It's been almost a year since Into the Woods was released. While I myself was excited to see it, I admit I was anxious about the results, especially given Rob Marshall's products since Chicago.
When it opened, the opinion among musical theatre fans was divided. Some loved it and others hated it. Initially, I felt somewhat negative about the film as a whole. But with its release on DVD, I decided to give it another chance. Did I like it the second time around? Not at all. In fact, I found a lot more wrong with it now then I did before. Here is what was so wrong about the Into The Woods movie.
Some would think that Marshall would be the perfect person to take Into the Woods from stage to screen. I had my reservations. Other than Chicago, Marshall hasn't made a "good" film. From Memoirs of a Geisha to Nine to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Marshall's films are all style with hardly any substance. So I was justifiably nervous about him taking on Sondheim's most popular work.
Looks like I was right. We forget that first and foremost, Marshall is a choreographer and when doing a movie with no choreography, his flaws as a filmmaker are only heightened. There were confusing edits, cuts in songs, and of course plot changes that the director is squarely to blame for. And considering very little was changed in Chicago, Annie and even Nine, it makes what he did here even more egregious. With his announced intentions of doing Follies next, needless to say I'm a bit worried.
Obvious Auto Tune
For the most part, all of those cast in the film could actually sing. So it's beyond confusing why, especially James Corden, Emily Blunt and Chris Pine, are so heavily auto tuned? The main issue with Les Miserables was that not all of the actors could actually carry a tune, so mixing was desperately needed on that film. But here, it wasn't needed all that much. Most of the cast had already proven either on film or on stage that they didn't have to be auto tuned this heavily.
Cut Characters & Songs
I'm all for editing a piece for time issues. But there were characters and songs cut from the movie that made no sense because having them included wouldn't have changed the time duration of the film all that much.
For instance, I don't understand why they cut the role of the Mysterious Man/Narrator only to include most of his dialogue and the scene where "No More" should have been. This is another cut I don't understand, if they're going to include the scene where the song would've taken place, then why not include the song? It was a confusing choice.
Another confusing cut was loosing the second verse of "No One Is Alone" which starts with "You move just a finger." Again, another edit that wouldn't have made the movie much longer.
Finally, two of my favorite songs are "Ever After" and "So Happy", so you can imagine my confusion and disappointment seeing that they were cut but that the scenes where they would have been were included and spinets of the songs themselves, were in the score. Again, if you're going to include the scene or score, why not include the song. I had the same feeling about not including the opening song to Sweeney Todd in that film.
It's amazing how the treatment of such a small role in the overall piece can be handled so incorrectly. Let's start with the obvious, costuming. Colleen Atwood is one of the great costume designers of our time, so I am beyond confused that if the movie takes place in the 18th-19th centuries, why is the Wolf in a Zoot Suit from the 1940's? Complete with a pocket square and wallet chain?!?!?!
They were probably going for an homage to the 1943 Little Red Riding Hood Disney Cartoon, but it just doesn't make sense in this movie. I found myself very distracted over this incredibly dumb move.
The other problem with the role is Johnny Depp. For someone who is usually so reliable when it comes to charisma, his performance is so terribly flat and "mailed-in", it's maddening. Depp has certainly been on a down swing as of late and this performance didn't help.
The Rapunzel Debacle
After watching the film again, the choice still makes little to no sense to me. It only points to the fact that Disney didn't want children to see one of their Princesses die.
What was even more disappointing, was that throughout this entire process, Sondheim himself didn't stand up for his work. The changes did nothing to elevate the original piece. So why was Sondheim so agreeable and supportive of Marshall and Disney tearing his masterpiece apart?
Well money makes us do strange things.