January 25, 2015

Movie : Into the Woods (2014)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 5:43 pm

imagesThis is a movie undertaken by Disney after many people pondered how to make this into a movie and had given up. It would perhaps have been better for Disney to give this up too, because the end product does not impress.

This originally was, we understand, a Broadway musical and in trying to make this into a movie, there are several flaws, in my opinion. First, they have not even tried to use the greater leeway available in the cinematic medium to take it up one dimension but have produced with the same effect as a Broadway play, with the result that you get the impression that you are watching a broadway play that has been filmed with a camera at the side of the theatre and it loses everything that could have been gained with a moving, breathing cinematic medium. The costumes are all amateurish for the movie world. Witness the wolf with Johnny Depp with some hair stuck to his hand and I do not even remember if he had a tail. In fact there were no fangs either – elementary mistakes, my dear Watson?

The story is a jumble of confusion. They have tried to sew four (or is it five?) different fairy tales together – The Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk all twisted into one. And there are pointless symmetries, where all of them sing “I wish”… together and prance into the woods at the same time, meeting and greeting each other at will.

The story is painfully convoluted, with all the themes stitched together by Meryl Streep, a woman cursed into being a witch because she lost some magic beans growing in her garden to a husband caught thieving in her garden to satisfy the cravings of his pregnant wife. This happens to be the father of “The Baker” and his wife, who also are the central strings in the story connecting the fairy tales. The witch wants the Baker to collect four items, one from each fairy tale, in order to reverse her own curse, and she, in reward, will life the curse she placed on the Baker’s family so that they then can have a child after all.

The actors are all very theatrical – again, works for the stage, not for the silver screen – and act as if they are in a live play. The costumes and the sets are very amateurish, again stage like – the giant and the giantess (yes there is one) not even being properly managed with special effects.

And then there is the twist to the fairy tales. The Happily Ever After is not the end and everyone is disappointed with their lives thereafter. Even after the killing of the wolf (by the Baker, not a woodsman), Riding Hood loses both her mother and grandma to the depredations of the giantess. Cindarella discovers that her prince is brought up to be “charming not sincere” in his own words, and leaves him; Jack loses his mother – again to the depredations of the giantess; Rapunzel conveniently leaves with the prince rejecting her mother (contrary to every story, hers seems to be a kind of a happy ending after all). The Butcher losses his own wife; the giantess is killed in a manner reminiscent of David and Goliath, another reference to the Biblical lore, if not a fairy tale.

And everyone seems to be very artificial with the notable exception of the Baker (played by James Corden beautifully) and the witch (The inimitable Meryl Streep, who won yet another Oscar nomination for a role in a film. But you know that she can even act as a rock with convincing realism so watching her and the Baker seem to be the only redeeming features in the movie). Even Emily Blunt, as the butcher’s wife, fails to convince, and the others are simply too broadway-like to be convincing in a movie.

A very disappointing movie with very few redeeming qualities.


– – Krishna


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