Every so often, a musical theater production is translated into the world of cinema.
On Christmas Day, a movie version of the Broadway musical “Into the Woods” was released into theaters, earning a domestic total of almost $120 million as of Monday.
The story of “Into the Woods” centers around the classic fairytales of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and the Baker and his wife.
The first half of the production follows the stories we know and love.
Cinderella is taken advantage of by her stepmother and stepsisters, but goes to the ball and captures the heart of Prince Charming. Jack plants the magic beans, a giant beanstalk grows, he climbs it and sees real giants. Rapunzel is locked in her tower, but is saved by her own prince. The Baker and his wife perform the tasks demanded by the evil witch in order to have children.
This, admittedly, is a storyline created for the musical and subsequently for the movie.
Halfway through the movie, all of the characters have reached their “happily ever after.”
But “Into the Woods” turns from there – reeling into an adventure of broken hearts, vengeful giants and mutilated feet.
For anyone who is not familiar with the stage version, the second half of the movie seems dark and twisted, but for those of us who know it well, the second half is watered down quite a bit for the big screen.
The last portion of the movie is well done, but I had higher expectations.
Judging it from the standpoint of it being directed as a family movie, though, I understand the changes made.
With that being said, the disruption of the “happily ever after” in “Into the Woods” left a lot to be desired.
All in all, however, “Into the Woods” was well done. The editing to shorten the length from the musical is frustrating at points, but overall the cuts and changes made are understandable and tastefully done. One in particular is the cutting of the “Agony Reprise.” In the first half, the two princes sing “Agony” together and sing a reprise in the second half with a very different situation. It being my favorite song of the show, I am somewhat disappointed it is cut from the second half, but looking back, it makes a lot of sense to adjust it that way.
Seeing as it is a Disney production, the video editing, casting choices, costuming, musical refiguring, makeup, special effects and lighting are phenomenal. Yes, Disney is not perfect and occasionally doesn’t live up to expectations, but here it does.
I do not feel as if I wasted my time watching it and I enjoyed it. One thing I was worried about going into it was the singing. After experiencing the movie adaptation of “Les Miserables,” where the cast is not nearly as vocally pleasing as one expects for a musical, the cast of “Into the Woods” is a welcome surprise.
Not only did the cast members portray their characters beautifully, but their singing fits in well with the production.
Of them all, Meryl Streep steals the screen with her performance as the witch, proving to be a dynamic actress with a melodic yet powerful voice.
Whether you are familiar with the stage version of “Into the Woods” or not, the movie is worth a few hours of your time.
The abilities in the cinema as opposed to the stage provide a completely different experience.
There is an intimacy experienced on the screen, especially with the facial expressions of the skilled cast, that is not possible on the stage.
Be prepared to experience happiness, confusion, excitement, laughter, tears and then happiness all over again.