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Into the Woods (2014)

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I saw this movie on Christnas and liked that it had humor and a moral lesson. The casting, I think, was pretty good; Anna Kendrick was amazing. There were more children in the theaters than I was expecting. It was a grown up fairy tale, but I could see smaller children picking out some popular fairy tale stories.

OH, and the sweet little girl, Lilla, who played Little Red blew me away. I was convinced I'd seen her before, but looking at her credits, I don't think I have. I loved her. At first I wasn't sure about her voice, but no...she was show stopping. She needs to go places if she wants to do so. Between her lively voice to those almond eyes and heart-shaped face and emotional acting...simply the best.

I didn't really think the part about the princes singing about unrequited love was funny, but I liked having a goofy tone at times throughout.

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OH, and the sweet little girl, Lilla, who played Little Red blew me away. I was convinced I'd seen her before, but looking at her credits, I don't think I have.

I thought she looked really familiar too and then realized she has an eerie resemblance to Atticus Shaffer from The Middle.

 

Emily Blunt and James Corden wowed me, but I wasn't terribly impressed by the other actors. Including Streep.

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I saw this yesterday and liked it a lot, despite not being too familiar with the original Broadway work. Kendrick and Streep turned in solid performances, but I was most surprised with Emily Blunt. I didn't know she could sing! I loved all of her songs. And for once, Johnny Depp didn't bug too much.

 

There was a lot of laughter during Chris Pine's scenes. I don't know if they're laughing at him, or just totally amused at how campy his performance was, especially during Agony. But I gotta give it to Chris Pine - he embraced to campiness of his role and even notched it up a couple of levels.

 

One question for those who saw the Broadway production - it seemed to me like Rapunzel is mostly a non-entity in the movie and the movie could have done fine without her, seeing that it's not even her hair that is included in the potion (which reminds me, whose hair qualifies as "yellow as corn" if it wasn't hers? Just any other blonde woman?), and The Baker didn't even find out that they were siblings. Did she play a more prominent role in the Broadway production?

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I saw this yesterday and liked it a lot, despite not being too familiar with the original Broadway work. Kendrick and Streep turned in solid performances, but I was most surprised with Emily Blunt. I didn't know she could sing! I loved all of her songs. And for once, Johnny Depp didn't bug too much.

There was a lot of laughter during Chris Pine's scenes. I don't know if they're laughing at him, or just totally amused at how campy his performance was, especially during Agony. But I gotta give it to Chris Pine - he embraced to campiness of his role and even notched it up a couple of levels.

One question for those who saw the Broadway production - it seemed to me like Rapunzel is mostly a non-entity in the movie and the movie could have done fine without her, seeing that it's not even her hair that is included in the potion (which reminds me, whose hair qualifies as "yellow as corn" if it wasn't hers? Just any other blonde woman?), and The Baker didn't even find out that they were siblings. Did she play a more prominent role in the Broadway production?

Rapunzel 's hair did qualify in the movie, but the witch touched it, so it lost its power for the curse removal.

Johnny Depp's part made me uncomfortable, leering after the girl. I know that's the point to some degree, but boy was the ick factor obvious. Lecherous. But, I love the quote, "nice doesn't mean good."

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One question for those who saw the Broadway production - it seemed to me like Rapunzel is mostly a non-entity in the movie and the movie could have done fine without her ..... Did she play a more prominent role in the Broadway production?

 

I haven't seen the movie, so I can't directly compare but Rapunzel is important in the Broadway production. Since some people may choose to see the Broadway version after seeing the movie, I'm going to be a bit vague, but events concerning Rapunzel lead to the conclusion of the Witch's story arc such that the Witch's story can't be completed without her. Rapunzel is also involved in the Prince storyline, but I think she could arguably be removed to just leave Cinderella and her Prince since Cinderella's Prince is the more plot-significant one. 

 

I do, however, feel that the main first act Rapunzel/Witch scene is key to understanding the Witch's character and really setting her story arc in motion, so I'm intrigued that the movie handled the Witch's arc in a way that Rapunzel felt gratuitous.

 

FWIW, the Baker does know they're siblings in the Broadway musical. The Witch's Rap includes an exchange that's something like the following

 

Witch:...and you shall let me have the baby that your wife will bear/And we'll call it square

 

Baker: I had a brother?

