As an amalgamation of all of our favourite fairytale characters, ‘Into The Woods’ follows the story of the Baker and his Wife as they try to break the curse of the Wicked Witch. In order to do so must collect various items from Red Riding Hood, Jack (and his beanstalk), Rapunzel and Cinderella.
The first thing that I will say - and what needs to be made abundantly clear - is this is not a review of the beloved Stephen Sondheim musical. His fans are numerous and (frankly) a little scary in their enthusiasm. It is undeniably a brilliantly written show – but this is a movie, isn’t it? What might disappoint such fans is what feels like a complete watering down of much of the movie. Understandably this is a Disney film and the sexual predator of The Wolf (Jonny Depp) would not be something I can see Disney greenlighting, but it is this lack of light and shade that changes all of the stakes (of which there seem to be not many) and ultimately leaves the whole thing sprinkled with a little too much Disney magic. It’s sort of a wonder Tim Burton wasn’t asked to direct; just imagine how twisted those woods might get!
What they have done exceptionally well for this film is casting. Meryl Streep certainly proved she had the voice in 'Mama Mia' and delivers again with her portrayal of the Witch (she could play Batman, as Cam did say). Emily Blunt and James Corden work very well together as the Baker and his Wife, with Anna Kendrick proving why she is the current "it" girl for all movies that might require a song. By far one of the funniest moments in the film was between the two princes (played by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen); it was camp and hilarious, full of overly gallant poses and masculine power plays. I feel really bad for Frances De La Tour who plays The Giant’s Wife – that poor woman gets cast as "the giant" in everything!
To get the most out of ‘Into the Woods’ I would definitely recommending being at your most alert. The lyrics are fast, numerous and more often than not hilarious, and you definitely don’t want to miss any of them. It has been my feeling recently with the musical-to-movie adaptions that I’ve seen (think 'Jersey Boys') that I have been left with this overwhelming sense of how much I want to see it performed on stage. Maybe that's just me and my background, but I left ‘Into The Woods’ really wanting to see it live. That said, it's definitely opening this genre up to a greater audience who will hopefully come to appreciate both musicals and (hopefully) live theatre more because of it. The summer musical, well worth a stroll through.