Disney take on the successful Broadway musical ‘Into the Woods’ which was originally played in theatres in the US back in 1986 in its original run on stage. After multiple failures to bring the successful musical on the big screen, Disney entered the frame and got the ball rolling back in 2012 and got director Rob Marshall on board. Known for his directorial work for ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, ‘Chicago’, ‘Nine’ & ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’; Disney have been clever in their choice of director in Rob Marshall. Having already worked on musicals such as ‘Nine and Chicago’, and already working on a previous Disney project in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, he seemed like the perfect choice, and it ultimately paid off.
Musicals aren’t normally my cup of tea, if I’m being brutally honest, but I did enjoy 2012 ‘Les Miserables’, so all is not lost. Boasting an impressive cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine & Johnny Depp, ‘Into the Woods’ surprisingly impresses me and is fairly enjoyable. The thing about musicals for me is the ‘in your face’ and ‘over the top’ performances which really do irritate me; but ‘Into the Woods’ pans down the over-the-top acting and replaces it with a considerable amount of comedy and wit throughout which kept me entertained during the film.
Now, if you look through that cast, there is one notable name that sticks out like a sore thumb, and that name is James Corden. Well known for his roles in ‘Gavin & Stacey’, the English actor surprises me and carries out an acceptable performance. He isn’t as annoying as I normally find him, and yes his singing voice isn’t the greatest of all time, but he just fits in. Everyone is babbling on about Emily Blunt & Meryl Streep’s performances, and let me add that they have been nominated for a Golden Globe each. For me, the performances are in no way in any shape of form that good. But I suppose that proves that the performances by a woman in a musical or comedy in the last year have been very average. The one actor that I did enjoy watching on screen was Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince; he brilliantly pulls off another side to the prince that we aren’t used to. Instead of playing the prince in a well-mannered and perfect way, instead, Cinderella’s Prince in ‘Into the Woods’ is actually a bit of an arsehole and an incredibly stupid one at that, but, an enjoyable arsehole at that!
My massive issue with the film is that it is tirelessly long, especially for a film that is rated PG which is most likely being targeted at children, and it does affect the film slightly. Overall though, the film is actually okay. Actively switching between the different fairy tale stories of Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella & Jack and the Beanstalk, it keeps you in check throughout the film and keeps the film fresh. An enjoyable musical, with a big twist which also stays very dark throughout, ‘Into the Woods’ is actually a success and proves that all musical can be downbeat and not always in your face. 3.5 stars for ‘Into the Woods’.