Into the Woods (2014) Review
Sondheim’s musical takes a twist on the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, with plenty of well-known characters like you have never seen them before.
If you visit or follow my blog regularly you will understand how much I have been looking forward to this film. I absolutely adore and love musicals, so I have pretty much been waiting to see this since it was announced and that first picture of the incredible Meryl Streep as the Witch was released what feels like years ago! The second big film for a Stephen Sondheim musical after Sweeney Todd. The other exciting thing about this one, Chicago director Rob Marshall was in charge!
Cinderella. Little Red Riding Hood. Jack and Bean Stalk. Rapunzel. The Baker and his wife. Oh I think that last one is a new one. It certainly is to create a new story and tie all of these characters together. A witch warns the couple that they must find items from each of the four characters in order to lift a family curse so they will be able to have a child.
The cast put together for the film is very impressive and do a fantastic job with some tough lyrics and songs to perform, but it all works and is quite frankly hilarious at times as well. Honestly that part surprised me I wasn’t expecting some really funny moments, but I guess when you think you know a story and then things are changed a little (see Wicked) it really does create a brilliant watch.
Oh Stephen Sondheim you are delightful.
It really must take some learning these lyrics, but they are so clever and have you engaged. They really must be difficult to deliver, but it really is such a good story put together with these songs. I woke up after seeing the film last night (and listening to the soundtrack) singing “into the woods”. It is haunting and I am sure I will be singing it for days. That’s proof of a good musical in my opinion, you can’t get it out of your head and continue to sing along with it.
Well done to James Corden in his biggest role yet with this film, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from him in all honesty but as the baker he really was very good. Maybe his good performance in ‘One Chance’ helped him out for this one. But well done to him, he’s come along way in the past couple of years. He works very well with Emily Blunt who plays his wife, as well who has some of her funny moments as well.
Daniel Huttlestone who stood out in the big screen adaptation of Les Mis is back in a musical film as Jack and he is still very good and engaging. He really will be such a big star, as only read good things about his on stage performances as well. The stand out and unknown to myself in the film had to be Lilla Crawford who really has a fantastic voice. She could easily hold her own and stand out with that voice!
Obviously Meryl Streep as the Witch is brilliant, her singing voice is much more impressive than in Mamma Mia (I still liked that honestly I did). She always has an incredible on-screen presence no matter what her role. She gets some brilliant songs as well. So well done to the casting team for putting together a very strong cast who vocally are brilliant as well as the acting.
I have to say the most hilarious scene had to be Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen as the two Prince’s trying to out do each other when talking about the girls they had met. Honestly a lot of water is involved as well, it’s actually quite sexy. Yes I have gone there and said it but it is. I am sure women will understand what I mean when they see that scene. I also liked Prince Charming having some stubble as well, very up to date view of a Prince in my opinion. Love little things like that it’s quite amusing at the same time I guess.
When listening to some of the lyrics I could not help but think it must be even more difficult to perform this on stage, no retaking or second tries when your singing live. It really is such a clever and witty film, I think I actually liked it more than I expected in the end. I had been listening to the soundtrack for the last couple of weeks and it sounded a little strange, but as soon as it started it all made sense.
I really would recommend heading to the cinema to catch ‘Into the Woods’ as it certainly is a very different type of musical that you would have seen on-screen before. It has a charm to it as well, I think it helps when you know some of the stories anyway. So we know the stories and all about some of the characters, who are all brought together with a new story. That has to be something everyone will enjoy at the very least.
It opened last night in the UK and the screening we went to at 8pm was actually full. I wasn’t expecting that, so people either love musicals a lot more than I thought or the fact it was Disney is still a big pull? Well I am not entirely sure but I do hope the film does well at the UK box office and gets good reviews as it is impressive from start to finish.