Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Into the Woods-An enchanting movie musical

I heard that Hollywood was turning the stage musical of Into the Woods into a film about a year and a half ago and was looking forward to its grand opening and as a fan of the show ( I have seen high school versions and original on VHS while in my high school choir class.) it certainly was a grand film to watch.
I have wondered for some time now if I got the chance to make a movie version how would I do it? how would it look? Now that director Rob Marshall has done so I have to say he excelled to all of my wonder and expectations. If you don’t know the plot to Stephen Sondheim’s musical let me sum it up, he starts with a handful of popular fairy tale characters like Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and his beanstalk and a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt). He then throws them into a brilliant mashed-up world where everyone sings. Each character has a reason to enter the woods (queue “I wish”), for the Baker and his wife they go into the woods to “lift a spell” that was placed on their family by a Witch (Meryl Streep).

Every actor plays their role as realistic and with prestige. In my opinion the story works when Little Red Riding Hood does her job (with confidence not bratty) and young Crawford was perfect “I really hate to ask it but would you have a basket” and stood her own against The Wolf (a small role played to perfection by Johnny Depp). I enjoyed Corden as The Baker, I like  the character and he made it his own without “straying from the path” of the original. The Baker was funny, sweet and not to smart but loved his wife and Jack was just a kid who loved his cow. I should add that my favorite song is “agony” sung by the two Princes (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) and the scene was so good and fun to watch and made the year wait worth it (they really hammed it up). Christine Baranski, Tracy Ullman and Mackenzie Mauzy also appear in the film.
Since the entire story takes place in the woods I was looking forward to how it would look (Production Design, Art Direction and Set Decoration). The trees were fantastic from Cinderella’s mother’s grave to the tree Jack climbed as he sung “Giants in the Sky”. The costumes (by Colleen Atwood) were wonderful from The Witch’s dress to “The cape as red as blood and the shoe as Pure as Gold”. Other reviewers will warn you that it gets darker in the second act and it does both plot wise and through the cinematography by Dion Beebe as each “midnight” passes.

 When the film was over I gave it a standing ovation and add this musical film to my top five favorites list (I was worried when the actors/characters had to sing on top of each other or together but they were all wonderful and pulled it off). To finish I would like to say a thank you to Miss Callen for making us watch Into the Woods.

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