Woods And Wishes: a review of Disney’s “Into the Woods”
- Runtime: 124 minutes
- Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.
Once upon a time, there was a beloved tale told in song meant to portray other beloved tales of wonder. Confusing? You don’t know half of it. Disney’s last film of 2014 is an epic musical that weaves multiple childhood stories into one big musical adventure, and we here at DisneyExaminer have experienced the wonders it holds. So come, sit a spell, as we give you an overview of what happened when we went “Into the Woods”.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story: it brings classic storybook tales from the Brothers Grim and weaves them into one plot. The tales include “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Bean Stalk”, “Rapunzel”, and “Cinderella”. The way the plot brings the other stories together falls into one same action throughout the film: wishing, which eventually results in consequences, bringing the characters of those fables together to resolve them.
Coming from an 18-year-old whose experiences with musicals of all platforms are scarce (unless you include Les Miserables and High School Musical) it would be safe to say that I enjoyed “Into the Woods” quite a lot for many reasons!
First off, the production value put me in the world of the characters and their story. Although plays and musicals aim to do the same, they are not as accessible to most people and more expensive than going to a theatre near you. The film’s elements including the digital effects, set design, costumes and even the cinematography makes up for the lack of theatricality normally associated with live theatre.
Although the story has been translated into a new medium, one element that made this production famous originally during the 1980’s has been left largely untouched. The original music score of the production dreamt up by Stephen Sondheim, returned as music director for the film, which allowed the award-winning music to entertain a new generation of audience. All the filmmakers had to worry about were the cast and cinematography. Yes, the production value and the music could stand on their own, but they also did their jobs in helping elevate the story. It’s dynamic story with the use of awesome music to do its telling is just a marvelous addition to the movie-going experience.
Speaking of the story, “Into the Woods” brings one’s emotions on a roller coaster ride, the kind of coaster that goes one more round just after you thought that it was over. It has love, passion, music, humor, and most of all: adventure. But what I definitely loved about the film would have to be the morals of it. The story presented on Broadway was changed for the Big Screen, but either way, it tugged on my heart strings. Throughout the duration of the film, the only idea that was recurring in my head was that actually that by going into the woods there would be dangerous and unpredictable circumstances springing about. However, going into the woods distorts personal views either altering a course or getting lost in a different path losing sight of why a dreamer went into the woods in the first place. It’s all certainly human and by using fairy tale characters to tell that moral story, it brings the dream world into our own.
As for our real-world influence in the film, there is an all-star cast that was entirely capable of singing and acting. Johnny Depp is in it, playing the Wolf, Chris Pine as Prince Charming, Meryl Streep as the Witch, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, and Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife. The actors listed here are not even half of the cast and the balance of emotion and comedic relief the writers added to the film is perfectly delivered by each and every one of them.
Overall, “Into the Woods” brings entertainment to everyone who watches. As Disney closes out the year with this film, the studio makes us remember why they make movies in the first place – to make a magical experience for all to enjoy with the help of the woods and wishes. One couldn’t have asked for more. It’s definitely a movie worth spending a golden egg on, and that’s not an invitation for you to steal a magical hen from a giant in the sky who wants you for dinner.
In other words, go watch this movie to close out your year on a magical, musical note.
This review was written by DisneyExaminer writer Lance Cruzado. All reviews are personal opinions and may not reflect the attitudes of other writers for DisneyExaminer.com unless stated otherwise.
These films have been screened prior to the release date for review purposes and therefore are viewed without charge courtesy of The Walt Disney Studios.