I have no idea what to expect when I rocked up at the cinema to see Into the Woods, I knew it was a musical but I didn't know if it was serious like Les Miserables or funny or complete fantasy. It seems I was surprised on all counts...
Somehow I didn't even realise it was a musical until about a week before it was released in cinemas, and then my other half wouldn't go with me! Boo...
Into the Woods is the story of a Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are desperate for a child but in order to be able to do that they have to lift a curse put on their house by the wicked witch (Meryl Streep). They venture into the woods to gather four items that the witch needs to reverse the spell, at the same time Cinderella happens to be in the woods running from her prince, Jack is escaping and giant from the beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood is wandering having lost her Grandmothers house and Rapunzel is banished there by the queen.
This is a great mixture of lots of different fairy tales but it took me at least half an hour to settle into it. In this first half an hour I was desperately trying to take the film seriously (and losing) and finding it cheesy and awful. But then, I was about to give up when the Prince brothers (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) meet in the woods and break into a rendition of Agony, which was hysterical. This brought me back, I stopped taking it so seriously and enjoyed it for what it was. It has it's serious moments, comedy scenes and completely ridiculous sections but I was engrossed. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen and, considering these are well known fairy tales, I had not idea what was going to happen next.
I know there have been some mixed reviews about this but I think the benefit for me is that I haven't seen (or heard of) the stage version (which I have been told is better by far). This meant I went in with no expectation and because of that I was pleasantly surprised. The music, what can I say about the music, it took a bit to get used but it was totally gripping, I have already downloaded the soundtrack and the original stage version (as there were some songs missing in the movie) and I can't wait to listen to them.
I didn't even know it was based on a stage show until now, oops! It makes perfect sense now. The music got me instantly and I found myself humming 'Into the Woods' all evening, much to the annoyance of my fiance. Could anyone else listen to Chris Pine singing for hours on end? Is it too late to cast him for Pitch Perfect 2?
After all that though, there was one clear cut highlight of the whole film. That was Meryl Streep. She stole every scene she was in with complete ease and her singing voice is unreal (apparently she sang everything live even though she has pre-recorded the songs). Last Midnight was amazing, so much so that it gave me goosebumps. Is it just me or (once she was made young again) did Streep look as good in this as she did in Death Becomes Her way back in 1992, she has got some good ol' genes!
The film is pretty much in two halves, and the first half was amazing, the second dragged a little and there was a huge break between songs which wasn't great, but the twists in the story made it worthwhile I think.
I know many won't agree with me but I really loved this, I can't wait to learn all the songs and then (attempt) to sing along.
Apologies to Jenna's neighbours, because I'll be blasting this soundtrack in the car on my way to her house next time I see her!