Nice isn't Always Good, Good isn't Always Nice: Into the Woods

Well this is odd, a non-potter related thing, but I thought I might as well post my thoughts here as it carries a unique perspective that I find people that identify with Slytherin in particular would understand.  So check here after the break.

First thing's first. I have rather limited experience in film and music, but I have limited training in editing. Thus, if you don't agree with my opinions here, feel free to call me an idiot. I'll try and be impartial as well, but that may be difficult for some parts that others may like more and I'll try and call those out as well.

So Into the Woods was an adaptation of a Sondheim musical that Disney decided to put out, possibly to profit off of the success Les Miserables had last year. However that being said, this is both similar and quite different from Les Mis. There is a darkness that would differentiate it from Annie, but it comes across much like Enchanted, which both spoofed and critiqued certain aspects of the traditional Disney message. Thus, if you thought this would be sanitized just because Disney got ahold of it... the sanitation wasn't as "squeaky clean" as you would expect.

The plot of the film, to attempt to put it simply, follows different characters and their trials, as they intertwine and intersect, Princes, Repunzel, Cinderella, a witch, A baker and his wife, Red Riding Hood, Jack and his Mother, the Giant and the Giantess as they go. They start by wishing and the plot is set in motion (and occasionally narrated by) the baker and his wife that want a child but can't because of a witch's curse, as the baker's father had stolen magic beans from her, making it so his family tree would be bare. Because of this, the baker and his wife get involved with other stories occuring around the same time to get a cow as white as milk, hair yellow as corn, cape red as blood and slipper pure as gold. From there, "hilarity" more or less ensues, as the young couple have three midnights to undo the curse. The curse is then undone half way through the movie as we see our victorious characters deal with the repercussions of their wishes and deeds. (Side note: there are certain aspects, assuming that this is more faithful in certain parts than not, that make me think Disney and its story tellers really did value this film, and wanted to give it its' dues, but I will leave those to the eagle-eyed Disney fans to keep the fun going.)

The ensemble story here is good, but it can be a bit hard to follow for some, so if you disliked Les Mis for the complicated plot and intertwining stories, the same can be said here (though the length is considerably shorter as they DID cut some lyrics from certain songs and certain plot points (there is no narrator, some deaths are changed as to my understanding) so if you are a purist this probably will be less fun for you, but as a film it isn't bad, nor is it at times amazing, so it isn't as much of a must-see as Les Mis as it isn't as much of a classic, nor does it have the same scoring.

On that note, I would like to add that the songs are wonderful and at some times humorous. Sondhiem is a wonderful lyricist and composer and I do admit a soft spot for him. The humor is at times dark like Red Riding hood remarking, before going into the woods, that her grandmother may already be dead, or Jack remarking that he's off to sell a friend (his cow) when pressured by his mother. Overall I would say that among the favorite songs I had were the main theme of Into the Woods, Children will Listen, Agony (more for the scene than anything else, as the princes were so cheesy and reminiscent of Gaston I hardly think that it was unintentional there), and Hello Little Girl/I know things now.

On the note of those last two, I would like to address this one bit. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. I mean it was still almost painful to watch and moderately disturbing but part of me thinks Depp is almost made for Sondheim, as his switch from a sort of... bluntly speaking pedophile-esque wolf to the ruthless killing beast was good and something that isn't quite done in the other recordings I have heard and they showed the switch quite nicely. However, I do think it is only a matter of time before someone manages to take the image of Johnny Dep in a zoot suit, fedora with wolf ears and tail opening up his jacket to show candy to a little girl to be taken in a... less than friendly light. To be honest that was my biggest issue going into the movie as the whole scene with Red Riding Hood seems to be a bit heavily coded and easily interpreted, but children young enough may not get it, and it *could* be used as a slightly more updated and visual lesson for children (Nice is different from good indeed).

So ultimately? Was it a good movie? Yes, but it wasn't always a nice one to watch. The scene with Red and the wolf was a bit hard to stomach at points (as I gulped down water and tried my best not to shout "STRANGER DANGER BAD TOUCH BAD DEPP!" But the witch was good, the roles were all done exceptionally well and the lesson, that even when you get what you think you wanted, it might not be exactly what you wanted, to not trust princes or wolves with everything, and how even witches can be right and giants can be good, it's a valuable lesson to learn, and while it pulls no punches (stepsisters get mutilated a bit and blinded, people die, princes lie) it's a lesson and perhaps, just perhaps Children will listen indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think?