For Reel

Into the Woods (2014)
January 16, 2015, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Rob Marshall
3 Stars
Into the WoodsIt is somewhat commendable that Disney put forth a decent effort in adapting the more challenging elements of Steven Sondheim and James Lapine’s two-act stage musical about loss and resiliency. But in failing to delve even further into the anxieties regarding sexuality and disappointment that were wrought into the source material–as well as the omission of several key songs–the film version feels like a bit of a mess. The tonal shift that happens is as jarring as it is meant to be, but the transition is nonetheless graceless, with the second half feeling like an uninspired retread of the gritty fairy tale aesthetic exemplified by Snow White and the Huntsman and Maleficent. Marshall keeps his camera moving and close to the actors, achieving a sense of claustrophobia that maintains the foreboding nature of the woods but also rids them of their majesty. There’s no sense of scale; it feels like a soundstage. Although Marshall’s penchant for going off the rails in terms of production design has historically produced mixed results (his last musical was the oft-derided Nine), one wishes for something more visually dynamic than close-ups rendered in dreary, color-corrected blues. Most of the cast is game, though, with James Corden and Emily Blunt being the standouts as hopeful parents.

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