Words by Rebecca Swain
Based on Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 musical, Into the Woods is sure to have you singing along with the fairy tale characters we have all come to know and love. This Disney musical is brought to you by director Rob Marshall, previously known for Chicago and Nine. However this time he’s leaving the world of half-naked dancers and instead connecting the classic tales of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood. The characters from each tale intertwine with the baker and his wife in the woods, all sharing the same goal of finding their ‘happily ever after’.
It hosts a range of stars including Johnny Depp as the wolf (unfortunately his outfit is atrocious), James Cordon as the baker and Emily Blunt as the bakers wife. However, it is Meryl Streep who dazzles above all, not only by her outstanding voice (which audiences may already be aware of from her role in Mamma Mia) but also by her transformation. She begins as the deranged and ugly witch only to become her beautiful younger self, with the most outrageous blue curls – what girl is not envious of a 65 year old woman who can pull that off? She sits at the heart of the film that sets events in motion by offering to lift the curse from the baker and his wife who are unable to conceive a child. In return, they must go into the woods to find 4 items, all of which belong to our main fairy tale characters that by coincidence are on their own journeys in the woods.
As fascinating as it is to watch, there are a few moments where you have to wonder what is going on? For example, the wolf comes across as more than just a predator but more of a child molester, talking to her seductively and sexualising the way he talks about her as ‘his meal’.
Prince Charming is also a character that will stay with you for a while: ‘I was brought up to be charming, not sincere’. Although Chris Pine is well known for his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, he plays the role of a smug and wealthy prince just as easily. The scene in which he and his brother sing about their beloveds is worthy of mentioning because as humorous as it was, it was possibly one of the most cringe worthy scenes throughout. Pine is obviously singing dramatically for effect, and as much as I did have to look away, I have to admit it was thoroughly enjoyable too. Watch it almost as a guilty pleasure!
For fans of the fairy tales, the end of the film plays out more like a soap drama than the conventional happy ending. It takes an unexpected and absurd turn that quite frankly lets it down in comparison to the rest of the film. I’m certain that it will make little girls everywhere retire their princess dresses!
The pacing of the film was also a little slow but on that note Marshall should still be congratulated on remarkably converting this from the stage to the big screen.
Overall, a film full of surprises, humour and light hearted singing. A little dark at times and as already warned be prepared for a drastic turn that will leave you bewildered; it is certainly a twisted version of a ‘happily ever after’.