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Is Into The Woods the best movie musical of the 21st Century so far?


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  • [Review] Is Into The Woods the best movie musical of the 21st Century so far?

    Disney Pictures sent out a press notice today which quotes Lou Lumenick of the New York Post in saying that Into The Woods is "this century's best musical." Would you agree?

    I've seen Into the Woods and loved it. But is it perfect? Is it better than Chicago? Hairspray? Moulin Rouge? Mamma Mia?

    Into the Woods is a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's popular stage production of the same name. The story is a bit of a modern twist on several beloved fairy tales and follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them.

    Have you seen this surprise hit film yet? We'd love to hear your review. And please vote in the poll above to let us know your rating.
    ***** Best Movie Musical of the 21st Century
    **** Solid fun film
    *** OK
    ** Wasn't a fan
    * Terrible
    Last edited by Dustysage; 12-30-2014, 03:26 PM.
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  • #2
    Re: Is Into The Woods the best movie musical of the 21st Century so far?

    I don't go to the movies much. However, my husband and I did enjoy the third part of The Hobbit yesterday. I just might have to twist the man's arm, and have him drop me at the theatre, so I can catch this flick.


    • #3
      Re: Is Into The Woods the best movie musical of the 21st Century so far?

      Into the Woods is the best stage to screen adaptation, as well as being the best adaptation of the stage musical that could have been realistically hoped for. It definitely had its failings, but they were outweighed by its successes. The performances were all really good (except Johnny Depp as the Wolf), and the sets, costumes, cinematography, orchestrations and music were great. However, there were many adaptation bumps. They mainly had to do with the story working better as a stage musical than as a film. The narration just states what you can easily see by watching the movie, and you need an intermission to separate the two distinct narratives. Without that intermission, the story as a whole feels a lot less cohesive. Another major thing that worked against the movie was the studio that distributed it, as well as the attempts to manipulate the story in order to get a PG rating. The altered treatment of Rapunzel's story arc was incredibly lazy, as well as the writing of the character herself not being as dynamic as the stage counterpart. In the stage show, she reacts realistically to everything around her, displaying a range of emotions. In the movie, she stays relatively sane, which isn't how someone would act after being locked in a tower for fourteen years (as was stated in the stage version). The only real emotions she shows at any point besides being normal are disdain and sadness. Her end in the movie is also not nearly as effective at conveying the "Children Will Listen" moral. This also affects the Witch's character. Her motive for wanting to get Jack to the Giant is because she just watched the only thing she ever loved get murdered by the Giant. Since Rapunzel doesn't die in the movie like she did in the stage version, the Witch wants to give Jack to the Giant, but just because she's filling the role of "the sensible one." The omission of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (as well as Rapunzel's Prince staying faithful to her throughout the movie) also doesn't drive home the complexity of the characters in the stage version. The other main issue that I had with the movie (besides the Giant's Wife sounding like Ursula after she made herself huge) is Rob Marshall's direction, mostly with the musical direction, though there's still some misdirection in the non-musical staging. The prime examples of bad direction are "It Takes Two," "On the Steps of the Palace," and "Agony." As far as the performances, the best ones were Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife, James Corden as the Baker, and Meryl Streep as The Witch. Blunt and Corden have great chemistry, and Streep sells the more serious, emotional, and dramatic moments very well, but she's not as good with the comical moments. Anna Kendrick is also good as Cinderella. Lilla Crawford's Little Red was too nice, making the stealing at the beginning and the arguments in "Your Fault" and her daring Jack to get the harp seem out of place. Daniel Huttlestone is the right age and appearance for Jack, but his performance wasn't very good (though I can't articulate why) and his accent was very distracting. The stepfamily was good (especially Christine Baranski as the Stepmother), Tracey Ullman was great as Jack's Mother, and the princes were okay. Johnny Depp was the only one to fail. Not only was the costume design horrible, but the performance was as well. Johnny Depp can't sing, and his performance was so bad and unsubtle in its sexual overtones (the candy in the jacket was awful and not funny) that it makes me prefer the two wolves from the 2002 revival. All in all, I enjoyed the movie and may even buy it when it comes out on DVD, but it's not as good as the stage version.
      Don't let nostalgia cloud your judgement.

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      • #4
        Re: Is Into The Woods the best movie musical of the 21st Century so far?

        ORDDU: We didn't like a single, solitary song in this monstrosity. The whole premise for the storyline is too jaded and cynical for us. We like fairy tales that are uplifting rather than fairy tales that remind you too much of the real world in which we all live.


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