Into The Woods: "Into The Woods, Then Out Of The Woods, And Home Before Dark"

Director: Rob Marshall
Writer:    Stephen Sondheim
               James Lapine
Starring: Meryl Streep
               Emily Blunt
               James Corden
               Anna Kendrick
               Chris Pine
               Johnny Depp
               Tracey Ullman
               MacKenzie Mauzy
               Billy Magnussen
               Christine Baranski
               Daniel Huttlestone
               Lilla Crawford
               Lucy Punch
               Tammy Blanchard
Rating:   ****

Release Date: Out Now          

Into the Woods is one of those films that was stuck in developmental hell for years, long before I became the film fanatic I am now. There were even talks, the first time round, to have the likes of Cher, Goldie Hawn and Robin Williams to star. So to say this film has had a long and uneasy journey is a bit of an understatement; the journey of the film is rather like the one of the films characters.

Lucy Punch, Christine Baranski
& Tammy Blanchard
The story uses the characters of the baker and bakers wife (Corden & Blunt) to intertwine and connect various characters from Grimm's fairytales. The first act of the film follows the stories as we all know and love them, Red Ridinghood (Crawford) goes through the woods to see her grandmother, Cinderella (Kendrick) is running from her prince at midnight, Jack (Huttlestone) is off to sell his cow, and the witch (Streep) is wanting her curse reversed. Now as each of these stories have ended in the past, people have often wondered, "what happens happily ever after", and this Sondheim classic tells us just that.

Each character learns that they should've been careful what the wished for, because the things that they wanted don't necessarily bring them the happiness they craved. With each blessing comes a great curse, and whether it the loss of a loved one or the realization that your prince isn't as charming as you once thought, we all need to be happy with what we have in our lives.

As always Meryl Streep blew me away with her stunning performance as the witch. She manages to bring to life the hagged character and develop her many layers with a subtle grace throughout the film. Even after becoming beautiful, her character is still a lonely and desperate woman longing to be loved by someone, and in doing this she drives many away.

James Corden, Emily Blunt
& Meryl Streep
Emily Blunt really surprised me in her role as the baker's wife, her voice was beautiful when ever she sang, and she managed to show all of the hurt and anguish her character was going through, all within seconds. Her character's longing for a child (while the actress herself was actually pregnant) is beautifully performed by Blunt, and her big moment, in the song 'Moments in the Wood' is one she takes and performs the hell out of. It's her chance to show the moral battle she faces after getting her dream life and living in yet another fantasy.

Despite the film being a 'Disney' the film does get quite dark near then end, and although changed from the original Broadway version, for a Disney audience, the themes of death, dishonesty and despair are still prominent in the films second act. The film is quite lengthy and I feel the moral dilemma between 'Disney's' vision and the 'Sondheim' vision meant that some of the emotional power the original material had was lost and caused the film to drag rather than elevate to it's emotional climax. 

Rob Marshall provided a lush and beautifully shot film, creating his own character in the woods themselves, they are a backdrop, the characters emotions and general mood throughout the film. The cast were clearly hired for there abilities as actors and singers, as there was not a dud performance in the film, from Johnny Depp's sinister wolf, to Christine Baranski's comical yet desperate Wicked Stepmother, each actor gives it there all and makes it thrilling and easy for you to follow them into the woods.

Into the Woods - Trailer