Soooo, we went to see Into the Woods. This is one of those re-imaginings of an old tale, or in this case several old tales, where familiar characters are given new interpretations. The Wiz (1978) was that sort of thing, as was Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1998), and of course Bugs Bunny was doing it for a long time as was Jay Ward with his Peabody's Improbable History series. Remember the WABAC machine? With Into the Woods, we get Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel rewound into a Broadway musical.
In this case, what you end up with is a visually good looking, well-acted train wreck of a story with competent but forgettable music.
The cast is the highlight of this film. You have a spooky-good performance by Meryl Streep as the Witch, pretty darn good acting from Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife, cute performances by Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince and Lilla Crawford as Red Riding Hood, and pretty good stuff from the rest of the crew. Johnny Depp is in there, but his role is too short and all costume -- not his fault his part is inconsequential.
The film is also pretty good to look at. There are giants and earthquakes and magical coming and goings that were done pretty well. I wondered a lot in this film about how this story might have been done for the stage.
However, what's lacking in this tale is a point. It seems to have been written by committee where the only objective was to do something different with the old characters -- change for change's sake. There may be a point here, but it is lost in the woods.
And sorry Mr. Sondheim, I really can't remember a single song from your score. It was all pretty generic musical theater type stuff -- not bad, just kind of vanilla.
Unless you have a really special reason to see this movie, or just need to get your kids out of the house over the Christmas break, you might want to save your money and wait for this to come out on video.
I pretty much agree with Bernie's point of view on this movie. It was pretty, and at times somewhat funny, but while the vocals were well done, the music was ... meh.
However, there seemed to me to be some clear messages: 1.) When you go after what you want, you may get more than you hoped for, which is not necessarily a good thing. 2.)The woods are full of tricks and uncertainty, which is kind of like life. 3.) You can screw up by giving in to your lust, your greed, your grief, your anger, your obsession ... and that is actually just fine, because everybody does it and it just makes you a more interesting person, so head on into those woods and do it to it.
Certainly everyone makes mistakes, and we all have to learn from them. But Into the Woods was less like learning from mistakes and more like regretting mistakes but then wallowing in them.
Had I been familiar with the play and the lyrics, I would not have spent the money on tickets, not even to see Chris Pine in Prince Charming garb -- though I would have watched him on DVD, so long as I didn't have to buy it.
Finally, two hours was just too long for this film. You expect to get a long show when you go to the theater, but they always have an intermission.
Not going to be interested to buy this one as a DVD, not going to bother watching it on cable.