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Film Review: Into the Woods

Film Review: Into the Woods

Suitable for 15+!


Into the Woods has had much hype about it. From the very first trailer, Disney fans around the world were getting really rather excited – after all, it’s a blend of some of our favourite fairy stories. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and Jack (from The Beanstalk fame) all meet in the forest in a twisted and coincidental turn of events, banding together in order to achieve their happily ever afters. Be careful what you wish for, though – the story proves that even your wildest dreams may not be all they cracked up to be.


The film has been adapted from a Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. If you’re wondering who he is, he’s basically the US version of Andrew Lloyd Webber – see my ‘inspirational people’ article on him if you don’t know who he is! It originally came out in 1986 in San Diego, the same year the Phantom of the Opera was released.


The songs in the film are all ridiculously catchy – which can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on whether or not you like the songs! That being said, they fit in well with the fantasy theme, but some of them are contemporary enough to become hits in their own right. Highlights include the song “Agony”, where the two handsome princes frolic comically in the river, pining for their princesses. “Stay With Me”, performed by Meryl Streep, is hauntingly beautiful, but of course the title track is the one that you’ll remember the most! The next time somebody even mentions the woods, you can bet that you’ll be thinking of that track in your head.


Meryl Streep is on her usual level – i.e. being annoyingly good, but you can’t hate her, because she’s so good. James Corden branches further out into the Hollywood scene and away from his modest UK comedy career with this film, and his on-screen wife, Emily Blunt, shows why she’s won so many awards recently. It’s a good film for giving child actors a start – the two main children look likely to become big stars in the future. The main villain of the film is played by Frances De La Tour, who always seems to get the (spoiler alert!) giant roles – she was a giant in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, too. The highlight has to have been Johnny Depp’s cameo as Mr. Wolf; he’ll have you shivering or cringing in your seat!


Though entertaining, the film was a little on the lengthy side. In some respects, it’s good that when you think it’s over, it isn’t – it completely disregards the cliché fairy tale ending of Happily Ever After. But, this is just a personal opinion. You might find you prefer it to be longer, so you get better value for money.


The key question is whether it lives up to the hype about its release. In Cinderella’s words – “it’s not quite what I expected”. It was a lot darker and more sinister than I thought it would be, but I think this made it stand out from the crowd. Particularly because it isn’t a Tim Burton film, it’s quite nice that another director is giving it a go, as it stops Burton from getting that dark take on fairytales monopoly. So, the bottom line - if you like Tim Burton, you’ll love this. Even if you don’t, it’s still worth a watch. 4 stars.


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