Into the Woods Review

So, due to circumstances beyond my control, I got just a little screwed out of this being posted on the site I write reviews for. But, I figure that's no reason it should never see the light of day, right? So, why not throw it up here! Let it tide you all over until I have a chance to write my look at the recently announced Oscar nominations...

I didn't go into seeing Into the Woods (directed by Rob Marshall, written by James Lapine based on the musical Lapine wrote the book for, with music composed by the legendary Stephen Sondheim) with any preconceived notions, having never seen the musical before and only recently becoming a big musical fan in the first place (in no small part thanks to my girlfriend). So, unlike a lot of the people I’ve seen and heard talking about it, I’m not basing my opinion of it on comparisons made to the original piece and instantly deciding it’s either the best or worst thing ever.  I’m interested in the movie and the movie alone. In which case, the closest I had to an existing idea about this movie was, "Does Disney really need to do yet another version of these tired old fairy tales?"
The answer is, "probably not," but you shouldn't let that keep you from enjoying the movie anyway.
Into the Woods is the tale of how some of our favorite fairy tales intertwine during and, more importantly, after the stories we know and love. Cinderella (Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Chris Pine as her prince), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy as the titular maiden and Billy Magnussen as her prince, who is also the younger brother of Chris Pine's character), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford as Red and Johnny Depp in a very short but deliciously creepy appearance as the Wolf), and Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone with Tracey Ullman as his mother) all intertwine during the movie, with the central through-story being that of a baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt, the real stars of the show, and, in addition to one name that is about to come up, probably the best parts of the cast when it comes to performances) trying to break the curse of infertility placed on their household by a witch (Meryl Streep in all her scene-stealing glory).
As a story, Into the Woods is decent, with a strong, entertaining first half that flows into a flawed, rushed climax. The cast is entertaining and mostly talented and the movie is a visual delight. The songs, for me at least, were fun but fairly forgettable (which is no surprise as I'm apparently a fan of more modern musicals like Rent and Spring Awakening). Some of the twists the tales take as they intertwine after their traditional endings are very surprising, as are some of the nuances added to the tales themselves, which is important; it keeps them fresh and not just another retread of the same old tales. But the main plot of the movie itself is predictable, especially the ending, and the climax itself feels rather rushed. All in all I enjoyed it, but it was hardly the best musical I've seen.  None of the songs resonated with me or stayed in my head. But it was nevertheless a fun enough movie. I give it three stars out of five.