By Lisa Nault
I wish, more than anything, to see this film again. The music in the “Into the Woods” soundtrack is simply beautiful. The tunes will get stuck in your head and you will feel compelled to sing so loud that the giants in the sky will hear. The performances by the star-studded cast and the costume designs make this film worth watching.
Many people heard the cast list and knew there was no way they were going to miss seeing the movie in theaters. The story combines several fairy tales together including the Grimm brother’s “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” and “Little Red-Cap.”
Meryl Streep plays the witch, Anna Kendrick is Cinderella, Johnny Depp is the wolf, and Lilla Crawford is Little Red Riding Hood.
Surprisingly, Depp was only in the film for a short amount of time. From the trailers, one would expect his role to be bigger. He is in about three scenes with one song and disappears after roughly five minutes. His character does not need any more screentime, as he leaves an impression on the audience with his creepy “Hello, Little Girl” song and wonderfully outlandish wolf-suit.
Other main characters in the story are the baker and the baker’s wife, played by James Corden and Emily Blunt, Prince Charming is played by Chris Pine, and Jack from “Jack and the Beanstalk” played is by Daniel Huttlestone. Huttlestone may look familiar to some since he played Gavroche in 2012’s “Les Misérables.” He was one of my favorite performances in the film along with Billy Magnussen, who is Rapunzel’s Prince.
Both of these actors have strong vocals and remain in character during their songs. Huttlestone portrays an innocent and naive child perfectly while Magnussen captures the sweet, Romeo-style perspective of love—in love with the idea of being in love.
Overall, I agree with the casting choices with the exception of one. Chris Pine as Prince Charming was decent. I expected a prince who looked like an innocent sincere guy, which would make the reveal that he is not sincere all the more surprising.
Maybe it’s just the fact that Pine has played characters who tend to be unfaithful, but I was not shocked by the turn of events. Also, Pine’s singing is okay. The song itself is “Agony” and it is hilarious, but he can not hit some of the lower notes the song requires. His acting is fine, but compared to everyone else he appears to be lacking.
A key component that makes the film great is the entire design. As I already stated, Depp’s costume is very creative and perfectly captures the character. Meryl Streep’s whole look is incredible. The transformation from being the “ugly” witch to the “beautiful” witch mimicks the two sides of the witch perfectly. On the one hand, the witch is all over the place—her thoughts tend to jump from place, she reacts dramatically to everything, and she switches emotions quickly.
However, she also is calculating, she looks at situations from different perspectives, and she understands that sometimes the tough decisions that have to be made are not good but are right.
The costume and makeup parallel these two sides with one that has Streep’s hair look like a huge, matted bird’s nest gone awry, eyes that have huge dark circles under them, and a dark layered dress that sprawls. The other costume is refined, with a specific pattern of crossing lines, the color changes to a concrete blue color pallet, withher hair still all over the place but in a much more refined and specific manner.
The setting is perfect, the songs are not only fun to listen to but are also enjoyable to sing along with, and the film’s direction is spot on.
While parts of the film seem rushed and other moments can last a tad too long, it will not take away from your viewing experience.
You will certainly have a good laugh. You may even get nostalgic about your first experience with these timeless stories. Leaving the theater, you may want nothing more than to own the soundtrack to listen to over and over again. But remember, you have to be careful what you wish for.