Into the Woods Movie Review

into-the-woods-movie-quotesWith no prior knowledge of the Sondheim musical, I walked into the theater simply excited to see Meryl Streep as an eccentric witch and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf.

Into The Woods blew me away.

Although I didn’t get as much Depp as I had hoped, Disney’s venture down a dark and controversial path sends shivers down spines with stunning visuals and electrifying performances. I wanted to burst into applause after every song—the music is seamlessly integrated—and our audience actually did, after the marvelously comedic rendition of “Agony” by Chris Pine, who plays the Prince, and Billy Magnussen who plays The Other Prince. It’s a musical score worthy of accolades with vocals that do not disappoint.

Movie-making aside, the core story is nothing like the happy-go-lucky Disney retellings—and I love it. From what I’ve read of the musical synopsis, the movie takes leaps in bringing the story to life without sacrificing the essentials. Into The Woods follows the original Grimm fairytale endings more closely than any interpretation I’ve seen before, and it’s truly a treat when these well-known characters, fresh in our eyes, cross paths.

Keep in mind that while this Disney movie deals with death, lying, stealing, child abandonment, and infidelity, it doesn’t glamorize these themes or push them under the carpet. Instead, the reader is allowed to make his own conclusions. The woods, a character in itself, exemplify life as a metaphor, augmenting both the good and ugly human qualities. The message closest to my heart is in the song “No One is Alone,” a song about loss that struck a deep chord. The movie also presents a warning about wishes and actions that can turn into generational curses. The richness of each character, the comedic/dramatic balance, and the powerful songs coalesce to form one of the best movies of 2014, and one of the best musical adaptations ever.

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About Cassandra Hsiao

Cassandra Hsiao is a senior at OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts). Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and National Student Poets Program. She has been chosen as finalists of playwriting competitions held by California Young Playwrights, The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, and Princeton University. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in TeenReads, Jet Fuel Review, Feminine Inquiry, Aerie International and more. She also conducts print and on-camera interviews as a Star Reporter and Film Critic for multiple online outlets. She won a National Gracie Award in Student Online Video Host Category by The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation .

Posted on December 19, 2014, in Movie Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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