Adapting musicals from the stage to the big screen is a huge undertaking. The results can be disastrous if everything doesn’t go as planned, so it made sense when Disney decided to bring in Rob Marshall to take on the job of bringing the multi-Tony award winning “Into the Woods” to moviegoers. After all, Marshall had already shown he had the right formula with his film adaptations of Nine and Chicago, and after watching Into the Woods, we were happy to see that he managed to pull it off once again.
This movie is something like the ABC hit show “Once Upon a Time” in that it includes a smorgasbord of fairy-tale characters with stories that have been slightly (or sometimes very much) tinkered with. One of the things you’ll notice right away with the film, outside of the immediate familiarity with many of the characters, is that it is extremely busy. There are a plethora of characters and plots and sub plots that are featured throughout the movie, and as such, it’s extremely hard to juggle all of the elements. It’s equally difficult to keep up with all of it at times.
There are several stories that are tied together by a witch (Meryl Streep), a childless Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt). The witch offers to remove a curse that is placed on their house if they gather some items for her. The items are from some very specific Grimm tales and feature stories related to iconic characters that you already know including Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), who of course wishes to go the ball; Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) of Jack and the Beanstalk fame who gets in a bit of trouble when, you guessed it, he sells the family cow for some beans; Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) who is on her way to visit her grandmother and is being pursued by the Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp); and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) who is a trapped in a tower. From there, it basically becomes a balancing act to keep everything in place as the script takes turns all over the place. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the ending might not be exactly where and what you think it will be, but we’ll leave those details aside so that it’s not spoiled for you. Most of us rather enjoyed the ending, but there were a few that wished the movie ended a little earlier and in a different way.
As you’d expect from Disney, the content on the Blu-ray is fantastic and it includes a digital copy. The environments and CGI were visually perfect and capture a fairy tale feeling. The transfer looks flawless on Blu-Ray, with lots of dark areas, and the few things that have very bright color (Red Riding Hood’s cape comes to mind) really tend to “pop”. The main audio option is a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix and it’s really well done with crisp sounds. Overall it’s excellent, but there are a few moments where it really stands out such as when the full ensemble sings. Additional audio options include English 2.0 descriptive audio along with 5.1 Dolby Digital in Spanish and French.
There is a great set of bonus features including:
- Never-Before-Seen Sondheim Original Song: “She’ll Be Back”: Meryl Streep performs a compelling new song that sheds a little more light on the Witch’s relationship with Rapunzel. This never-before- seen composition was penned especially for this movie by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, and is seen here exclusively on Blu-ray and EHV. With introduction by Director Rob Marshall.
- There’s Something About The Woods: Journey into this mysterious forest to discover how this compelling, new musical was made. Meet Director Rob Marshall and his award-winning team of artists and craftspeople, see how the woods were brought to life…and what they represent to the story…and to all of us.
- The Cast As Good As Gold: Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. Chris Pine. James Corden. Johnny Depp. Meryl Streep. Meet the remarkable cast of this musical movie, and hear of their affinity for this Broadway classic.
- Deeper Into The Woods: Journey even further into the development of the film in 4 segments — From Stage To Screen, Magic of the Woods, Designing the Woods, The Costumes of the Woods
- Filmmaker Commentary: Film commentary with Director Rob Marshall and Producer John DeLuca.
- Music & Lyrics: Get direct access to the musical song segments from the film, with optional sing-along lyrics.
- 5 Golden Eggs (Easter Eggs)
*Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer
DVD:Deeper Into The Woods
- Magic of the Woods
I think this film is very much like musicals in general. That is, you either like them or you don’t. Likewise, I’m doubting that there will be much in between with Into the Woods. We enjoyed the entire production but there really is a lot going on. It’s something you can watch with your entire family (that’s always a huge plus with me) and I can see watching it again at a later time and the Blu-ray certainly has enough extras on it to warrant a purchase.
Into the Woods Trailer
CAST: Meryl Streep as the Witch (The Devil Wears Prada, August: Osage County), Johnny Depp as the Wolf (The Lone Ranger, Sweeney Todd), Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife (Edge of Tomorrow, The Devil Wears Prada), James Corden as the Baker (Broadway’s One Man, Two Guvnors, The Three Musketeers, Gavin & Stacey), Anna Kendrick as Cinderella (Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air), Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince (Star Trek Into Darkness, Jack Ryan), Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood (Broadway’s Annie), Daniel Huttlestone as Jack (Les Misérables), MacKenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel (Brother’s Keeper, Broadway’s Next to Normal)
PRODUCER: Marc Platt (Wicked), Rob Marshall (Academy Award®-winning musical Chicago), John DeLuca (Nine), Callum McDougall (Wicked)
DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
COMPOSER: Stephen Sondheim (Sunday in the Park with George)
SCREENPLAY & MUSIC LYRICS: James Lapine (Passion)
RELEASE DATES: March 24th, 2015
PRODUCTS: Digital HD/SD, Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA), Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD
FEATURE RUN TIME: Approximately 125 min.
RATING: Feature Film: PG in U.S.; PG in CE; G in CF
ASPECT RATIO: Blu-ray Feature Film = 1080p High Definition / 2.39:1
DVD Feature Film = 2.39:1
AUDIO: Blu-ray = 7.1 DTS
DVD = 5.1 Dolby
LANGUAGES: English, French & Spanish
SUBTITLES: English SDH, French & Spanish
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this movie. All opinions are our own.