Walt Disney Pictures has got a new musical on the horizon, but Into the Woods isn’t your average fairy tale offering from the Mouse House. This one is directed by Rob Marshall, the helmsman on the Oscar-winning film musical Chicago; here, he is once again bringing an acclaimed Broadway stage musical to cinematic life. A recently-unveiled image gallery for the movie highlighted the A-list cast members and their lovely costuming, but the new teaser instead shines the spotlight on the fantasy world that Marshall helped to create onscreen.
So far, Into the Woods looks pretty good, in terms of its aesthetics. Marshall previously directed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for Disney, but already his fairy tale musical seems to be an improvement in the visual department. On Stranger Tides tends to suffer from clunky lighting that calls attention to the artifice of the film’s scenery (probably because Marshall had not shot a movie in 3D before), whereas the Into the Woods footage shown here blends practical and digital material more seamlessly.
In terms of story, Into the Woods starts off harmlessly enough; the central plot thread has a Baker (James Corden) attempting to reverse a witch’s curse that has left him and his wife (Emily Blunt) childless – with a bug-eyed Meryl Streep playing the sorceress in question. Elsewhere, the classic stories of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) – among several other fairy tale characters – play out just as you remember them, only this time we also get to see the consequences of their actions. This is where Into the Woods starts to become more genuinely “dark.”
… And by “dark,” we mean this musical very much starts to feel like the handiwork of lyricist/song writer Stephen Sonheim. (Remember, he’s the same guy who gave us the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, among other famous shows that don’t end so happily ever after.)
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Question is, how much will Into the Woods change during the jump to the big screen? Well, being released under the Disney logo means the musical will surely be somewhat more sanitized in movie form; at the same time, the script was still written by James Lapine, who also penned the original Broadway show’s musical book. As such, any changes that do take place will ultimately have been filtered through the mind of one of the show’s creators. Better him than someone else, hopefully.
Either way, Into the Woods has a lot going for it, in terms of both the collective talent onscreen – which yes, includes Johnny Depp (probably) wearing an elaborate costume – and the people working behind the scenes. Fingers crossed, they do justice by a show that’s long been adorned by (and performed by) musical theater enthusiasts around the world.
Into the Woods opens in U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2014.