Monday, January 19, 2015

Into the Woods - A Review

This past Friday, my wife and I went on a double date with some friends where we actually went to dinner, a movie, and then dessert afterward.

Our movie of choice was Into the Woods.

Initial review: I really liked it.

If you missed my rant not to long ago, let me remind you: I do what I can to NOT compare a book to a movie. The same goes for comparing a play to a movie.

Why? Why would I not compare them? This goes back to my Apple Theory. If a book is compared to an apple than a movie is comparable to apple pie. The apple itself is only one element in a movie.

Honestly, if I were casting this movie, Bernadette Peters would've been on the big screen. Why? Because I know she was in the play and she is one of my favorite actresses in a fairy tale world. But again, I was not the one casting.

I saw a story that I've seen twice before (I vaguely remember the first one to be honest) and I saw it on a big screen. The story was told well and I loved how the narrator was portrayed. I love the effects and the simplicity of the set. Some of the story felt rush (the play does that too in my opinion.)

Also, the singing wasn't bad. Do I think they deserve Grammys? No. Do I think they deserve praise? Yes. Anna Kendrick was perfect as Cinderella. She wasn't the blonde petite figure that Disney so loves to portray. Ms. Kendrick did a beautiful rendition as the most often retold character in fairy tales. Her singing was good (hello, it's Anna Kendrick.) The other thing about her is she's not a drop-dead gorgeous actress. But her beauty is simple and stronger on the inside. That's what made her a great Cinderella.

I was much more impressed with Chris Pine and James Corden and their singing voices. As much as I was intrigued by Corden's casting as the Baker, I was extremely pleased with his ability to portray the character so well that I don't think I could find a better actor for that role now. He was just perfect for it. Oh...and guess what, this is all subjective so if you don't agree with me...oh well.

But if someone said "Do you think Chris Pine could sing?" I'd be like "doubtful." And I would've been wrong. Again, I'm not handing him a Grammy for his rendition of Agony. But he sang it well enough. The problem I notice with musical fans is that they expect the perfect singers to portray the characters. Singing is a talent independent of acting. Many can do both, but not necessarily great at one of them. Chris Pine did his job as the charming Prince, making him independent of the charming Captain Kirk.

The best casting, in my opinion (besides James Corden) was Meryl Streep. She was awesome as the witch. You're talking about a very talented actress portraying a role she thought she'd never be interested in playing. Kudos to her for playing the witch with such finesse.

And then there's the music. Waking up at 4 in the morning having you brain set on repeat for "Into the Woods" is never ideal. Believe me. I know from experience. Especially since I'm referring to literally those 3 words. But I gotta say I love the style of the music. For the most part, the songs were well done. Agony was hilarious (which is more important than being beautifully done), the opening sequence was continually fun, and Meryl Streep's "Last Midnight" was just so awesome.

I've heard that people said there was too much music. Well, for a musical, yeah there was more than a normal amount. (Comparing to Chicago, for example.) However, it was almost operatic with how much music there was. The story is told through the music as much as its told through the lines. Where in most musicals, the songs seem to segue from one thing to another with only a few songs being a plot movement.

So...when I look at the movie as a whole, I loved it. I'd own it on DVD. I'd let my kids watch it. I found nothing wrong with the film that I should in any way "hate" it. In the end, my favorite movie I've seen in theaters this year. (For those keeping track, the total movies I've seen in theaters this year is 1.)

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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