Film Review: Into the Woods

First, a disclaimer: I have only seen the film version of Into the Woods, but I have listened, extensively, to the stage production soundtrack.

Into the Woods, starring among others Anna Kendrick and James Corden, was on the whole delightful. It maintained a fairytale feeling while being incredibly relatable. Who doesn’t understand the conflict that comes with being afforded the opportunity to have what you want only to be confronted with the realization that what you thought you wanted is not actually what you want? Or that straying from a set plan has unforeseen consequences?

The score is beautiful. My favorite music accompanies “Agony,” a duet between the two princes. The scene is a show stealer, with Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen lamenting the difficulties of being “always ten steps behind” and “always ten steps below.” Although “Agony” is wonderful, the best songs are more serious and the ensemble numbers are perfectly balanced.

The cinematography is just as excellent as the score. CGI is a small part (with a sky-high beanstalk and a giant being the main CG features). One of the best scenes accompanies “On the Steps of the Palace” and doesn’t have any CGI, although in order to accomplish this, Chris Pine had to stand still on a staircase for three days.

And finally, the acting is fabulous. Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife is perfect. Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood is brilliant. And the entire cast just works. (Meryl Streep as the Witch was probably my least favorite part, controversial I know.) The interactions between the characters and their stories work because of the actors.

I give this film an enthusiastic two thumbs up. Five stars. The most of whatever we use to judge films these days. Everyone should see it.

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