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Into the Woods review

In a desperate attempt to break the curse that prevents them from conceiving a child, a baker and his wife enter the woods in search of four magical ingredients. If they find all of the ingredients in time then the witch, who cast the spell, will remove it.

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Each of the magical items, a cape as red as blood, a cow as white as milk, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold, comes from a different fairytale, but these versions of the classic stories don’t play out as you might expect.

Funny, musical and beautiful to look at, the film succeeds in so many ways. The running time is a little long and, at a point, the plot seems wrapped up, but then continues on a whole new quest. This might sound like a pacing problem, but I genuinely didn’t want the credits to roll and was glad that the happily ever after hadn’t arrived just yet.

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This extra bit of story, explores the consequences of getting what you want and gives new depth to some of the less explored characters. Though some of the humour is sacrificed to provide this character development.

Director Rob Marshall chose to use green screen as little as possible and as a result the movie looks tangible as well as beautiful. The characters that inhabit the world are designed stylistically to mirror fairytales rather than reality and overall this worked well, with the possible exception of Johnny Depp’s wolf who seemed almost out of place.

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The story is adapted from a Broadway show of the same name, but most of the music wasn’t memorable. In fact, a lot of the songs seemed very similar to each other. It’s probably safe to say that Into the Woods isn’t going to have a hit like Frozen’s Let it Go to drive interest, but the music does push the plot along, sometimes makes you laugh and is well performed by the entire cast.

From the indecisive Cinderella and her step family to the thieving Red Riding Hood, the casting was spot on and, though the design seemed too out there compared to the rest of the film, Johnny Depp did a great job for the five or six minutes that he was on screen.

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The baker and his wife are the heart of the film and James Corden and Emily Blunt proved to be one hell of a comedy duo. The only character who seemed underdeveloped was Rapunzel, played by Mackenzie Mauzy, who was important for a short time, but never really got any closure for her storylines. It seems like she was there more as a way to develop Meryl Streep’s witch character, who was dynamic enough to be neither a straight up villain or hero.

If you want a fun, bittersweet story set in a beautiful world full of music, then you’ve found you’re movie. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in, then you might want to save yourself the two hours and five minutes. Or you could take a chance, you might learn something you didn’t know before.

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What do you think? Are you going to see Into the Woods? Have you seen the Broadway show? Which fairytale is your favourite? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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