Into The Woods

Into the Woods

In Theatres: 
Dec 25, 2014
Lost in the woods?

According to Anna Kendrick, the set pieces used for the woods were so big and realistic that she and Chris Pine actually got lost while on the sound stage and had to be rescued by a production assistant.

Based on the wildly popular Broadway musical penned by Stephen Sondheim this big screen version is lush and hilarious, stocked with incredible performances.  Although I was aware of Into The Woods being a musical (even though trailers greatly play down that fact), I didn’t know it was Sondheim, but the orchestration and sound is unmistakable.  


ITW takes several fairy stories we’re all familiar with, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone)& the Beanstalk, Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) ,  and then adds one more about a couple of bakers (James Corden & Emily Blunt).  Each character longs for an object or event that they think will bring them happiness, as the opening song, “I Wish” details.  


Cinderella wants to go the ball, Red wants to visit her grandmother, Jack wishes not to sell his cow friend, and Rapunzel desires freedom.  However, the evil witch bedecked in blue (Meryl Streep gives a truly stunning performance) has placed a curse on the baker’s house, deeming them forever childless.  She tells the couple she will relent if they can gather the cloak as red as blood, the cow of pure white, a slipper of gold, and hair as yellow as corn.  All of the characters take to the woods in search of what they believe to be their heart’s desire, only to find out that you just may get what you wish for, but it might not be what you need.


Instead of the happy Disney endings we’ve grown accustom to, many of the fairy tales stick to the grandiose gruesome finales originally written by the Brothers’ Grimm and ITW itself is no exception.  This tale gets very dark with pedophilic characters (Johnny Depp as The Wolf), ruthless cruelty, and senseless death.  ITW is not for toddlers, but the darkness only deepens the strengths of the actors and the richness of the story they portray.


The female characters show a wide variety of strength and weaknesses with very unique personalities, each likeable and unlikable throughout—the sign of growth and great consideration.  The productions values are very high with gorgeous costumes, diverse crowds made of real humans, and woods are so alive and rich they’re practically a character unto themselves.  Opportunities for humor are never wasted as the two princely brothers (Billy Magnussen and Chris Pine)—looking like Harlequin romance novel  covers— truly steal the comedy crown during, “Agony.”


Despite feeling a little long and containing a seemingly pointless conversation about treating the giant like a human instead of monster, ITW is classic Sondheim and a magical treat.


Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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