 

Witch: Noooo... but you had a sister

Edited by Zuleikha

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Witch:...and you shall let me have the baby that your wife will bear/And we'll call it square

Baker: I had a brother?

Witch: Noooo... but you had a sister

Thanks Zuleikha. That part is in the movie too. But maybe I just missed the realization by the Baker that Rapunzel is his sister, not just knowing that he had a sister.

Thanks for the other tidbits as well. The Witch had that song with Rapunzel - IMO, Streep's best number in the movie - so I'm not sure if that's what you're referring to in terms of the Witch's story arc. I just felt like something was missing with her, and that maybe it would have bothered me more if I had seen the Broadway play. It just felt like Cinderella, Jack and Little Red Riding Hood's characters were all fleshed out, and Rapunzel's was just kinda there.

Edited by slowpoked

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Okay, I can't do this without a spoiler tag. In the Broadway musical,

Rapunzel is killed by the giantess, resulting in the Witch's despair, a really beautiful/powerful song, and eventual return to witchdom in "The Last Midnight"

. Rapunzel is one of the more underdeveloped characters (she's a secondary character, not a main), but I can't imagine the musical without her.

 

ETA: Oh, I see what you mean about the Baker realizing she's his sister. I've always assumed the Baker figures it out after the potion making scene, but it's never spelled out and it's not a plot or character point in the musical either.

Edited by Zuleikha

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Loved it.  Somewhat different from the play, and not as dark, but still well done.  Emily Blunt's singing voice was a pleasant surprise, and I really liked Lilla Crawford.  Daniel Huttlestone was hard to understand at times, but he did a good job.

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I never saw the play and I can't say I've ever been a Sondheim fan. I decided to see the movie for the actors and to kind of see what a Sondheim play might be like. I thought the film meandered. There seemed to be multiple endings which made me wonder why the end was the end. The singing was good, the lyrics were touching but the music, itself, wasn't memorable. Sondheim is definitely not Leonard Bernstein. I could never see myself remembering or singing these songs again as I do the dishes or other chores, like I might do other Broadway tunes. I think Sondheim is a lyricist in search of a composer.

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I never saw the play and I can't say I've ever been a Sondheim fan. I decided to see the movie for the actors and to kind of see what a Sondheim play might be like. I thought the film meandered. There seemed to be multiple endings which made me wonder why the end was the end.

In the show, the first act breaks right at the end of the song "ever after." In fact, I volunteer as an usher at a theater and we did Into the Woods. I remember hearing some people walked out at intermission thinking the show was over. Guess they didn't read the playbill or missed other people staying?

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I just saw this good article over at Talking Points Memo that delves into the fact that Sondheim wrote Into the Woods in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic that was cutting a swath through Broadway.

 

After all, long before Disney turned them into ways to sell toys, fairy tales were cautionary tales, often told by older women to younger ones to teach them about the dangers of the world. The original Grimm Brothers versions are violent, even cruel, for a reason: They are intended to instruct in a visceral way, through fear. In “Into the Woods,” Sondheim was merely matching his material to his times.

 

 

This reminds me of a great quote from G.K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."

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Saw this yesterday!  It was very well-done, and none of the cast stuck out to me as not being able to handle the material.  Daniel Huttlestone and Lilla Crawford were wonderful.  Anna Kendrick was very good, but I think On the Steps of the Palace was just a bit too high for her.  She got a bit shrieky at times.  Her other songs were much better.  And Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep were great.  It's a shame they didn't cast Bernadette Peters, but Streep was still very good.  

 

I understand cutting Ever After, it would be difficult to not make that seem like an act closer.  Maybe they could have sung it over the presentation of Cinderella as Princess.  Even the end of the title song Into the Woods was a bit "hold for applause" to me.  

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Okay, I can't do this without a spoiler tag. In the Broadway musical,

Rapunzel is killed by the giantess, resulting in the Witch's despair, a really beautiful/powerful song, and eventual return to witchdom in "The Last Midnight"

. Rapunzel is one of the more underdeveloped characters (she's a secondary character, not a main), but I can't imagine the musical without her.

That's rather unfortunate. The actress that played Rapunzel was on The Bold and the Beautiful years ago, and had decent enough talent to pull that off had Disney written that into the script.

