Into the Woods is a musical which begins by showing familiar fairytales like Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Jack and the Beanstalk (with a little Rapunzel thrown in along the way for good measure), and then shows what happens after the traditional fairy tales end – i.e. what happens after the Happily Ever After. It’s all tied together by a baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt) who are unable to have children because of a curse cast on the baker’s family by Meryl Streep. In order to lift the curse, they have to bring the witch: a cow as white as milk (which they buy from Jack in exchange for magic beans); a cape as red as blood (which they take from Little Red Riding Hood); hair as yellow as corn (stolen from Rapunzel); and a slipper as pure as gold (which comes from Cinderella. Just overlook the fact that her slippers are usually glass). The collection of these items steers the different fairytales into certain directions, and the rest of the exceedingly long film deals with the fallout.
I have to say, I was incredibly disappointed with this film. I can honestly never remember being so bored in the cinema before, and it was before I had my cinema card so I very much resented paying full price to be that bored! I even started doing sums in my head to work out how much I owed my sister for my ticket and drink, that’s how dull it was! I didn’t much care for the plot in the end, and it certainly wasn’t interesting enough to merit the length of the film. Most of the characters weren’t particularly likeable (James Corden was downright irritating), and I couldn’t really bring myself to care about any of them. I thought Johnny Depp might feature more but his part was barely longer than the clip in the trailer, which was a shame because his character was one of the more interesting (even though it felt a bit inappropriate and awkward to me). Emily Blunt’s character started to develop when she had a fling with the Prince, but then she was instantly killed off and I found I really couldn’t care less. (Was she killed off for cheating though? Because the Prince wasn’t punished at all, and that looks like double standards to me). Considering the cast list (Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt), I really did expect more.
I was at least hoping for some cracking tunes because I do love a musical, but all of the songs sounded exactly the same to me, and it just felt like there wasn’t any variety at all in the music or mood of the film. I didn’t realise at first that Into the Woods is an adaptation of a Broadway musical, and apparently it’s fairly faithful to the original as it was adapted by one of the Broadway writers. All I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t pay good money to see the live version! I just don’t understand the fuss, and I especially don’t understand the award nominations it received. I think Meryl Streep’s a fine actor, but as far as I’m concerned there isn’t a single aspect of this film that should be credited with an award. I really can’t stress how disappointed I was. I thought the premise itself was really interesting and had a lot of potential, but as far as I’m concerned it was ruined by the execution. That’s not necessarily the fault of the film makers though, because if it is really faithful to the original source material, I may well have felt the same about the Broadway version. As I’ve not seen it I can’t really pass judgement, but all I can say is that I certainly wasted a tenner at the cinema!
See previous Film Review featuring The Boy Next Door.