Monday, January 26, 2015

{Movie} Review: Into the Woods

Monday, January 26, 2015 with 7 comments

We all delight in seeing our favorite books brought to life on the big screen.  We cringe at casting.  We scoff at release dates.  All the while, we're gearing up to see if the director's vision lives up to the world we've conceived in our own imaginations.  Sometimes it does...and sometimes it doesn't.  We could lament the movies that don't measure up, or we could return to the books for a re-read, possibly with a slightly different mind-set.  All's fair when it comes to artistic vision, right?

Today, I'm featuring the following movie:

Title: Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt & Chris Pine
Release date: December 25, 2014
Based on: Into the Woods by James Lapine

View on IMDb

A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.

Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.

So, Katie and I had a girls' day on Saturday and took advantage of it by seeing a movie that we knew there was no way on earth her daddy would want to see, not once he discovered that it was a musical. I know a lot of people who unfortunately feel that way, about musicals and foreign films alike, so I miss out on a lot. But I knew Katie would appreciate this film because of its roots in her favorite Disney films and because she just loves singing.

And she actually ended up enjoying the movie a lot more than I did. Don't get me wrong. Cinematically, it was gorgeous to behold. It was so visually stunning, and I guess, audibly, just as gorgeous. But it was rather long and drawn out for my tastes and ended boring me there toward the end.

I found nothing lacking in the acting or the vocal performances. Yes, some actors and actresses were stronger than others, as is the case in any film, but I don't think any one performance can be blamed for my lack of enthusiasm for the movie. I've never seen the original musical that this movie was based on, for which I am very glad considering the changes they made to this adaptation and how they seem to have enraged some because of their omission.

But I love a good retelling. I especially love a story like this that combines several tales into one. And this story is so well done, so auspicious in nature that I was absolutely positive I would love it. I adored Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect, and Meryl Streep is a goddess among women. And I just knew that Chris Pine would play the perfect douche-arific prince to Anna Kendrick's Cinderella. But the pacing kept me from finding this movie as endearing as I'd hoped.

One thing I've noticed I appreciate more and more these days, though, is stories where the young maiden doesn't require saving by a prince or any other male character. That these girls determines their own course of action, their own future, makes me like these modern-day heroines more and more. If only there had been more of those when I was growing up; damsels-in-distress are so last decade. :)

My favorite scene, in case you were wondering, is the one depicted below, where the prince and the "other" prince sing "Agony" on the falls. The whole theater was cracking up during this song and I think even Katie gave way to how ridiculous that whole scenario was. But it was funny and entertaining and really, what more can you ask for?

GIF it to me straight:
I *really* wanted to like this more, and it's agonizing that I didn't. :(

Were you a fan of the original? Have you seen the movie? How do you think it fares as an adaptation?


  1. I swear, everyone was so excited for this but EVERY review I've read for it seems as 'blah' about it as you were. I think it was hyped up too much and because the trailer only showed the tiniest glimpse, everyone had their own idea what it would be like and there was no way it could live up to it.

    Such a shame!

  2. I have been very excited to see this one but no one around me has the desire to see it. I guess I will wait til blu ray which is good if its i a little drawn out and boring towards the end.

  3. I felt exactly the same as you! I haven't seen the original play however I thought the movie was just really long. The whole Giants thing at the end seemed like overkill. I loved the songs, and the acting, and the cinematography, I just thought the pacing was off.

    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

  4. I was also excited to see this film, and left feeling a little disappointed. Particularly with the end. The music was beautiful though and I had Agony stuck in my head for hours after; that was definitely my favourite scene :'D

    Most recent post on Enchanted by YA:

  5. This movie sounded good to me, until I found out it was a musical. Now I'm a bit afraid. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's always more fun to see with a friend. I agree, I like a heroine who isn't a damsel in distress, I'm glad hollywood's finally figured this out.

  6. Hahaha I love the agony part too! I think that was the best part out of all the movie. I also like the part where they were singing the Into the Woods song. Other than that, I was SO BORED with the movie. Okay, first of all, I didn't know it was a musical so when they started singing right at the beginning, I knew I wasn't going to enjoy it as much as I would like to. I do like the plot twist at the end where we see the prince's true color (when he ditched Cinderella). But man, this musical was sooo long that people started leaving the theater. Supposedly this musical had a biblical reference? Like it symbolizes characters and events from the Bible which I thought was really cool since it's not just a retelling of fairytale characters.

  7. I haven't seen this, and I just can't decide if I want to. My best girl friend has already seen it, so I don't know who I'd go with, but still! Lots of people have just said it's average, and now you're convincing me of that more, so I don't know if I'll bother... Meryl Streep is perfection, I agree :)


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