Into the Woods (2013) Film Review

Into the Woods Review

Into the Woods Trailer

Into the Woods Review

It's no secret that I'm a massive fan of the musical Into the Woods. Intertwining and amending the Grimm fairy tales; its endearing, magical, feel when portrayed on stage, coupled with Stephen Sondheim's wonderful lyrics make it one of my favourite musicals of all time. There was no question in my mind about whether I was going to see its recent cinema release, but I do admit to booking my tickets with a niggle of trepidation.

My overall conclusion is that it's a decent film if you've not seen the musical done well on stage, but if you have, the experience is a little mediocre.
Let me begin by noting that this is a musical, and it's a musical with a lot of sung word as opposed to distinct songs. I think the fact that Disney has produced it is fooling a lot of families into thinking it's the next Frozen; be warned that young children aren't exactly a key Sondheim demographic. Plenty of youngsters sitting around me were getting extremely restless and ultimately didn't enjoy the experience. 

I really enjoyed the visuals, the film had a magical feel to it whilst still being grounded in some sort of reality. The cast did better than I was expecting, I mean, they can all sing reasonably well - I particularly liked Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and increasingly warmed to her performance as the film went on. However, I really don't get the hype for Meryl Streep as the witch and found James Cordon's acting to be a little cringy at times!

For some reason, I think probably because the songs had been recorded before filming, the whole thing fell a little flat. In comparison to the production I've seen before, everything seemed restrained; parts that have previously had me in stitches (namely 'Agony') barely raised a chuckle.

My other gripes include the fact that they cut so much of the music. If I remember correctly, all of the 'First Midnight' etc. interludes were gone, as was 'Ever After' and a lot of the reprises. Further, they ended the whole thing really oddly, I mean, what actually happened to the witch? Sadly, 'No-One is Alone' and 'Children Will Listen' failed to have the same impact or meaning as they do on stage. They were seemingly brushed over - the film didn't really have a decent ending!

Further, given that they had cast a child actor (Ex Broadway Annie, Lilla Crawford) as Little Red Riding Hood, the film changed the whole dynamic between Little Red and the Wolf. It (quite rightly given Lilla's age!) lost its sexual undertones, which made 'I know things now' a little bit of a strange, unnecessary, interlude! 

Having said all that, I do appreciate why they made the cuts and I don't think it detracted too much from the piece as a whole. Even though this has been a relatively negative review, the film still contains the millions of metaphors that make it one of my firm favourite musicals. It will make you think about the trials and tribulations of life in a different way and I think it probably has a certain wow factor if you're going to see it with no preconceptions ... I've just been spoilt by a wonderful production in the past!

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