Saturday, December 27, 2014
I have to admit Into the Woods is one of my favorite musicals. It's probably right up there with Sweeney Todd. Both are Stephen Sondheim musicals and both are what I'd call on the more dark and disturbing side.
Now when I heard that they were making Into the Woods into a movie with Rob Marshall at the helm I was very skeptical in my option the man killed Chicago and to this day I refuse to watch it. I also had some concerns over the casting. Not so much Meryl Streep(although her last musical movie performance left little to desire) but Johnny Depp as the wolf, bothered me only because I felt he was put into the movie bc Marshall had previously worked with him on POTC On Stranger Tides and bc he was the lead in Sweeney Todd..something about the casting felt off. Although the decision to recast Little Red as a girl who's a little older did in my option work very well. Normally she's played by a young 20 something.
But I love this show and I love the music. It's just beautiful and in some cases so tongue and cheek (Agony) it's hard not to love it. So I settled in for my first movie in a new state.
First off the set design and costumes were amazing. I know they were on a sound stage but I felt like they were in the woods. And I have to say the casting turned out to be spot on. I really do see an Oscar nomination coming to Streep for her performance of the witch. And what I think worked so well was the music for the part originally played by Bernadette Peters fit Streep's vocal range so well she truly sounded wonderful. And she owned that role. It's hard not to want and see the witch as Peters, but this is not the stage version and Peters and Streep are in two different acting categories it wouldn't be fair to want a Peters performance. I loved every moment Streep was on the screen. And when she's singing to Rupenzel (Stay with Me) the emotion and feeling Streep gave was incredible. You find yourself sympathizing for this woman who in all honesty is as selfish as the rest of the characters. You see weakness if only for a split second you see vulnerability and it's beautiful.
I have seen several productions of Into the Woods and in all them Jack has been my least favorite. I have never really liked his song Giants in the Sky and have always found the kid who's cast as Jack to be annoying and in need of a good smack in the back of the head. But the kid they cast Daniel Huttlestone was great. I loved his voice and for the first time I really enjoyed Giants in the Sky. He didn't come off as this annoying little kid, he was more of a little shit who loved adventure..wanted to please his mother(Tracy Ullman who in the end could never really find the happiness she wanted despite her new riches) and got too greedy causing the entire kingdom to suffer for it. And I loved every minute of it.
Another shock was Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince. WHO KNEW HE COULD SING!!! And because it's Chris Pine he's version of Agony is out of the world hysterical and ridiculous and everything I want in my Prince Charming. (Agony is sung great and acted even better by both princes)
Now because it's Disney some of the more adult themes were played down, some of the deaths were implied, but they did for the most part stick to the stage version. I was glad to see they didn't cut out or change any of Little Reds stuff with the wolf..although unpleasant to think about predators and our children, it's an important plot point for the Baker in his ability to grow and change while on his journey.
If you are not a musical person )and I understand sitting though a musical can be rough at times) trust me when I say like Sweeney Todd this is not your typical musical. Yes there is singing but there are no look everyone made it to the town meeting so we can learn to dance numbers. It's fun and different and a little dark. I was disappointed the Agony reprise was not in the film as it's as funny as the first with both Princes board with marriage and looking for the two sleeping princesses in the woods(Snow White/Sleeping Beauty) but the movie is not ruined without it. I'd say what was taken out the act one finale and some others did not hurt the film. The only people who will miss them are those who know the show.
Don't be surprised to see a few of these actors Emily Blunt, Streep and others on the red carpet for the Oscars. I can see Oscar nominations in their future. So if you have some free time go see Into the Woods and you'll be Happily Ever After!