the witch next door. The witch offers to lift the curse if the Baker brings her four items; a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. So the Baker heads into the woods to retrieve the items and along his travels meets many fairytale figures.
Emily Blunt and James Cordon make a good couple as the Baker and his wife but there’s little chemistry between the two. Daniel Huttlestone and Lilla Crawford are entertaining as Jack and Little Red Riding Hood and Anna Kendrick is…Anna Kendrick. And we musn’t forget Mr Depp, I quite enjoyed his turn as Mr Wolf; the stylish but deadly villain.
It won’t surprise you to know that Meryl Streep is utterly spellbinding, she shines in this character. Bitter, wild, powerful, funny – she is by far the most interesting character and when she gets going by god you get totally carried away.
It’s just a shame the rest of the film is a bit of a let down.
I feel like the story should have been darker but never having seen the original stage show perhaps that’s my own wish fulfillment. I really liked Tim Burton’s version of Sweeny Todd and I was hoping this would have the same impact but the emotional scenes just didn’t have enough weight to them.
Cinderella and Rapunzel have the weakest storylines and I found myself struggling to care about either of them. Chris Pine is pretty terrible as Cinderella’s prince and anytime these characters appeared, I lost interest.
The songs are largely forgettable which is a real shame but the voices are good. The theme of ‘careful what you wish for’ is not new territory and at two hours long it does feel stretched. I’d suggest waiting for the DVD release.