By Darin Skaggs
For Disney this time might be the high point in their whole career. They own many properties such as most of Marvel, and Star Wars. They attempt to retell classic stories, they release basically one Pixar a year along with a regular Disney animated film which are always good if not great. They are on top of their game releasing all the big money makers theater wise and luckily for us most of them are quality entertainment. Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods is a musical adapted from a play from the 1980’s that sadly does not fall into the quality side of Disney’s catalog.
Into the Woods tells the tale of a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who due to the baker’s father’s past run-ins with a witch (Meryl Streep) cannot conceive. The only way to break the spell is to collect several items only held by characters from other fairy tales like Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and his trusty bean stock, Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Muazy). The baker and his wife head, you guessed it, into the woods for their mission to break the curse before three midnights pass.
The music in the film is really good, not too memorable with the exception of a few including a one with the two love struck princes (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) called “Agony” and the melody to the title track. You probably won’t find yourself humming many other tracks from the soundtrack in the coming days after viewing the film. It takes more of a Le Mis approach and just lets the characters sing the dialogue and exposition. The songs do not really stand out as songs you can listen to when out of the film. Then there is Johnny Depp who plays the Big Bad Wolf who tries to eat Little Red Riding Hood and her poor, sick grandmother. He is just doing what he always does, he playing a weirdo in an auto-pilot performance. It does not really help he is given the creepiest song in any musical as he sings about wanting a little girl.
For about the first forty minutes the very interesting premise really shows off what it could be. Then for the second half it pretty much falls apart at the seams. It does not really have a story to tell, it makes conflict then kind of brushes it off by easy solutions and just killing off people who the story does not need anymore. This is the real tragedy of the film, it takes off so well, it is so interesting, but does not have a place to land so it crashes and burns completely by the end. There is no pay off for some characters and some who do are not satisfying.
Into the Woods is a solid musical. Then the second half comes in making everything fall apart and a feeling of disconnect from the first half. It has great performers; you could say it is perfectly cast, except good old Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf. This is one that will be a big hit for a while then probably die out with time.