Saturday, 10 January 2015

Into the Woods (2014)

Rob Marshall directs this Disney film based on a stage musical that is based on a bunch of fairy tales. What's unusual about this from a Disney perspective, is that it is a little darker than their animated output.

A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) are childless. But a witch (Meryl Streep) informs them that it is because there is a curse on their family which can be lifted if they obtain a cow as white as milk (provided it isn't Kangaroo milk), a slipper as pure as gold, a coat as red as blood, and hair as yellow as corn. To do that, they trade magic beans with Jack, help Red Riding Hood, find Rapunzel, and negotiate with Cinderella (Anna Kendrick). All while singing.

The film starts in an enjoyable way which got my hopes up slightly. The trouble with that was that Rob Marshall's last film, 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides', started out similarly but ended up dragging on. And that's exactly what happened here. It was sporadically enjoyable, with some amusing lyrics and moments. But it got less and less interesting as it went on, meaning that a majority of its two hour runtime left me cold.

Personally, I think Rob Marshall isn't a very inventive or exciting director. While he may be able to frame a nice shot on occasion, his films are too one dimensional and lacking in life. 'Into the Woods' was too static. Perhaps this is an inherited issues from the original material but the director shouldn't be afraid to utilise what film has to offer. Well, I suppose there are a couple of, what I assume to be, attempts at that. They just end up being drab. And speaking of the original material, the songs in this were flat and forgettable. They don't seem to be doing much to energise the story.

At least there are members of the cast who do provide some fun. Emily Blunt is the one who shines the brightest. There are also some brief, amusing moments with Johnny Depp's wolf (it's practically a cameo) and Chris Pine's prince. It was also nice to see some of the darker moments from the original tales making their way through to the film.

The film is intermittently entertaining but mostly drags lifelessly. I thought two hours was far more than the film could handle.

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