As a theatre person, myself, and a skeptic when musicals hit the screen, I was so pleasantly happy with the film adaptation that I highly recommend it for everyone. Fans of the stage production will not be disappointed, nor will new comers to the Woods.
The plot revolves around five main story lines: Cinderella, Little Red Ridding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Childless Baker. They are all interwoven into this wonderful story line. I don’t want to give too much away because it is much better experienced that having it explained. Basically, the first half is all the characters getting their “happily ever after” and the second half, there is this catastrophe that occurs that causes everything to unravel.
The music is genius. Some of Sondheim’s finest work. If you don’t know Sondheim’s work, he loves words and word play. His songs have some of the most complex lyrics ever. Into the Woods is a prime example of this just look up the songs “Giants in The Sky” and “Your Fault” But aside from the lyrics, his music is gorgeous and moving. “No One is Alone” and “Stay With Me” and even “Children Will Listen” are three of the most beautiful songs ever. Sondheim’s music makes up almost 90% of the script. Everything else is spoken. Which is not a lot.
Colleen Atwood was the costume designer for this film and it shows. Her beautiful designs are prevalent in movies such as Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Dark Shadows, ETC. Granted I think i just proved she is Tim Burton’s favorite costume designer. But, I digress, her creations are period and are known to meld the eccentric and whimsical, but they dont take away from the period that is to be portrayed. They are beautiful and intricately color schemed. Its a feast for the eyes. Needless to say, she is one of my favorite costume designers, as well, and I flipped out when i saw her name i the credits.
The world created in this film is gorgeous. I am not sure where the location it was filmed in is located, but it is one of the most beautiful forests anyone could ever hope to get lost in. There are so many different tree styles in the movie and the lighting choices were alluring. It was creepy at times, inviting at times, and comforting even. I loved watching this movie if for nothing but the scenery. The locations were beautiful all around, but my favorite were the scenes at Rapunzel’s tower. It was so ancient looking but flourished with splashes of greens and greys and even a hint of red from the berries on the briar patch. It was beautiful to look at.
Something else that was amazing in the movie were the CGI effects that did not look CGI (for the most part). The best effect in my opinion was the cow. Milky White (The cow) was a real cow for about 90% of the movie but there were at least 3 times during the movie that it became CGI. The most noticeable was when they had to feed things to the cow and it ate a shoe and a cape in the same shot. My other favorite effects were the Witch’s entrances and exits. They were each different and unexpected (to an unknowing audience). And they looked so magical. This movie is chalked full of special effects and they are handled brilliantly.
Overall, I thought this movie was as perfect as it could be for a Disney movie adaptation. As a theatre enthusiast, I had my complaints with some changes made, but as a whole I was very pleased. It is a fantastic film. Everyone should go see it right now! And don’t forget….be careful what you wish for.