The tagline of the film "Be careful what you wish for" sums up perfectly what Into the Woods is all about. This musical fantasy film directed by Rob Marshall, adapted by James Lapine from his and Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award–winning Broadway musical of the same name. Inspired by the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel, the film centers on a witch who tasks a childless baker and his wife who are set out with procuring magical items to end a curse placed on them. With classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree. Ultimately though, the characters, from the classic fairy tales, are forced to rectify the consequences of their actions.
After several unsuccessful attempts by other studios and producers of adapting Into the Woods to film, it was eventually bought by Walt Disney Pictures and they announced in 2012 that it was producing an adaptation of the musical, with Marshall directing and John DeLuca serving as producer. Casting began in October 2012 and ending in September 2013. Principal photography commenced in the same month, and took place entirely in London, and concluded in November 2013.
The film features an ensemble cast that includes Meryl Streep as the Witch, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife, James Corden as the Baker, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince, Tracey Ullman as Jack’s Mother, Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Lilla Crawford as The Little Red Riding Hood, Daniel Huttlestone as Jack, MacKenzie Mauzy as Rapunzal, Billy Magnussen as Rapunzal’s Prince, and Johnny Depp. The cast gave incredible performances, especially to Blunt, Kendrick, Pine, Crawford and Huttlestone. The first three performers surprising me with the fact that I never knew that they could sing. And they pulled it off magnificently. The latter two gave strong performances despite not having a big or known track record, sort to speak.
A rousing and energetic adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim / James Lapine Broadway musical, Into the Woods succeeds on the level pure spectacle, but doesn't exactly provide a surprising level of depth and humour. This particular version makes the most prolific use it possibly can out of one specific advantage the cinema has over the stage when it comes to song and dance: it's a sustained celebration of pure magic. A satisfying screen version of Sondheim and Lapine's landmark theatrical musical, things have turned out uniformly right thanks to focused direction by Rob Marshall, expert screw-tightening by Lapine, and haunted and musically adept lead by an ensemble cast. Assembled artistic combo assures the film will reap by far the biggest audience to see a pure Sondheim musical, although just how big depends on the upscale crowd’s tolerance for child-like magic, and the degree to which the masses come running due to their own curiosities.
Simon says Into the Woods receives: