Starring: Meryl Streep, James Cordon, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Johnny Depp
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Synopsis: A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.
I have to say, having heard good reviews of this, and fresh from my new found love of Frozen, I had high hopes for this all-star Disney musical. Alas, I thought it was terribly average in almost every way.
Now, this isn’t necessarily the films fault entirely. I’m not a huge musical’s kind of guy. The constant music isn’t a total turn off, if the songs agree with me. For instance, I loved Sunshine on Leith, but that was because the music derived from pop songs, which have a totally different structure than musical songs. I am a man who likes melody, and pop songs combine the lyrics and melody, whereas musical songs seem to try and fit the music to the words, meaning to my ears they don’t sound ‘structured’, rather just meandering and unmemorable. Sometimes, the songs do overcome this, in musicals such as Mary Poppins and Oliver!, but not in this unfortunately. But heh, I’m a philistine when it comes to musicals, so what do I know.
The songs were performed admirably enough, although some moments seemed to be lip snyched. What I mean by that is, some of the songs were sung in professional sounding voices that can’t possibly have been sung by Meryl Streep, no matter how good a singer she is (I’m not aware that she is anything other than capable)?
My second biggest gripe with the movie, and fans of the stage play may disagree entirely, is that it all seemed a bit of a mess. Too many stories, too much going on and none of it particularly interesting. We all know these fairytales like the back of our hands, and when I heard the concept behind the story was to show what happens after the fairytale I was quite interested. Unfortunately that didn’t occur until quite a way through the movie. I wanted that to be the whole movie. The lead up was just endless scenes of either Corden and Blunt looking for items in the woods, or Kendrick running away from Chris Pine. None of the individual stories seemed fleshed out at all, because they were all competing for screen time.
Meryl Streep is, as usual, the one to watch out of the large cast. She revels in playing the witch and is clearly having a lot of fun hamming it up. Maybe she can come to the UK and do panto next year? The other cast members are all OK, with Corden showing some charm (if not acting prowess particularly) and Emily Blunt was enjoyable. The likes of Chris Pine and Johnny Depp are pure cartoon characters and are supposedly there to add comedy value to the production. Sadly they miss more than they hit.
Overall, I won’t be venturing back into these woods any time soon.