Handsome princes, creepy wolves and sassy witches, oh my! You’ll see plenty of these in the new star-studded, magical film Into the Woods directed by Rob Marshall. Released in the UK on January 9th 2015, the film is based on the 1986 hit Broadway musical Into the Woods, written by musical theatre god Stephen Sondheim.
Into the Woods centers on a Baker (a loveable James Corden) and his wife (the strong Emily Blunt) who, despite wanting desperately to start a family, have been cursed with infertility by the witch (the incomparable Meryl Streep) who lives next door. In order to break the curse, the couple must venture “into the woods.” Along the way, they encounter many a quirky character, most based off those in classic children’s fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood (fresh-faced Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Jack (played by the adorably talented Daniel Huttlestone). What ensues is a series of interweaving plotlines with the added touch of Sondheim’s brilliant and complex scoring. Ultimately, the innocuous fairy tales we all know and love are turned on their heads into ones that are twisted and at times very dark in this bizarre yet intriguing fantasy world.
Now, I was less than impressed with Marshall’s two previous musical films, Chicago (2002) and Nine (2009) however, Into the Woods surpass them. The impressive thing about Into the Woods was the overall singing capabilities of the cast in particular, Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep who both displayed vocal chops that I didn’t know they had in them. But what really made the film was that each of the actors—from Johnny Depp’s cameo appearance as the deliciously cunning wolf, to the hilariously vapid Chris Pine as Prince Charming—found ways to make their character unique and carefully balanced comedy with the more genuine and profoundly emotional moments within the script. Furthermore, the cinematography and set design really added to the overall effect of the storytelling.
Overall, I am pleased to say that Into the Woods did not stray too far from the path of the original staged version, apart from cutting a song here and there. It is definitely one worth seeing, musical theatre geek or not.