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I know they couldn't do it, but

not having the narrator killed off

near the end was disappointing. It was almost as bad as cutting out the opening number in Sweeny Todd. The Blame song is an earworm.

Edited by Notwisconsin

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I loved it.  Meryl freaking OWNED the evil witch part.  Her "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CARES?! moment was hilarious. 

 

I think all the cast did well singing wise, but Lilla Crawford?  Damn, what a pair of pipes!  I hope we see more of her very soon.

 

Chris Pine was definitely a highlight.  The whole "Agony" number was so freaking funny.  And although the Prince was a tool, I couldn't exactly hate him even if I didn't like him.  Is it weird that I liked the whole scene where Cinderella breaks up with him in the woods?  Cinderella could have been angrier, but at the same time, she acknowledged that she was never really sure that the prince was The One, so she couldn't really fault him if it wasn't that right in the first place.  The whole "I shall always love the girl that ran away/the faraway prince" was an acknowledgement that they might have just loved the fantasy of each other than the real person.  And it was sweet in a sad way.

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To me the highlights were Lila Crawford, Emily Blunt and James Corden, and of course Christina Baranski was great in her small role as the wicked step mother.

 

I dunno, Chris Pine was appropriately arch as the Prince but his playing seemed just a tad off, to play camp or make a character buffonish the timing has to be impeccable.   I love Meryl but she really didn't bring anything interesting to the role of the witch, but than again all the makeup, etc separates that character   Ditto Tracy Ullman.

 

Kendricks was the surprise to me, she brought a quirky intensity to Cinderella.  Onw could believe this girl was torn about what she wanted .

 

I do think the movie dragged once the Baker and the wife fulfilled their end of the Witch's bargain and the first "happily ever after" occurred. Maybe they just couldn't commit to the darkness of the source material because it seemed some dramatic  elements, including key deaths were rushed/glossed over. 

Edited by caracas1914

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I thought this was...alright, if a little underwhelming. The cast was great (my favourite was Blunt, with Streep and Pine next) and it's nice to see a modern musical cast (mostly) with actors who can actually sing. Depp was the weak link there, but his role was small enough that it didn't bother too much.

 

In terms of the musical numbers, "Agony" was an obvious highlight for me, along with Meryl's two big numbers. I also really liked Blunt's "Moments in the Woods".

 

Mostly though, I'm not sure that Marshall handled the tone or the pacing all that well. There were some parts where I wished the humour had shone through more, and the tonal shift from comedy to tragedy that comes in the second act could have been handled better. I also don't think the decision to have the giant attack come at the wedding worked. I get that they had to condense some things, and why they would cut the songs at the end of the first act and beginning of the second (since they're such obvious markers of...well, the end of one act and beginning of another), but I really wish they had kept the idea of time passing, and the fact that the cracks have already begun to show since the characters have settled in for life after the Happily Ever After, before the giant comes and everything goes to shit. I'm sure there's some way they could have done it, maybe even with a new song? I read somewhere that Sondheim did write one new song for the Witch, but it was cut from the film.

 

I also wish that a film set in a magic fairy tale world could have been a bit more visually exciting or imaginative. Other than some of the costumes, the look of the film was kind of dull to me. I actually think that's one of the reasons why "Agony" was such a stand out - it was the only musical number that really seemed to be staged with any kind of imagination.

Edited by AshleyN
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I hope Billy Magnussen gets a star bump after this.  I mean, I know he's a Tony nominee, but movies are where you get recognition.  And he's 29, but he looks younger.

He has three more films in the works right now, with second billing behind Tom Hanks in an upcoming as of yet unnamed spy movie.

 

And when Meryl Streep touts you to movie producers for a part, you might be close to making it.

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I also thought Billy was a big standout.  I have to say though I'm surprised he is 29, I actually would of pegged him as older.  He is very attractive but I wouldn't automatically think 29. 

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I know they couldn't do it, but

not having the narrator killed off near the end

was disappointing.

 

Well, technically they cut the narrator out of the movie entirely. The baker is the one narrating the movie.

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I also thought Billy was a big standout.  I have to say though I'm surprised he is 29, I actually would of pegged him as older.  He is very attractive but I wouldn't automatically think 29.

I thought he was a little younger than that. 

 

 

I hope Billy Magnussen gets a star bump after this.  I mean, I know he's a Tony nominee, but movies are where you get recognition

Me too. 

