‘Into the Woods’ review: not your typical fairytale

By Ivan Mateo

On Christmas Day, Disney and Director Rob Marshall brought Stephen Sondheim’s Tony award-winning Broadway musical, “Into the Woods,” to the big screen.

If audiences expected sunshine and rainbows with “Into the Woods,” then they might be sorely disappointed. “Into the Woods” is not your typical fairy tale with a fairy tale ending. They are based on the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, which are much darker than the typical Disney story.

Fairy tales generally have a cyclical nature to their storytelling, and “Into The Woods” does not stray too far from this formula, albeit with a couple curveballs along the way.

“Into The Woods” tells the story of four well-known fairy tale characters: Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy). Most of the characters venture into the woods out of necessity to complete some sort of task, whether it’s ridding a family curse, skipping to Grandma’s house, being stuck in a tower and so forth.

The central focus and uniting tale between all the fairy-tale characters is the story of the Baker (James Corden) and the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt). Both are cursed by the Witch (Meryl Streep) to never have children, because of the past wrongdoings of the Baker’s family to the aforementioned Witch. The Witch provides an adventurous opportunity for the Baker duo to break the curse, and for the Witch to become youthful once again.

Some portions of the film dragged on, especially since the prototypical fairy-tale ending comes, but passes with not everyone receiving his or her joyous moment. Sorry, Disney lovers. I did warn you.

A handful of standout songs demonstrated their share of funny, poignant and peculiar, but they were all performed simply, uniquely and sometimes powerfully.

“Agony,” performed by Rapunzel’s Prince (Billy Magnussen) and Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine), produced many laughs from the audience. When people sing, they sometimes have beautiful singing voices accompanied by their good-looking singing faces, but Pine and Magnussen do not have this. Their singing faces along with their performance were downright ugly, but in a good way. This can be attributed to their acting skills, because they are not ugly human beings at all. The ugliness was so ugly that the audience generated laughter in droves.

Cinderella, the Baker, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack performed as a quartet to touchingly sing “No One Is Alone.” This song stands atop the rest because of its performance from the four actors and the beautifully appropriate timing of the song.

Rapunzel’s role in the film would definitely be considered a minor one, despite her perceived significance in relationships to certain characters. After a couple scenes and her resolution, she was pretty much an afterthought (Her ending was altered from the musical for the film, but this doesn’t change how minor her role was.) Speaking of cameos, Johnny Depp appears as the Wolf lustfully and creepily plotting to eat Red and her grandmother. Directors must be faithful to the source material, but this seemed more disturbing than necessary.

The intertwining of the different fairy tales shared a ludicrous coherence to them. They worked well in some parts, but fell quite short in others. Corden and Blunt exuded chemistry in each of their performances, easily solidifying themselves as the most consistent set of characters. Streep transforms herself physically and metaphorically for each moment she appears on screen.

Unknown places like the woods will always be frightening, but sometimes courage must be sought out in order to become who we were supposed to become or to see who we truly are.

“Into the Woods” is rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril and some suggestive material.

“Into the Woods” is in theaters now.

Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

‘Into the Woods’

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