Friday, December 26, 2014

Into the Woods

Movie Name: Into the Woods
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Johnny Depp, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford, Christine Baranski, Lucy Punch, Tammy Blanchard, Billy Magnussen, Simon Russell Beale, Mackenzie Mauzy, Richard Glover, Frances de la Tour
Genre: Comey, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Director Rob Marshall is back, following the critically derided, but commercially successful "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides". The film is an adaptation of the musical from Stephen Sondheim, who has also seen his work adapted by Tim Burton with "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". "Into the Woods" is a musical with a different take on well known fairy tales, encompassing Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella. The focus of the story is the merger of these characters, whose paths cross in the woods, which becomes the focal point of where all these characters converge. The story starts when the Baker and his Wife have to reverse a curse brought on by a witch, due to actions that the Baker's father did many years ago. In order to reverse the curse, the couple has three days in order to get 4 items requested by the witch, which makes them cross paths with all these different characters from these fairy tales.
Rob Marshall's career started in the theater, as a choreographer, and his name is forever associated with the huge success that was "Chicago". Since then he's directed literary properties such as "Memoirs of a Geisha", and another musical, "Nine", both of which were met with disappointing results. "Into the Woods" turns out to be one of his better efforts: the film successfully merges all these disparate characters into an interesting and otherworldly universe, benefiting from a fantastic cast, who can carry the amazing score to great heights. Where the film does indeed falter, is the somewhat disjointed third act that feels forced and rushed. This creates an overall uneven experience, as characters are dropped without much of a follow up. Still, the film is captivating and visually impressive, with the cinematography from Dion Beebe creating a sense of magical woods, as well as the fantastic production design from Dennis Gassner and the costumes from the always remarkable Collen Atwood. From the sprawling cast, Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt turn out to be the highlights of the film. An interesting film worth watching.