 

 

Edited by Oreo2234

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Sharpie66, that's a wonderful quote. I'd never heard it before and really loved it. Meanwhile, I just caught this, and as a music theatre geek who saw it on Broadway back in the 80s, I had a definite love/hate reaction.

 

The good stuff: I thought the casting was absolutely superb, everybody was in great voice (especially Kendrick, whose range really floored me), and that what we do get is about as good as I think an adaptation of this to screen could be. It's not one of my favorite Sondheim scores -- it's kind of brittle and repetitive -- but I do think it's one of his and Lapine's best works lyrically and thematically, and I thought everyone distinguished themselves admirably (even if I did miss Bernadette Peters, who will really always be the Witch to me). Chris Pine was superb, and I thought "Agony" was even funnier onscreen (although I badly missed the reprise, when both princes are now mooning over Snow/Sleeping Beauty -- princesses they can't wake up).

 

AshleyN, I totally agree about the visuals -- to me, it felt a bit dark and stagebound -- ironic given the fact that they now had the whole wide world to open it up to. I also didn't love the costume design -- Johnny Depp didn't look enough like a wolf, and he really needed to (and I missed the symmetry of having the Wolf played by the same actor as Cinderella's Prince, although I was pleasantly surprised that Disney allowed both his and Little Red's songs to be as dark as they truly are meant to be). I loved the Witch in her hag form and thought she was weirdly beautiful with the mane of blue hair, but once she regained her beauty, I hated the makeup and costume choices and thought Streep just looked stiff, uncomfortable and way way too made-up.

 

But what ruined it for me -- and what I absolutely do not understand -- are the huge cuts to the second act (the "after happily ever after") section, and most of all, the removal of Rapunzel's death from events and the watering down of "Children Will Listen" into a snipped pale version that basically plays over the end credits. I mean, WTF?

 

For me, this one thing hugely and irrevocably diminishes the impact of the story and theme. Rapunzel is a minor character, but her loss is a huge deal to the Witch and is basically the impetus for both the "Lament," "The Last Midnight," and "Children Will Listen." The Witch has spent all of Rapunzel's life frantically (and of course, psychotically) trying to protect her from the world, and losing her is why she tries to give Jack to the giant, why she goes nuts, why she confronts everyone with their sins and foibles, and why she then spirals into "The Last Midnight," where (it's strongly implied) her own mother either enchants or kills her for losing the magic beans (again), depending on your take (bringing the parent/child thing back full circle).

 

For me, the beauty of "Into the Woods" is that, while it's about wishes and fairy tales, it's even more about the fears parents have for their children -- and the fears of what they might be passing on to them, both for good or for evil -- even as the children push back because children leave. It's what they are meant to do.

 

In the Broadway version, almost everyone remaining in the end has lost a parent or child -- The Baker's child has lost his mother, Little Red loses Granny, Jack loses his mother, the Witch loses Rapunzel, Cinderella loses the tree that is her magical connection to her dead mother, and even the giant turns out to be a mother whose rage is understandable, as she treated Jack kindly, and he turned around and stole from her and then caused the death of her son.

 

I just love the way the ending brings all these fairy tales into something that's not just "be careful what you wish for," but that no wish or action occurs in a vacuum, and the movie totally dilutes that.

 

For me, the Witch's loss, and "Children Will Listen," is the heart of the entire story:

 

(WITCH)

Children may not obey,

But children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,
"Listen to me."
Children will listen.

 

So I'm just sort of completely puzzled about how I feel about the movie. On the one hand, it's an almost flawless adaptation from stage to screen in terms of what is presented. But it's like 75% of the show -- the cuts are just too huge -- we lose something like 5 numbers from the second act, and the removal of Rapunzel's death (I guess Disney wasn't going to be on board with the death of one of its animated princesses?) really irrevocably mars it for me.

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the giant turns out to be a mother whose rage is understandable, as she treated Jack kindly, and he turned around and stole from her and then caused the death of her son.

For what it's worth, Jack killed her husband, not her son. 

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I still wonder what happened to Prince Charming. He says he's off to slay the giant, but then never appears again, like when everyone worked together to defeat her. Did he get lost on the way?

