Into the Woods is, or was originally, a play by Stephen Sondheim, which melded 4 classic fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk) into one unique story, through the introduction of two new characters, the Baker and his wife. Then one day, Rob Marshall was minding his own business, taking a stroll down Navy Pier, when a thought occurred to him. “I should- I should make a movie. A new movie. I need to make one.” Just then, or rather, about 20 minutes later, he was struck in the face by none other than James Lapine. So Rob Marshall was like, “First of all, rude. Second, we should make a movie.” And thus the movie Into the Woods was conceived. How did it turn out?

This may seem like a weird thing to bring up first, but it was about 45 minutes too long. I know that it’s based on the play and it tells the same story as the play, but if you’re going to make a movie, you have to be liberal with some thing to keep the pacing up. It all falls apart around when the Giant’s wife starts attacking the village. I couldn’t even tell you what happens after that. The witch dies, I think. Jack’s mother dies. That’s about all I can recall.

Before that moment, however, it’s actually really good. I especially liked Meryl Streep’s over-the-top performance as the Witch. She was really dynamic and fun, and when she died, the movie died with it. I also admire Chris Pine’s role as Prince Charming. He gives a lot of depth to a formerly-one-dimensional character. Chris Pine never ceases to amaze me. While we’re at it, I would have liked to see a bit more of Johnny Depp’s Big Bad Wolf. He was a pretty basic Johnny Depp character archetype, but sometimes you need a little Johnny Depp, y’know? Other than that, everyone else did pretty decently. I really liked the kids that played Little Red Riding Hood and Jack. Good child actors are a rare breed.

The musical numbers were fun and lively for the most part, but once again, they seemed to get slower and harder to pay attention to as the film went on. The imagery and choreography was… mixed. It was certainly easy to pay attention to, and a few scenes (usually involving the Wolf) were actually really well-done, cinematographically. It was a bit too dark at times, but usually just serviceable.

There were a few twists and turns to keep you interested throughout. It’s fun to see how the filmmakers manage to weave the stories together. Although, the Rapunzel storyline enters a bit too late in the game (at least 45 minutes in), and it’s hard to get invested in Rapunzel and her prince. I can’t comment on how similar it is to the play, since I’ve never actually seen the play in its entirety, but it’s a pretty decent movie.

I guess I’d give it a B-. If you’re a fan of the play, or of musicals in general, or of Meryl Streep, or just need a movie to see, maybe you should check it out. Like this review if you like this review, follow me if you follow me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…

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