After the mixed-bag that was Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables (with its swooping cinematic shots to be contrasted with the unique voice of Russell Crowe), it's fair to be a little sceptical of Into the Woods. Star-studded movie adaptations of successful Broadway shows are always a little hit-and-miss: the hits including Chicago, and the misses including Phantom of the Opera.
However, it can definitively be said that Into the Woods is a hit. It feels like a recording of a live show that somehow has the money to build a gigantic set and make CGI real, rather than a typical Hollywood blockbuster. The amount of autotune is probably around medium to high, but it’s done well enough that it isn’t distractingly obvious. The casting was also spot-on – James Corden was an excellent choice to play The Baker, and Lilla Crawford shines as Little Red Riding Hood. While Meryl Streep is also wonderful as the Witch, it’s actually Chris Pine who gives the most memorable performance. He plays Prince Charming, and his part of the duet Agony is probably the funniest part of the whole film. I laughed every time he came onscreen, partly because his flirting is hilariously overwrought, but also because I was genuinely a bit flustered.
As can be seen, this film has a lot of famous people in it. There were definitely a few moments of ‘Wait, what’s Anna Kendrick doing here?’ and ‘Is that Johnny Depp? I’m pretty sure that’s Johnny Depp’ from my cinema-going companions. It’s therefore very well-acted, and there’s not a weak link in the entire group. This film sticks very closely to Sondheim’s vision, and if you’re not a fan of continuous music, this might not be for you.
See it for Meryl Streep rapping, at least.