Watched Rob Marshall's film version of the James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim Broadway dark fantasy musical Into the Woods
. Premise: In a world of fairytale characters, many go into the woods wishing for something. Two of those are the childless baker's couple (James Corden and Emily Blunt) who seek to break the witches (Meryl Streep) curse that prevents them having a child....
I haven't seen any other version so I have no idea how the musical is generally but if this collection of songs is anything to go by, the songs are a bit lacklustre and I can't say I had ever heard of one beforehand. The opening song does not work on film, none of the songs are ones I want to listen to again or think "could be in a musical collection CD". There are two good songs, the ending song
and the clever "Hello, Little Girl" which has various subtexts. The other music works for the musical well enough with the enjoyment coming from the fun the cast have with it, Agony by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen the best of that sort.
The film has good production values, clear sound, good costumes though Pine's Prince Charming does look a little silly. Was able to attract a good cast with the likes of Anna Kendrick (Cinderella), Johnny Depp as the wolf, Tracey Ullman as Jack's Mother with cameo's for Frances de la Tour, Joanna Riding and Simon Russell Beale. Has a sense of humour, mixing the darker old tales with spoofing the newer Disney-like versions, self-awareness at some of the silly things the characters are doing. Also has intresting themes but less successful as they tend not to fully land, for example the main theme
is used well in individual moments but it never quite knits together into an overarching theme.
The Broadway musical has two very different act's so will use that:
Act 1: Starts slowly, lacks cohesion of its many many tales (Cinderella, Red Riding Hook, Jack, Bakers) and lacks spark, relies very much on Blunt and Corden making a lovely couple and the spunky Hood (Lilla Crawford does very well in only second film) to prevent boredom. However as characters get into the woods and interact with each other, the stories knit together into a more cohesive tale and it begins to spark. It isn't more then a good, nice time but the characters click (bar possibly Jack who is such an idiot, he is a danger to society), the stories are fun, I enjoyed the humour, romances are nice but very light. Was helped by the bakers Blunt and Corden making a good couple, getting the comedy right and providing likeable leads.
Act 2: The film comes to what seems like the ending
and then lurches widely off into a different, less enjoyable, path. The humour is still good but far far rarer, it loses one of the key components of act 1
and suffers for it. It contradicts its own messages/themes at times
, there are some individual moments but Act 2 generally drags and ending is lacking.
Overall, was a nice enough musical but wonder if it would have been better splitting it into two films.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”