Into The Woods [Moonlight Cinema]

Disclaimer: I have not watched the original stage production before but have heard enough about it over the years to know what it is about. 

An entertaining movie adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical with good laughs, great acting (and scenary chewing), great songs and above-average singing, but be warned that it has been Disney-fied and the dark edginess and humour of Sondheim's original has been watered down. Nonetheless, it still retained the original's core themes and wit - just more family-friendly.

Rob Marshall's directing was smooth and uncomplicated, and coupled with the beautiful cinematography of Dion Beebe, the end result was a visually sumptuous 125 minutes that did justice to Sondheim's classic masterful. 

The movie, like the musical, got into the plot quickly and efficiently. Introducing all the key players in a wonderful prologue. All the actors established themselves within moments of appearing and this really is a testament to Sondheim's amazing wordsmithery. The First Act moved along in a clipped pace, breezily and confidently, with humour and familiarity, but the Second Act was not able to keep pace as its family-friendly darkness diluted the emotional punch and the audience is left with more head scratching rather than heart wrenching. 

The leads are inobstensibly Emily Blunt and James Corden, both of which were great in their roles though a tad too young to make sense plot wise. Blunt had a pretty voice and was really fun to watch, but unfortunately fell prey to the Disney script. Corden got that earnest Baker look down pat. 

Meryl Streep gloriously chewed up all the scenary that she appeared in. She looked like she was having so much fun - a giddy mix of The Devil Wears Prada and Death Becomes Her. This may just score Streep another nom for Best Supporting Actress if they can overlook the weakness of the Second Act which Streep tried her best to overcome. 

Johnny Depp was really nothing more than a glorified cameo. At least he could chew as well Streep. 

Anna Kendrick had the second lead and she really does have the most beautiful/Broadway-like voices of the cast. Pity her Cinderella did not get as much dramatic/comedic moments for her to really shine other than her scene on the palace steps. 

Chris Pine definitely got Prince Charming down right. And Marshall deftly shot his and Billy Magnussen's "Agony" scene brilliantly: highlighting the comedy, as both princes gamely hammed it up, to cover up for the weak vocals. 

Christine Baranski is a hoot!!! She should sing on The Good Wife. 

Kudos too to the young stars Lilla Crawford and Daniel Huttlestone. The latter was also Gavroche in Tom Hooper's Les Misérables. 

A fun, enjoyable film for the whole family and when you are done, go home and watch the original stage production or listen to the original Broadway cast OST! 


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