Into the Woods (2014)
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“Into the Woods” has always been a bit of an oddball in the Broadway canon, primarily for its sharply dichotomous first and second acts and for Sondheim’s typically atypical compositional style. It’s a strange and messy show that’s always going to divide audiences—there’s a lot of singing, and a lot of darkness. In short, this is tricky material to adapt to film, and Disney deserves kudos for keeping most of the sharp edges of the original material intact.
This isn’t a great movie—visually, it’s quite drab, and some of the omissions (particularly in the transition between the film’s more traditional first half and darker second half) make the pacing seem a bit choppy. Marshall does a serviceable job adapting the material (partially redeeming himself for his butchery of “Nine”), but one can’t help but wonder what a truly visionary director might have been able to do with this complex, subversive, messy material.
With all that said, there’s a lot to like here, and it’s still a solid adaptation of middle-tier Sondheim (and, in my book, “weaker” Sondheim is still better than most things out there.) The ensemble is excellent (even James Corden is tolerable), with Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife a particular standout. Most of the actors can actually sing, which is always a plus in a movie musical. Most importantly, it’s funny and moving in the right spots, and the profundity and beauty of Sondheim’s insanely clever and wise (though occasionally more strained than in his best works) lyrics and Lapine’s script are still there for those willing to listen.
The cast did a great job (although I think Corden was an odd choice).
The songs weren't bad, but they just weren't great.
The movie just felt way too long.
I enjoyed the first act, the second act just fell flat on its face.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!