It was explained to me that Rapunzel dies and both princes moved on quickly in the stage version, which is kinda a shame, because I liked what they did with Rapunzel and Billy M's prince. Rapunzel and Billy's prince seemed to be the most innocent/genuine characters in the film, so I'm glad that they got the happiest of endings compared to the other characters.

But I can totally understand why cutting Rapunzel's death would squander some of the depth of the story. In the movie, the witch's last song comes off as very much, " I've had it up to here with you people, I'm leaving!"

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Loved this movie, the music was amazing, and great story line. Watching this just makes me want to see the Broadway play. All I could think of when the baker (James Corden) had a son was Stormigeddom Dark Lord of All. Worth a watch again. 4/5

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But I can totally understand why cutting Rapunzel's death would squander some of the depth of the story. In the movie, the witch's last song comes off as very much, " I've had it up to here with you people, I'm leaving!"

While Rapunzel's story changes do cut out some of the Witch's pathos, her final song in the stage production is still pretty much "To hell with all of you."

 

Watching this just makes me want to see the Broadway play.

The DVD of the original Broadway cast (with Bernadette Peters) is still available, I highly recommend it.

Edited by jcin617

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I liked this movie, and the story was written pretty well, all the actors were good, and showed that they had gotten some pretty great voice lessons.. Although I don't like musicals.. I liked the singing but, at the same time this reminded me of why I don't like musicals.. And I liked the dark turn like a lot of said in it..

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I liked the first half fine, but the second half dragged. I've seen a live production and the recorded original Broadway cast and those shows just flew by so I'm not sure why the movie seemed sooooooo slow. Especially since they cut out songs so it should be shorter. Maybe it just didn't have the humor of the live show? Maybe because all the characters just don't seem....connected to each other? The narrator was really missed.

 

 

The DVD of the original Broadway cast (with Bernadette Peters) is still available, I highly recommend it.

Agree.

 

Narrator: If I die, you won't know how the story ends.

Witch: Some of us don't like the way you've been telling it. (It's all in the delivery. I recommend watching just for that one line)

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I recommend the DVD as well, but I have to say my favourite moment is the one where the Baker and the Witch argue over what kind of monster left the enormous footprints behind.

 

"Maybe it was a bear."

"A bear? Bears are sweet! Besides, you ever see a bear with forty-foot feet?"
"A dragon?"
"No scorch marks; usually they're linked."

"Manticore?"

"Imaginary."

"Gryphon?"

"Extinct!"
"Well, maybe it was a giant."
"... Possible. Very, very possible."

 

The rhymes are clever, the pace is nimble, and the delivery is remarkable.

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I never saw the play and I can't say I've ever been a Sondheim fan. I decided to see the movie for the actors and to kind of see what a Sondheim play might be like. I thought the film meandered. There seemed to be multiple endings which made me wonder why the end was the end.

I just saw this and I hated it.  I happen to hate the kind of musical where people are intermittantly singing throughout. So that didn't help but had the story ended where it seemed to logically wanted to I could have dealt with it. But then, man we head off to a lot of nasty things happening and it all seemed so unnecessary. I have to say I didn't see the end because I fell asleep.

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I just saw this and I hated it.  I happen to hate the kind of musical where people are intermittantly singing throughout. So that didn't help but had the story ended where it seemed to logically wanted to I could have dealt with it. But then, man we head off to a lot of nasty things happening and it all seemed so unnecessary. I have to say I didn't see the end because I fell asleep.

 

ymmv, but it's a musical, I'm not sure I understand what you were expecting.  The off in a different direction was the second act of the play, after the intermission.  It makes more sense as a play.

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Some people do have a preference for musicals where there is spoken dialogue interrrupted by songs; a lot of musical theatre (including most of Sondheim's output I think) is actually closer to opera, as it is sung throughout (or mostly sung, with some interjections of spoken dialogue, I guess). Into the Woods definitely fits into the latter class. And Sweeney Todd was, I believe, considered an opera when it was first staged. Some pieces, like Les Misérables, and Tommy, just off the top of my head, have been called "rock opera."

It's not going to work for everyone -- but I don't think it counts as false advertising, exactly.

Edited by Sandman
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It may also be somewhat clearer in the stage version that the point is what happens after "... happily ever after." Everybody gets their wish in the first part. Then they have to deal with the consequences of their choices in the second part.

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