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Monday, January 5, 2015

Thoughts on the Into the Woods film

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
I've talked about this extraordinary musical before and was absolutely thrilled to know they were making a movie of it when it was announced.  And finally I got to see it last week, after devouring the soundtrack for a couple weeks.  And I have to say that... maybe my anticipation did not work in my favor this time.  I did think it was a good adaptation.  But just not amazing like I had hoped it would be.  And it's difficult to pinpoint why that is.  Although I'll try!

Individually, I thought the cast was superb - I even liked Johnny Depp, although I do have some qualms about how they presented the wolf portion of the story.  For a film that's going for a very realistic visual take on these fairy tales, I felt like the Wolf needed to look more like a wolf and not like a cartoon.  But in one area I thought Depp excelled - and that was in the way he played the Hello Little Girl scene which is very comical in the film.  Okay, first I should say, that I think it is more effective as a sinister, creepy and darkly humorous scene, but given that this is Disney, I understand the change.  And I felt that Depp played it just shy of too broad which felt right.  And the reason I make such a point of that, is because I can compare it to the song that is my favorite from the soundtrack - Agony.  Which is another comical song, but I felt it was played too over the top.  It was a highly enjoyable scene, but it felt jarring from the tone of the film and took away from the believability of the Princes.



And going back to the fact that this is a Disney film, I was initially okay with the idea that some of the deaths and the darkness would be dulled or done away with, but after seeing the film, I thought it really hurt the emotional impact of the story.  Which dulled the message of sometimes the thing you want can have terrible consequences (among other things).  Especially with the character of the Witch, who in the film becomes really frustrated I guess, and after all she's done to get what she wanted, she gives up.  Not very believable.  But in the musical, the death of a certain character made her arc believable.

So after all the things that didn't quite sit well with me in this, I have to say I did enjoy the humor and the character portrayals, especially of the Baker and his wife (as Alisa predicted!) and of Little Red who is so charming and sneaky.  I had a surprise too with how much I loved "Giants in the Sky" and Jack in that scene.  The best scene for me was "No One is Alone" because that was very emotional as it should be.  The film excelled with the cinematography and in making the woods a very visually enticing place to visit.  It's wonderful to see this musical in such a lush setting, along with lush orchestrations of the music.  I feel like seeing the musical live will be a better way to understand the complexity and the beauty of this musical, but the film does a good job of capturing some of the musical's magic.

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