Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: Into The Woods (2014)

                                             

   Director Rob Marshall Takes Us 'Into' A Forest Of Actions With Consequences Through The Use of Its Fairy Tale Fables
   
     There is that old saying: Be Careful What You Wish For. Whenever we wish for something and actually get it, that tends to come with something that we may not want. Into The Woods manages to deal with that theme but through the use of some of our favorite fairy tales, thus creating a delightful and visually creative yet deep viewing experience.

      Story:
     Into The Woods follows the story of a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are childless because of a curse put on their house by a witch (Meryl Streep). In order to break the curse, they must retrieve four special items and to do so, they must enter the woods and they stumble across different fairy tale characters, including Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), and Cinderella's Prince (Chris Pine).

     Ups:
    I'll start off with the acting from the cast. Everybody, from the older veterans to the younger children, all bring in their A-game with their acting chops as well as their pipes. Meryl Streep, of course, was brilliant and while she was a bit over-the-top, she did look like she was having a ball and she even almost brought a tear from my eye with her rendition of "Stay With Me". Next, I'll get into Emily Blunt. After watching her performance in this, it just left me with one question: Why isn't this girl a bigger star? Seriously, she's proven that she can be an action hero with Edge of Tomorrow and now she has proven not only her comedic chops, but musical as well. Blunt brought quite a few laughs out of me yet there are a few moments where she showcases her character's desperation. I even liked the scenes between her and James Corden as they both had great chemistry. Anna Kendrick is amazing as Cinderella and I was quite moved by her character's arc as she goes from a girl wanting to go to the ball escaping her servitude to wondering whether Prince Charming is really her Prince Charming. Speaking of which, Chris Pine owned every scene he was in as he brought great comedic timing to his role of the rather naive and narcissistic prince. I would say the second best number, behind "Stay With Me", was "Agony" where both Cinderella's prince and Rapunzel's prince, played by Billy Magnussen, sing about their own personal insecurities. I'd also like to acknowledge Lilla Crawford and Daniel Huttlestone, who play Little Red Riding Hood and Jack, respectively. Both of them give very mature performances for kids their age and hopefully they both have great things ahead of them.

   Next, I'll get into the direction by Rob Marshall. As proven by this and Chicago, Marshall has proven that musicals are his genre. I loved how because this is adapted from a Broadway musical, he gave the film a rather stagey feel which allows the two different mediums of film and Broadway stage to be molded together into one. Some people may feel that the two different mediums should be separate, but I personally love this type of molding because it allows different forms of artistry to make one more colorful portrait.Not only that, but because he doesn't do a lot of close-ups on the actor's face or have the camera go out on the roof as a musical number ends, he doesn't give the actors little breathing room or too much breathing room. I also thought every technical aspect, from the visuals to the production/art design, looked beautiful and very lavish.

   Downs:
   While I did enjoy the film, one chief complaint I had was that by the third act, the pacing does get very slow. I felt that it sort of took a while for the climax to get going. But to be fair, I'm sure the filmmakers wanted to take a bit of time for the characters to slowly realize they may or may not get their "happily ever after" and realizing the consequences by the wishes they've made.

   Consensus:
   Overall, Into The Woods is a colorful yet deep and meaningful fairy tale spectacle about being careful what you wish for. All the performances were spectacular, the visuals were beautifully done, and the direction by Rob Marshall proves that he is a true master of this genre.

   Would I Recommend It?:
   To anybody who loves musicals. If they irritate you, you may want to steer clear since there is quite a bit of singing throughout the film.

Grade: B