Dreaming can be dangerous (Into the Woods movie review)

Rob Marshall in his movie “Into the Woods” uses threads from well-known fairy tales like Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood to create his own story composed of magic and mysteries that focuses on the baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who, dreaming about having their own child, must break a curse of the bad witch (Meryl Streep). The couple of protagonists, wanting to change their fate, agree to fulfil 4 wishes of the evil woman’s. To do this they must enter the mysterious forest, where will soon find out if what they dream about is what they really want…

“Into the Woods” is a humorous and heart-catching musical featuring a galaxy of Hollywood stars. The film combines classic motifs known from the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers and Disney productions in a fun and reckless way: Marshall’s story is full of magic and charm, but at the same time it gets brutal and thrilling, even for the adult audience.

In the magical forest the baker and his beautiful wife young Jack with his magic beans, Cinderella and her charming (though not necessarily honest) prince and Rapunzel, who has finally discovered what love is. The director invites us to the absolutely stunning world and charms us with old stories about fate, dreams, and magic. He creates a breath-taking, wonderful spectate that makes you watch it with flush on your face.

What’s important, this story, contrary to the appearances, is not just another affable tale by Disney. The creators add to the script a lot of spiciness: ambiguous scenes with sexual overtone and quite violent moments that obviously fit to Grimm brothers books, but not necessarily to the previous productions of the most famous fantasy film company. Here Cinderella’s evil sisters (as in the original), to push their foot into the slipper, cut off their toes or heel. Here, not all of good characters live happily ever after. The movie is less brutal than its Broadway version, but you’ll be surprised a few times anyway. The director decides to keep most of the images dark and dreary.

Marshall doesn’t hide the theatrical nature of both – plot and entire presented world. That’s why the scenery is stunning, but at the same time very simple and conventional. Is some scenes, for example when the wolf (Johnny Depp) swallows the grandma the director doesn’t go for sophisticated special effects, but plays with the form and theatrical potential of the story.

As “Into the Woods” is a musical the songs remain the dominant part of the narration. Vocal performances of all actresses and actors are pretty stunning – Marshall wants them to make shows and they follow this instruction. Some of the singing scenes slow down the action more than the others, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem, because it becomes very serious that the creator just enjoy the musical element and want the audience to lose themselves in this beautiful madness too.