By Karen Hsueh
A star-studded cast is a definite advantage when it comes to publicizing movies; however, the star-studded cast of Into the Woods did little to improve the film’s quality. This musical-to-movie adaptation proudly boasts a talented panel of actors and singers, but its storyline is filled with neverending twists, a factor that makes the music amazing but the film confusing, annoying, and, at best, mediocre.
The movie starts out by introducing a hard working baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), who are unable to have children. Three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep plays the wicked witch, who casted a spell on the family, causing the wife’s infertility. To reverse this spell, the couple must bring the witch four objects: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. With these objects come the characters’ respective story lines: Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and the Beanstalk for the cow, the Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) for the cloak, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) for the slipper, and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) for the hair.
As a musical, the score itself is without a doubt amazing. The wordplay involved in the lyrics is genius, and the complicated melodies and harmonies are hard enough to execute, let alone execute well. The singing is close to perfect, especially on Kendrick’s part. Into the Woods, however, is a movie, and as a movie, the combined special effects, sound, scenery, and transitions are a huge cause for headache, especially for those not used to fast-paced scenes. The acting is also not up-to-par, as it seems that the cast members are more focused on their singing than their acting. Thankfully, Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the witch has enough raw emotion to make up for the deficit in other characters, such as the Little Red Riding Hood and Jack.
The audience watches the movie expecting a “happily ever after,” and what makes this film so unique is that it never truly achieves its fairytale ending. The movie pushes and pulls. Just as you think the movie will end happily, the storyline swerves, creating another conflict. These endless anticlimaxes do get boring and make the second half of the movie seem pointless. The 124 minute runtime could have been cut in half without any serious damage to the film.
Into the Woods had the potential to be amazing ― the cast is talented, the storyline is interesting, and the concept as a whole is so unique. There is humour, there is romance, but there is also frustration on the audience’s part, and a little too much of it at that. Still, the movie is worth seeing for the music, Meryl Streep, and an extraordinary spin on the Brother Grimm’s classic stories. As one of the biggest and most advertised productions of the new year, disappointment in the movie seems almost inevitable. Indeed, “I wish” the directors kept the musical as a musical.