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On the whole, this Disney adaptation of the Sondheim classic sits comfortably at the corner of Hollywood and Broadway -- even if it darkens to its detriment in the final act.
All Critics (212)
| Top Critics (45)
| Fresh (150)
| Rotten (62)
| DVD (3)
When it comes to navigating how to be both a family-friendly holiday crowdpleaser and a faithful adaptation of a tricky but profound musical, Into the Woods is mostly golden.
A disclaimer: Despite a dizzying and delightful first half, the film ultimately devolves into a very grim fairy tale.
Meryl Streep luxuriates in her blue wig as the vengeful Witch who's also a moral compass.
Yet amid the cleverness and the wickedly subversive tilt they take, there's an affectionate regard for all of their characters.
A layer of theatregoing good taste covers this entertaining if stately movie musical, based on Stephen Sondheim's stage show, which opened in the US in 1987 and has been revived constantly since.
With the exception of Meryl Streep (as the Witch) and James Corden (as the Baker), the cast is bland, and the bombastic orchestrations tend to steamroll the nuances of Sondheim's score.
While these tales stand up individually, they intersect and weave into a delightful new story.
[T]he movie spends such a wonderfully long time on the first act material, only to skimp on the second act.
Into the Woods is very good, engaging as it runs and admirable afterwards, but it somehow misses being brilliant. Perhaps this is congruent with its message about the hidden cost of fairytales, which makes sense.
Overall, INTO THE WOODS is just fine and doesn't justify the presence of all the stars that are showcased.
The acting is wonderful. Not surprisingly, Meryl Streep was made for the part, and Emily Blunt is particularly charming.
After an hour or so being spoiled by the light-speed storytelling when we go through the tales, the film drags a little bit.
Rob Marshall's Into the Woods goes in, then manages to get lost.
The integration of characters from multiple fairy tales is an intriguing concept and while the film starts off in amusing fashion, it loses its moxie. The jumps between characters and story arcs is mediocre at best, while plot details are lacking as the story pushes forward in time to get through its tale in 2 hours. The film's content is also more mature and dark than a family friendly atmosphere. A PG rating is too generous.
80-90% is singing. Even when musical numbers are not taking place, character dialogue is being sung. Fortunately, there are some catchy tunes that sink into the brain, but there are equally as much tiresome vocals exiting the speakers.
The female leads are the highlight. Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, and Anna Kendrick liven the picture, when the blandness of James Corden and Chris Pine step on the stage.
Into the Woods has some journey-full moments; just not enough to make it an exciting trek into the woods.
Sondheim and Lapine's dark and twisted musical retelling of fairy tales gets a fairly faithful, albeit PG adaptation. I, of course, have no big problem with this because I always found the massive stage musical a bit of a massive letdown after Act I, especially with the Baker's Wife getting killed off after she has sex like some horror movie trope. The sex and death are toned down, which actually evens out the story better, but the demise of the Witch and the reveal of the Mysterious Man/Big Bad Wolf/Baker's Father are anticlimactic and nonexistent, respectively.
All the performers give such impressive turns that I feel like I have to comment on every one of them because it's really a well-cast ensemble. Emily Blunt is the definite stand-out, being probably the only one of the cast who consistently acted intentions while singing, making the Baker's Wife a funnier character than I previously thought with her charmingly flushed comic relief.
Anna Kendrick is, as usual, a musical dynamo with her high and bright Broadway-rafters voice, and Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen steal the show in "Agony" with their princely posturing. Tracey Ullman plays Jack's Mother with cantankerous mettle, and James Corden is quite plucky as the hapless Baker. Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, and Christine Baranski also make a nasty and daffy step-trio. Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel is actually given more to do here than she is given as the good-woman mother on "Forever."
I'm not a fan of the children's songs or characters, but Lilla Crawford has some pipes and decent comic timing, while Gavroche kid enunciates too oddly for my taste. Meryl Streep is a trifle slow with the "greens" tongue twisters, and while she does belt some meaty notes later, I'm not sure how much of her vibrato was added in post-production. I didn't think that voice came out of the same woman who did "Mamma Mia"...
"Into the Woods" is Disney's latest attempt in trying to retain the creative rights to all known fairy tales. Already a powerhouse, and the main supplier of modern tales of magic and winsome beauties, Disney has adapted this more adult musical about intertwined Grimm fairytales. Based on the 1986 stage show of the same name, this film is packed with huge sets, punchy songs, and a cast of enigmatic performers. Even with its hugeness, its vision, and great subtlety, it is definitely not the original musical.
Read more at http://www.bluefairyblog.com/blog/2015/4/1/into-the-woods
A nearly unbearable musical that believes that a bloated, unfocused mishmash of several fairy tales is enough to be interesting, but it only manages to be a torture for the ears with irritating songs and voices besides poor character development, plot holes and no sense of pacing.
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