Movie Review: Into the Woods — Yeah, Not My Favourite Fairytale Movie

Title: Into the Woodsinto_the_woods_ver12

Director: Rob Marshall

Written By: James Lapine

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp

Genres: Fantasy / Fairytale retellings

Rating: PG-13 — Fantasy action, some suggestive material, etc.

Runtime: 2 hours, 5 minutes. In other words? WAY TOO LONG.

Book Adaptation: N / A (adapted from a stage musical)

Description: A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.


2/5 stars –

★★☆☆☆

I really hate the fact that I am giving this one two stars. Me? I love fairytale retellings: books movies, whatever—I’ll read / watch it. And I have to say that while Into the Woods held the promise of a fantastic story and loveable characters, it fell flat in way too many areas for me to truly like it.

What I liked the most about this was how this movie wove several well-known fairytales together to form one movie. (But Cinderella’s golden shoes? GOLDEN? WHAT IS THIS, PEOPLE? IT’S GLASS. IT’S ALWAYS BEEN GLASS. I am way too upset about this to be normal, I know. We all have our issues.)

Disney animated GIF

(Yes, I am really, really looking forward to the Cinderella that’s coming out this year.)

I dislike movies that lull you into thinking they’re almost done—and then bam! The next thing you know, the storyline has picked up again, and they’re on another adventure, and the movie goes on for what feels like another two freaking hours. And I think I would have liked this one a lot more if it had ended at the wedding scene. You know—the classical Happily Ever After scene: Cinderella has married her prince, Rapunzel has found the love of her life, and so on. Cool. That’s fine. While happy endings aren’t usually my favourite—it would have worked fine in this aspect. BUT OH, NO. It couldn’t end there, could it? Nope.

After the wedding was where thing unraveled and quickly for me.

Disney animated GIF

And so, another grand adventure began . . . and went on, and on, and on some more. I needed way more popcorn than I had to get through this movie, I’m telling you. I went into Into the Woods fully prepared for a musical—and hey, that’s what I got. I don’t mind musical . I’m not their biggest fan, but I’ll sit through one and probably enjoy it.

Here is the thing with musicals, though: a lot of the songs sound the same.

Why, I don’t know, but in my meager musical experience, that’s what I found. I think with me for a musical to really click with me, I actually have to be able to separate the songs from each other.

My next qualm I have with the movie is probably spoilery, hence why it’s “invisible”. So just highlight it if you want to read it, and skip over it if you don’t. (I tried to match the exact colour of the background… but couldn’t quite get it no matter how hard I tried. Let me know if it’s still too visible!)

Like I’ve mentioned above, after the wedding was where the movie fell on its face. This, I thought, was for several reasons.

1. What the hell was wrong with that prince? I get it. They didn’t want to give Cinderella that typical happily ever after—they wanted a mildly realistic ending to that story, and that I can appreciate—but man, what a creep. That is all.

2. The baker’s wife, whom clearly wasn’t important enough for a proper name—but hey, let’s kill her off anyway for some action! Ooookay. Can someone please explain the point of her random death to me? How did it drive the story forward in any way? What was the purpose of her death? JUST WHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYY?! To me, its only purpose was so the others could sing a sad song, and evoke some sort of emotion in the viewer that wasn’t complete boredom. Clearly, that’s some stellar storytelling there, folks.

3. Some empathy for the giant would’ve been nice too, you know. I mean, Jack—you did just kill her husband, you ass. Maybe, instead of devising a plan to murder the poor woman, you know have, you know, actually talked to her.

anna kendrick animated GIF

4. This brings me to the fact that most of the story was told through the story instead of being shown. This was when I realized that Into the Woods might have been a stage production—because obviously when you’re on a stage you haven’t got the equipment to be able to replicate what they’re singing about. If you need an example: it was a song Jack sung, when he went up the beanstalk. He sung about the giant’s world but the viewer never saw it. All we got to see was him climbing up / down the beanstalk. Again—this is because of its origins as a stage production. That’s fine. But when you’re adapting in to screen, where you have the technology to be able to replicate whole new worlds—then why not? It was dull. I never really thought I would see the guideline of show-don’t-tell bothering me in a freaking movie.

I could probably go on a lot longer about the things I didn’t like in Into the Woods, but I won’t. All in all I found it had very little redeeming qualities.

Vulture.com animated GIF


Have you seen Into the Woods? Let me know what you thought of it!

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31 thoughts on “Movie Review: Into the Woods — Yeah, Not My Favourite Fairytale Movie

  1. BUT BUT BUT CHRIS PINE AND MERYL STREEP AND ANNA KENDRICK AND MUSICAL AND FAIRYTALES. THAT’S LIKE ALL I WANT IN A MOVIE. Although I DO dislike things that drag on…

    Well, I definitely will be watching this sometime, so I’ll let you know if I like it :)

  2. That’s the thing with musicals, they tend to be very long *cough* Les Miserables *cough*.
    But I’ll still probably see it–on dvd, perhaps.

  3. I can’t say much for the movie, because I haven’t seen it (I’ve only watched the original stage production with Bernadette Peters on Netflix), but I think there’s always something left to be desired when you try to turn something intended for live stage production into something intended (eventually) to be watched in your house by yourself. I mean, the wedding is supposed to be the end of the first act, because the point was that life has no happily-ever-afters in the second act, but you pick yourself up and keep rolling anyway. If there aren’t acts in the movie, that is a little more difficult to decipher. But if they left out pieces of the puzzle that could have been put in in an actual movie, that does seem a little odd.

    Anyway, I’m a fan of the original theatrical production and I have another friend who is the same, and she enjoyed it, so while I think your interpretation is interesting I think I’ll have to watch it for myself to see what I think.

