2014 Movie Reviews: Into The Woods

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As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I love musicals. And this film, based on the Broadway sensation Into The Woods (which I haven’t seen, but plan to) has been getting mixed reviews from critics. Some love it, some hate it.

Personally, I’m on the ‘love’ side.

With so many films these days that offer a twisted look on fairytales, none of them have had quite the same effect as this one. Why? Because it shows us what fairytales truly are. Yes they have magic and wonder, but there is often allegory and symbolism for something very dark. We get clues of the darkness throughout the first half and, despite what some critics are saying, I believe the film transitions rather smoothly to the ‘grimm’ events that occur in the second half.

Perhaps the reason it works is that it takes so many different stories and combines them so effectively. The stories feel as though they complement one another, and it doesn’t feel wrong that they’re occurring in the same universe. The lessons that these characters learn over the course of the movie speaks a lot to both the wonder and the humanity of the story.

The cast gets my vote as the year’s best ensemble, they just work so perfectly off one another. Corden and Blunt get a lot of emotions to deal with and they make it work. Meryl Streep proves not only that she’s still got all her acting talent, but she’s a very good singer. And Chris Pine – wow. Just wow. And Johnny Depp isn’t as bad as everybody says he is, but just be aware he has VERY little screen-time.

The film’s production design and costume design are both wonderful to be hold, and the sound design is great as well. The film is put together beautifully, and I think Rob Marshall did a great job putting it all together. Very impressive tech-wise. My only minor complaint is that perhaps the film is a little too stagy, but for a movie like this, I don’t mind. If you don’t like musicals this probably won’t win you over, but otherwise, I would recommend it. And remember, there are times when you make a wish, and other times when a wish makes you.

*****

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