Into The Woods
It was in the late 90’s that I found out about Into The Woods; A musical where a few fairy tales are intermixed within the same world: Little Red Riding Hood on her way to her grandmother’s, Jack and his beanstalk, Cinderella and others. The original version I saw contained Tony Award winning actresses Joanna Gleeson and Bernadette Peters. That being said, it’s a high standard to live up to.
One of the benefits of movie musicals is the ability to extend the realism from a stage with a forest backdrop to an entire countryside. Along with the great performances, the cinematography of this fairy tale land was much more real (despite my appreciation for the original stage version). One of the drawbacks is that, usually for reasons of time, scenes and songs get cut (otherwise the film may be too long for some viewers). As much as these scenes/performances were noticeably missing, this film is much more than a highlight of the Broadway show.
When it comes to performances, it doesn’t take long to see the amount of vocal talent this cast has. Lately, with the success of Pitch Perfect and its coming sequel, Anna Kendrick has definitely proven she can sing, as well as making this performance of Cinderella her own. With Lilla Crawford, hot off being the title character in the recent revival of Annie, she definitely delivers a great wide-eyed Little Red Riding Hood. The boy that plays Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) may also look familiar, as he played Gavroche in the recent Les Miserables movie. As you’d expect, Meryl Streep does a wonderful job as The Witch.
Everyone plays their roles fantastically, including Johnny Depp as The Wolf, but there was a big surprise: Emily Blunt. Personally, she hasn’t been on my radar much until recent years. Mostly I saw her as the supporting character. Now with her as The Baker’s Wife in Into The Woods, she has proven even more talented in a leading role. Specifically, the surprise of her vocal talent matching that of her co-stars. An Academy nomination would not be surprising.
Overall, I would strongly recommend the movie. If you’re a fan of the Broadway show, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re simply curious, you’ll be happy you chose to see this one.