Into the Woods – Movie Review

Into the Woods
Starring Anna Kendrick and Meryl Streep
Directed by Rob Marshall

into-the-woods-movie-photo-6Happy post-Christmas everyone! I hope your Holiday’s were and are fabulous! I, myself, had a great 25th. After a few morning festivities with family, we went to our local movie theater to see Into the Woods, the amazing Sondheim musical gone Hollywood. This is one film I’d been waiting to see, so I was very excited to finally get to see it on Christmas Day.

Now, originally, I was going to plug the last slot of our little 7DOC with an album review, something released recently. However, after seeing this film, I knew the choice was clear. It had to be reviewed. I’ve decided to review this film in a way that will highlight the music of it as well. That’s more than half of the fun of this movie. Just like it Les Miserables a few years ago, the whole of this movie is sung. It is, after all, a musical. So, without further ado, here’s my review of Into the Woods, presented as my 5 favorite scenes/songs:

1. Prologue: Into the Woods

This is the opening scene of the film/musical. It sets the whole story, and introduces the characters that we will come to love so dearly. First, we get to know Cinderella, played by the talented and beautiful Anna Kendrick. Just as in the Cinderella story we all know, she wants to go to the Ball, but her wicked Stepmother and Stepsisters won’t let her, instead throwing a pot of lentils into the fire for her to retrieve. This is the first instance that shows us we’re sticking to the originality of the Grimm fairy tales. Despite this being a Disney film, we’ve kept the bits of darkness that make these tales some of my favorites.

We then meet Jack, from the tale Jack and the Beanstalk. He must go sell his best friend, Milky White the Cow. So, we have Cinderella and Jack, crossing over into each others worlds.

And finally, we meet the Baker and his wife, along with Little Red. Little Red is off to her Granny’s house, and stops by to take some bread. When she leaves, the Baker and his wife encounter the witch, played by acting legend Meryl Streep. The Witch tells them that long ago, in revenge for the Baker’s Father stealing her greens, she had taken their first born child (the Baker’s sister), and placed a curse on the family which made sure nobody in the family would have children. However, she gives them one chance to reverse the curse. They must retrieve four items: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. Thus, we begin our story… INTO THE WOODS!

2. Hello, Little Girl

This has to be one of, if not my one favorite scene. Johnny Depp plays a short role in the film as the “Big Bad Wolf” of Little Red Ridinghood. He stops to say hello to Little Red on her journey. Of course, he plans to eat her, just as the tale has it happen. The song, though, is so upbeat and fun. Johnny Depp brings his classic vibe to the role, and it makes for one of the most enjoyable scenes in the film.

3. Giants in the Sky

I love seeing how much vocal power and talent is held in the younger cast members. Mr. Daniel Huttlestone is only 15 years old, and with this powerhouse of a song, he handles it so well. If you saw Les Miserables, you’ll recognize him as the gallant young Gavroche. In both that role and this role, he acts and sings like someone high above his age. I hope more musical films come to be, and that he will be cast once again.

4. Agony

Okay, if “Hello, Little Girl” was my favorite scene, this will have to be my second favorite by far. In this scene, the two Princes of our story, one after Cinderella, whom he met at the Ball, and the other madly in love with the beautiful girl trapped in the tower (we’ll get to that). In expressing their, well, agony of both situations, and how tragically beautiful their loves are, they perform a duet in which they try to one up each other massively. My favorite part of this song is the moment where Rapunzel’s Prince rips open his shirt, to which Cinderella’s prince responds by trying to rip his shirt even deeper than his Brother. It’s really a scene that will get the whole theater laughing, so it had to be included.

5. Stay with Me

No, this isn’t the Sam Smith song. Instead, is is a track and scene that shows just how amazing Meryl Streep is. In this scene, the Witch has come to the tower where she is keeping Rapunzel, the daughter of the Baker’s Father. She has found out that Rapunzel has been letting a Prince come up to her tower. As punishment, she throws the Prince into a thorn bush which blinds him (again staying true to the Grimm tale), and comes up to the tower to tell Rapunzel that she just can’t do that. Meryl’s vocals are beautiful in this track, and her love for Rapunzel is shown through this. It’s really a beautiful scene, however twisted banishing your stolen child to a snake infested island and blinding her lover is.

In the interest of not giving away too many spoilers, I’m going to stop right here. There are many many more songs I want to highlight, such as “On the Steps of the Palace”, “Witch’s Lament”, and “Any Moment”, but if you’re not familiar with the original musical, I don’t want to spoil the plot for you.

All you really need to know, whether you’re a fan of Sondheim or have no idea who that is, you must go see this movie. It’s a great family film, perfect for spending a day of Holiday in the theater for. Just be prepared to want to go see it again when it’s over. I know I do.

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