  4. When I saw the trailer in cinemas, I must admit I cringed. A lot. It honestly looked like a trainwreck (to me), and not my kind of movie even though I love fairytale retellings. I did hear that this was based on a stage production, so it’s not surprising that there’s more telling than showing. However I do agree with you – they have so much more free range with showing when it’s a movie! Use your CGI budget come onnnn! Suffice to say I probably won;t be watching this one in cinemas…maybe when it comes out on dvd but that’s not likely either hehe. Thanks for the honest review Kara! xx

    • Yep. A trainwreck is the best way to describe this one, I think. I guess there were good points in it. Like, I enjoyed the storyline (for the most part — it got weird in the second half) and I loved the inclusion of the fairytales… but hmm. I don’t believe they adapted it well from stage-to-movie unfortunately. :(

  5. I really liked the storyline of this book, but there were some technical things that bothered me. I agree that it kept on dragging on. I expected it to stop at the wedding scene, too, and then I looked at my watch and was like, “Well, what else is supposed to happen?” Oh, and there was definitely a lot of telling and not much showing. I felt like I was watching a movie version of a book where the characters dump in backstory through their dialogue.

  6. Lost me after the wedding as well. Ruined a certain someone (who I love LOL) for me dammit. Left me hanging with hot prince number two!! (What happened to him???) I loved the songs and everything, just because I was thinking about how to train breath and whatnot to hit the clear falsettos like Anna did (too much voice training does something to your mind) but yeah, lost me after the wedding.

  7. Gosh I must be living in a cave or something. I have neither watched it nor heard of it! And the trailer seemedso cool. I NEED TO WATCH THIS, but two hours? Wow. O.O

  8. A few weeks ago, I was kinda excited to see it, but after seeing so many reviews (including yours) that haven’t really enjoyed it, I probably wont bother. I thought it would have been similar to a Tim Burton dark retelling, but it sounds like a mishmash of bullshit to be honest. And that Johnny Depp only plays a small part? Completely deceiving. The trailers elude to him being one of the stars. Was that girl in Twilight as one of Bella’s friends?

    That probably explains a lot.
    Awesome review Kara <3 and sorry you wasted your time with this one.

    • OH MY GOSH, KELLY, I NEVER MADE THAT CONNECTION BEFORE. YES. Anna Kendrick was what’s-her-face (how am I supposed to remember her name?) in Twilight. Actually, though, I thought she was pretty good in this. She’s a good singer, anyway. Johnny Depp did have a really small part in this. Acted a bit, sung a a song — and he was out. So yeah that is a bit misleading.

  9. I feel the absolute same way Kara. :) As someone who is a musical theatre geek, this is, I’ll admit, not one of my favorite musicals for pretty much the same reasons you’ve mentioned here. I think it could have easily stopped at the end of the 1st act and then that one act could be split into 2 smaller acts. The 2nd act just didn’t seem completely necessary to me, you know? Thanks for sharing! <3

  10. Awww, such a shame this one didn’t pique your interest Kara! It does sound like it was frustrating with how it went on forever just when you think it’s reaching an end – that’s part of the reason why I can’t get into the LOTR series. Great review lovely!

  11. Ahhh, I feel the same way! I had no idea that this was adapted from a stage show, but there you go. I actually was really looking forward to this. Several fairy tales combined? A bit Tim Burton-esque looking? A musical? Gimme! However, it was a disappointment. I liked how the different fairy tales connected, but that was about where it stopped. Like you, I’m not a fan of movies that feel as though they’re finished, BUT THEY’RE NOT – THERE’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY…or something after what you presumed was the end. It annoys me a lot! And I am always disappointed when songs from musicals pretty much sound the exact same…overall, the whole thing felt like a B grade film to me, and while I’ve seen and fallen in love with several B grade films, I wasn’t expecting this to feel B grade (especially because it’s Disney), and I didn’t like it. Perhaps if I was told beforehand that it would feel B grade, I would’ve enjoyed it more. I also feel kind of let down that actors/actresses who I’ve enjoyed before (Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp) were in a movie that I didn’t really enjoy at all…Ohhh yes, I also hated the prince and the death of the baker’s wife…she was probably my favourite character. Johnny Depp’s character was extremely and unexpectedly creepy, too.

    • Aha, I know right!? Johnny Depp’s character WAS much more creepy than I was expecting. xD Yeah, I think if someone had warned me beforehand that it wasn’t very good, or if I had previously read a negative review of it or something then I might’ve like it more. At least then my expectations wouldn’t have been as high!

      Thanks for commenting, Ebony. :)

  12. Oh my goodness I know what you mean!!! I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would and it did seem to drag on for longer than necessary – the death of the baker’s wife was just plain left-field, and the whole giant development seemed to not really accomplish anything. *sigh* It’s sad because I was so excited to see it as first and my expectations weren’t met :(

    Oh well – I can’t wait for Cinderella either!

  13. I agree you with! I made my hubby take me to see Into the Wood this weekend and it was awful. I love musicals, so that didn’t bother me at all, but like you said, after the weeding the whole thing went south really fast. I was so dissapointed :(

  14. Fun fact (and yes I’m late with the comments on the movie I went to see with you :p), but in the original Cinderella, her shoes were made out of squirrel fur. So i reckon golden is a vast step up in the financial class.
    Otherwise, I’m with you. I’m quite sure we discussed this in great detail. :p Terrible movie. Johnny Depp is one of my favourite actors (Pirates of the Caribbean are up there in the see-all-the-time-movie list) and he was probably the main reason I wanted to see it. Apart from the fairytales, of course. But the witch was pretty good, and the baker’s wife was my favourite character. I think she was the only one who was down-to-earth and practical, and didn’t have her head in the clouds about the ‘magic and fantasy’.

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