Into the Woods

 

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Stephen Sondheim’s canny mosaic of all things fairy tale is given a classy workout by Rob Marshall.

 

Into the Woods
If you go down... Emily Blunt and James Corden

 

Following his accomplished adaptations of the Broadway musicals Chicago and Nine, Rob Marshall now grabs Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods by the horns. A complex weave of the fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, the show dexterously shuffled our notions of these legends and came up with something altogether more elaborate and darker.

 

Marshall’s skill is to inject enormous humour and clarity into the interlocking narratives and to bring Sondheim’s ingenious lyrics to resounding life. Employing a combination of Broadway and West End performers – and bona fide movie stars – the director has created a work of exuberant originality, in which the magic of CGI more than augments the original stage craft.

 

It goes without saying that Meryl Streep is astonishing as the Witch, leaving Emily Blunt as the real surprise who, as the Baker’s Wife, exhibits a stunning voice. The only caveat is that the show’s original edge has been somewhat blunted by Disney’s misguided aspiration for a PG certificate. Regardless, this is not a film for all the family. Broadway buffs should be in thrall.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, MacKenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen, Lucy Punch, Frances de la Tour, Joanna Riding, Annette Crosbie, Simon Russell Beale.

 

Dir Rob Marshall, Pro Rob Marshall, John DeLuca, Marc Platt and Callum McDougall, Screenplay James Lapine, Ph Dion Beebe, Pro Des Dennis Gassner, Ed Wyatt Smith, Music Stephen Sondheim, Costumes Colleen Atwood.

 

Walt Disney Pictures/ Lucamar Productions/Marc Platt Productions-Walt Disney.

124 mins. USA/UK/Canada. 2014. Rel: 9 January 2015. Cert. PG.