The long-awaited Disney adaptation of the Grimm Brothers’ fairytales is full of striking cinematography and an all-star cast. Yet it is without a doubt a marmite film: you will either adore or hate its child-like play and repetitive singing. Narrated by James Corden, who plays a baker married to Emily Blunt, the film intertwines several of the Grimm brothers fairytales. The baker and his wife suffer from a curse laid upon the Baker’s family by a witch, played by Meryl Streep. In order to lift the curse, the Witch asks them to obtain “a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.“ The film then follows the tale of the Baker trying to find these items, thus intertwining the Baker’s story with the stories of Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and Jack and the tale of his beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone). While cleverly playing at the the childhood tales, this tale also questions the notion of “ever after,” and the characters must act together to achieve their happy endings.
The genius of the film, which is adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 musical, is the twisted morals and the return to the fairytale’s roots in folklore; in many ways it is vastly different from the traditional Disney fairytale. It’s no surprise to discover that the director’s background is in choreography. While the amount of dance numbers compared to Marshall’s Chicago or Annie is fractional, the dynamic music and striking cinematography is the film’s real treat.
While Streep’s performance, and striking hair and make up makes her role as an evil Witch and caring mother to Rapunzel memorable, the true star of the film is Blunt. Blunt’s performance is heart-warming, and is genuine among other melodramatic roles. The film would have benefitted from two of the films cameo actors being given more screen time. Johnny Depp as the Wolf, and Chris Pine as the Prince both give funny and compelling performances.
The dank, dark, beautiful and ominous woods which act as a literary tool for all the cast to intertwine, give the whole film an excessive feel, which is perhaps the film’s biggest woe. The first 16 minutes, containing of only one song explain the characters reasons for going into the woods, leaves the audience a little bored. While this style of multi-character montage and grand composure is a real treat on stage, it does not transfer so well to the big screen.
Into the Woods( 2015) directed by Rob Marshall is released in the UK by Walt Disney Studios, Certificate PG.