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Into the Woods (Blu-ray Review & Trailer)

INTO WOODS boxart

 

 

Review by John Delia

The fun film Into the Woods has been released on Blu-ray and it’s dazzling. The fast moving musical comedy takes the audience on a fantasy trip with characters from the classic tales Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella. The fairytale characters collide on a fateful day when the Baker’s Wife decides to have a child. Based on the Steven Sondheim play, the live action with CGI film grossed just under $200 million worldwide theatrically.

Into the Woods follows four main stories featuring a baker and his wife (James Cordon and Emily Blunt) who are childless, Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and his mother (Tracy Ulman) who are penniless, and Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) who has been relegated to the chores of a wicked stepmother (Christine Baranski) and her two daughters Florinda (Tammy Blanchard) and Lucinda (Lucy Punch). Then there’s Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) needing bread to take to her grandma and of course the Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp). They all wish for a better life, even the wolf wants a tummy full.

Meryl Streep as the witch and James Cordon as the Baker

Meryl Streep as the witch and James Cordon as the Baker

Living under a curse by the wicked Witch (Meryl Streep) the baker heads for the woods in search of four things that will break the spell on their house so they can have siblings. Given only three days, the Baker needs to collect a white cow, a cape red as blood, hair yellow as corn and a golden slipper to be delivered to the Witch. She will then reverse the spell and allow the baker’s wife to have a child. There’s a problem, the only thing the baker has for bartering are some magic beans that happen to be lying around his bakery.

The film production gets very lively with a lot of situation comedy laced with music. Director Rob Marshall who is very familiar with bringing theater to the big screen having made the hit Chicago, moves his film along quickly introducing most all the characters within the first few minutes. He then intertwines each of their stories creating a whirlwind of circumstances that create a lot of laughter. He opens up the lenses filming at real locations and staying away from the “stage” feel that so often limits a director in telling the story. Using real animals, a lot of make-up and fairytale costumes, he then adds some nicely placed CGI.

Anna Kendrick stars as Cinderella in “Into the Woods”

Anna Kendrick stars as Cinderella in “Into the Woods”

The screenplay spools out in two parts, the first being the reasons why and the accomplishment of the tasks. The second half deals with the consequences and the revenge of some other characters. Especially the Giant’s wife who wants her gold back from Jack. This part takes place mostly in the woods that Marshall makes dark and dreary. The costumes instead of bright and cheerful, become drab and tattered. The characters are not so whimsical and the theme is one of danger and atonement.

The Blu-ray with 1080p HD Aspect Ratio 2.39:1 is crystal clear and colorful (and dark yet crisp during the second half). The sound quality is very good using the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.0 or Stereo 2.0 and projects the voices and vocals without distortion.

BONUS FEATURES:

“Never-Before-Seen Sondheim Original Song: “She’ll Be Back” Meryl Streep performs a compelling new song that sheds a little more light on the Witch’s relationship with Rapunzel. This never-before- seen composition was penned especially for this movie by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, and is seen here exclusively on Blu-ray.
“There’s Something about the Woods” Journey into this mysterious forest to discover how this compelling, new musical was made. Meet Director Rob Marshall and his award-winning team of artists and craftspeople, see how the woods were brought to life…and what they represent to the story…and to all of us.
“The Cast As Good As Gold” Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. Chris Pine. James Corden. Johnny Depp. Meryl Streep. Meet the remarkable cast of this musical movie, and hear of their affinity for this Broadway classic.
“Deeper Into The Woods” Journey even further into the development of the film in these 4 segments “From Stage To Screen”, “Magic of the Woods”, “Designing the Woods” and “The Costumes of the Woods”
“Filmmaker Commentary” Film commentary with Director Rob Marshall and Producer John DeLuca.
“Music & Lyrics” Get direct access to the musical song segments from the film, with optional sing-along lyrics.
“5 Golden Eggs (Easter Eggs)”

Into the woods has been rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun film on Blu-ray for the whole family. (A)

Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, and MacKenzie Mauzy 
Director: Rob Marshall
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Theatre
Running Time: 2 hrs. 6 min
Original Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2014
Video Release Date: March 24, 2015
Language: English (also switchable to Spanish or French)
Format: Blu-ray
Audio: Blu-ray 7.1 DTS- HD Master Audio
Video: Blu-ray 1080p HD Aspect Ratio 2.39:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Number of Discs: 1 Disc and Digital Download
Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

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