Film Review: "Into the Woods"

Saw Disney’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” and it was an experience that left me wanting for more. I never watched the Broadway musical nor was I aware of what the story was about except for what Disney was teasing in their promos and trailers for the movie. I know there’s a witch, a wolf, a girl with a red hood, a young lady calling herself Cinderella, a baker and his wife.

The movie opens with a rousing musical suite introducing some familiar fairy tale characters who are oddly not so similar to the characters we have grown to know and love. Cinderella, for example, does not have a fairy godmother but a dead mother who grants her wishes. Little Red Riding Hood loves her cookies so much to the point of stealing them from the hapless baker. Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk tale is charmingly dimwitted. And there’s a subplot involving Rapunzel (who I am tempted to call a slut because she hooks up with the first prince she meets!), the evil witch and the childless baker.

“Into the Woods” is an enthralling invitation for fairy tale fans to venture into another world where the fairy tale characters act differently and almost irreverently – and the latter is where I had issues with it most. Being unfamiliar with the world that Sondheim created, I went into the cinema expecting a grand Disney spectacle that takes its subject matter seriously and offers its audience some escape into the magical world inside the woods, filled with witches, princesses and princes and fairies – but I was so wrong!

When I go into a Disney movie, I always expect the child in me to be satisfied. I want wonder, I want magic. "Into the Woods" feels too adult at times that I worry that the kids may not find the film to their liking.

And I would put the responsibility about the movie squarely on director Rob Marshall’s shoulder. Had he embraced the farcical tone of the musical and made all the characters cheeky from the start, my expectation about the film would have been set right instead of myself wondering why nearly everyone in the theater were laughing hysterically to Chris Pine’s characterization of Prince Charming that I had to whisper to my friend and ask what it was that I am missing. She told me why and that’s when it dawned on me that the story was not supposed to be taken seriously. But it was already too late. My disappointment lingered and that prevented me from totally enjoying some of the grandest movie production designs this year and Meryl Streep’s bravura turn as the evil witch.

The cast are uniformly good but the uneven narrative and inconsistent storytelling style makes you wish yourself for a better adaptation.

Rating: 2 Stars

No comments :

Post a Comment