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I'm gonna gush a bit, but before I do, let's make one thing absolutely clear:
If you are someone who is typically not inclined to like musicals in general, this is not the one that's going to change your mind. It's very musical, very theatrical, and very Stephen Sondheim. If this appeals to you, then you'll enjoy this movie very,very much and may even love it.
If you don't...you won't. Trust me.
But for those of us who do like these things, this is a remarkably good effort.
And for people who thought the film would take too many liberties with the source material, relax. It's unashamedly respectful of the original play and what changes are made, for the most part, actually improve the narrative.
Rob Marshall has brought three Broadway musicals to the screen (Chicago
, and Into The Woods
) that I thought were un-filmable. Ok, I was right about Nine
, which is practically un-watchable, but it is frankly amazing how he can be so faithful to fan expectations AND turn these properties into pretty great movie-musicals.
Everybody's unabashedly "going for it", and I appreciate the fact that the cast can sing so well. Especially Ms. Streep, even though I sense there's a little bit of technical wizardry involved but...Ok, who cares?. Unlike Mr Sondheim himself, I prefer to hear his songs sung as well as, or even better than, they're acted. And this movie does a much better job with that than, say, the excruciating Sweeney Todd
Which reminds me of one of the three minor complaints I have about this production:
1. I disliked Johnny Depp and everything about the execution of the wolf character, including the costume design. This is really too bad because it would have been fun to have a movie star surprise us in this role the same way Chris Pine does as Prince Charming.
2. It was a shame that we didn't get to hear The Baker, James Cordon (the single best performance), sing the beautiful "No More", which is the only cut I missed in the score.
3. "Children Will Listen" is one of the greatest, most haunting Sondheim songs ever written, and it's strangely thrown away at the end. This was the one time I romantically missed the sound of Bernadette Peters' voice from the original recording.
Damn, Anna Kendrick is really good at singing this stuff.
Damn, Emily Blunt will just break your heart.
Damn, thank God Helena Bonham Carter doesn't show up.
But the most impressive feat is how Rob Marshall manages to solve the problem which has always plagued this show, which is that almost everyone finds the first act infinitely stronger than the second. It's a much smoother transition here.
If you even like this play, you're more than likely to love this movie.
(Loudinni specializes in reviews you can read (usually) in under a minute.)
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