Film Review: Into The Woods

Into The Woods

Rob Marshall’s musical fairy tale Into The Woods is an entertaining watch which should satisfy fantasy fans.

Longing to have a child, a baker and his wife are tasked by a witch to retrieve enchanted items from different fairy tales. If they can procure these items on time, the curse of their family tree will be lifted…

An adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Into The Woods sticks faithfully to its musical theatre roots. Rather than a film littered with musical numbers, much of the film’s dialogue is encompassed by talk-singing.

Rob Marshall directs Into The Woods with confidence. It is clear that he is having fun with the musical genre. The film is well paced, and has a winning mix of jauntiness and feeling.

Into The Woods is a story of two parts. The first part stays true to the fairy tale tradition. Appearances are of classic fairy tales, albeit with a hint of subversion. The second part of the film turns much of what came before on its head. Into The Woods plays with what viewers expect to happen in these well known tales, producing a musical that may surprise viewers unfamiliar with the source material.

Themes of identity and morality permeate Into The Woods, the latter being very typical of the fairy tale genre. The film plays with character archetypes, subverting some well-known characters with amusing or surprising results.

Production values in the film are good. At times, Into The Woods has the feel of a theatre set; in keeping with its origins and fantasy elements. Special effects are good, as is the art direction. Meryl Streep appears to be having a ball with her camp portrayal, whilst Anna Kendrick is well cast in the young maiden role. Chris Pine is also a wonderfully outlandish prince.

A must-see for musical fans, Into The Woods is glimmer of fun and frivolity for a grey January.

Stuff To Look At

The brand new teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Plus Pan, Jurassic World, Cinderella and more this week…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

How exciting! The first proper look at the new Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This teaser does not reveal too much about the film, although it is a mighty relief that there is no sign of Jar Jar Binks. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set for release in cinemas on 18th December 2015.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Oh my, there is a pug in this film! But if you need any more swaying, Kingsman: The Secret Service is an action comedy starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service is out in UK cinemas on 29th January 2015.

Jurassic World

Dinosaurs in the sea! Genetically modified dinosaurs! Even after the events of the first three films, they still decided to open Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg returns as executive producer for Jurassic World, which is due for release on 12th June 2015.


Fascinating fact: some of Pan was filmed mere meters from where I am sitting right now. A new live-action take on the classic story, Pan stars Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried and Garrett Hedlund. The film is scheduled for release in July 2015.


Here is the first trailer for Disney’s new live-action fairy tale Cinderella. Starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter, it will be interesting to see if the film can replicate the success of this year’s Maleficent. Cinderella hits the big screen on 27th March 2015 in the UK.

Into The Woods

Here is a featurette on upcoming musical Into The Woods. Meryl Streep certainly looks like a force to be reckoned with as the witch. Directed by Robert Marshall, Into The Woods is out in UK cinemas on 9th January 2014.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Here is a clip from Ridley Scott’s upcoming biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton and Indira Varma, the film is a retelling of the Moses story. Exodus: Gods and Kings will hit the big screen on Boxing Day, 26th December 2014, in the UK.

Film Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

If Carlsberg made movies… they probably would not be anything like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. However, if Night Nurse made movies…

No longer in possession of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow finds himself in a bit of bother in London. When he meets Angelina, an old flame from his past, Jack is tricked aboard the ship of the notorious Blackbeard. The aging pirate needs Jack’s help to find the Fountain of Youth, which is also being pursued by Barbossa…

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a mess of a film that isn’t even laughably enjoyable. With a running time of almost two and a half hours, it is likely to leave some audience members in a comatose state. If the narrative was tighter and some scenes trimmed or altogether removed, Rob Marshall’s film would have been much more entertaining. As it stands, the fourth Pirates movie is incredibly dull.

The film features some fun action sequences, but these grow tired quickly as each set piece attempts to outdo the previous one. There are long periods in the film where the pace is very slack. The endless chases lack momentum as they are way too drawn out.

Whereas Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was a bit strange and difficult to get into, On Stranger Tides has more in common with the first two films. However, this instalment comes across as formulaic, offering very little in terms of innovation. Although Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were fairly boring main characters, their absence is palpable. Their love story is replicated somewhat by Philip and Syrena; a poor substitute. The romantic narrative between preacher and mermaid is poorly executed. In attempting to fill a gap, it comes across as trite and underdeveloped.

The effects and staging are as good as ever. Clearly a lot of money was put into making the film; it is a shame that the end results to not justify the cost. Sound is also well used in the film. The 3D consists really of swords being pointed outwards, not exactly worth the uplift price.

Johnny Depp delivers his usual schtick as Jack Sparrow. His performance is not the problem though. The character, who was such fun in the first movie, is now as tired and uninspired as the narrative. In an attempt to inject new life into the franchise, a few new characters are introduced. Ian McShane is decent as Blackbeard, while Penelope Cruz is noticeably stagnant as Angelica. Her lack of movement was undoubtedly due to her pregnancy at the time of filming, but it really should not have been this obvious.

Sadly it seems likely that there will be at least another Pirates film, if not more. Given its sub-par quality, On Stranger Tides really should kill the franchise, but it probably won’t.