Review: Into The Woods (2014)

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Adapted for the screen by original writer James Lapine, Into The Woods – the long running Broadway play – succeeds in its transition under the direction of Rob Marshall. A childless baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) set off into the woods to lift an ancient curse put upon their family by an evil witch (Meryl Streep), where they encounter familiar faces and learn difficult truths. The film is sharply scripted and effectively combines elements from four familiar fairy tales with the overarching story of the baker and his wife. A playful first half transitions into darker territory (matched by the production design) for the second hour, when the story explores what happens after the wishes of the characters have been accorded. There are, however, a few flaws worth mentioning. The finale is perfunctory in comparison to what comes before and the songs, all of which are original Stephen Sondheim recordings, are neither instantly catchy, nor particularly memorable (a few exceptions aside). Yet all are performed well by the cast, most of whom thrive in their respective roles. Streep is suitably wicked, while Blunt and Anna Kendrick (as a feminist Cinderella) manage to nail their respective characters’ complexities. Into The Woods succeeds with edge, wit and a dedicated cast, even if it does possess a few holes here and there.

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