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Check out our review of this big screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical that features iconic characters such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, whose fates are intertwined with a humble baker and his wife, whose longing to have a child sends them on a quest to reverse a witch's curse.




The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95



Details:

Studio and Year: Disney - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 125 minutes
Genre: Musical

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Johnny Depp, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Music by: Stephen Sondheim
Written by: James Lapine
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 24, 2015


"Be careful what you wish for"


My Take:


Into the Woods is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy). All are tied together by an original story involving a childless baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

Based on the stage musical inspired by author James Lapine’s book of the same name Into the Woods was bought to the big screen by Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine and director Rob Marshall. I have never seen the Broadway production, nor did I get out to the movie theater to see it. I was looking forward to experiencing it at home on Blu-ray and wasn’t disappointed on any front. I found the combination of classic fairytale elements to be good fun. The narrative is predominantly engaging although depending on your patience for musical theater there may be times that boredom creeps in.

Let’s face it, with musicals we are in it for the songs, lyrics and performances and this is where Into the Woods excels. The first two acts are capably stitched in knit one, pearl two fashion delivering plenty of spot on levity, a bit of gratifying adventure and solid thematic underlayment. Everything ties in quite nicely as the characters and their tales are brought into the fold with The Baker, his wife and of the course The Witch. Where things sort of went off the rails for me all seemed to occur in the final act. The story takes a decidedly saucy and darker turn that left me asking aloud, “REALLY”? I won’t go into details but immediately realized that the film didn’t have a G rating. That shouldn’t be viewed as a negative but is rather point of fact.

Eyebrow raising events aside I really had a very good time with Into the woods. The cast is simply marvelous. I love Meryl Streep and as you’d expect she is as good as ever here. I could listen to Anna Kendrick’s beautiful voice anytime. I found Emily Blunt’s singing chops to be quite surprising and delightful. The young talented singers/actors that portrayed Jack and Red Riding Hood, Daniel Huttlestone and Lilla Crawford nailed it as well. The remaining members of the ensemble lent their voices and talent to their respective characters in complimentary fashion (except maybe Johnny Depp – who isn’t much of a singer).

Director Rob Marshall wrangles it all together deriving the most from the source material and cast while ensure that the production elements are top notch. The result is a spirited, fun and entertaining adaptation that should please fans of the genre.


Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**



Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element):

Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:


Into the Woods comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 5.2 Mbps.

Having not seen this film theatrically I had high hopes for this video presentation and wasn’t disappointed. Images have an enriching quality with punchy contrast and high level detail. It’s obvious that Director Rob Marshall and cinematographer Dion Beebe utilize varying visual characterizes to capture the sometimes scene specific aesthetic based upon the thematic look they strove for. The period costumes leans more toward beige, gray and sepia tones that made many scenes appear to be less colorful. The film opens with a limited chromatic scheme that boasts shades of gray, blue, sepia, white and black. As the story progresses bolder chromatic elements are effectively used where called for and pop quite nicely.

Flesh tones have excellent tonal delineation, with the fairer complexions appearing just shy of ashen while remaining lifelike. Resolution is excellent as images have a visually satisfying and crisp dimensional quality that enhances perception in both close ups and wide angle camera pans. Sharpness is rarely called into question and any subtle variations appear innate to the photography. I found this to be a filmic presentation that yielded excellent picture quality with no signs of video related anomalies or artifacts.

The DTS-HD Master Audio multi-channel surround mix is equally impressive and runs the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialogue/singing and soft music to dynamically charged sequences that deliver rewarding surround sound. Detail is first rate which brings out the finely articulated nuance of background elements within the mix. Stephen Sondheim’s beautiful music and lyrics as delivered by the cast is integrated into the sound design and sounds wonderfully detailed, acoustically transparent and three dimensional. Surround use is prevalent and achieves a high level of ambient envelopment that is appreciably involving. There are a variety of sequences, the most noteworthy involving an angry lady giant, that have plenty of low level impact, punchy dynamics and seamlessly blended effects that create a detail rich sound field. This is an impressive high definition audio/video experience that compliments the source material.


Bonus Features:
  • (HD) 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 and EHV. With
    introduction by Director Rob Marshall.
  • (HD)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 – 13 minute featurette
  • (HD) 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- 10 minute featurette
  • (HD) Deeper Into The Woods (4 segments totaling 29 minutes):
    1. From Stage To Screen
    2. Magic of the Woods
    3. Designing the Woods
    4. The Costumes of the Woods
  • Film commentary with Director Rob Marshall and Producer John DeLuca.
  • (HD) Music & Lyrics - Get direct access to the musical song segments from the film, with optional sing-along lyrics.
  • 5 Golden Eggs (Easter Eggs)
  • Digital HD Copy



Final Thoughts:

Into the Woods is a spirited, fun and entertaining big screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim stage musical of the same name which is based on the book by James Lapine. It comes to Blu-ray from Disney featuring top notch high definition audio/video and a complimentary assortment of supplements that include insights from the cast/crew/writers. If you’re a fan of musicals that receive the Hollywood treatment []i]Into the Woods[/i] is right up your alley and shines on Blu-ray.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
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Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
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Thanks Ralph. I saw it on the big screen and really enjoyed it. Can't wait for it to come in next week.


S~
 

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Thanks for the great review, Ralph!

I've been sitting on the fence regarding this movie for a while because I'm not a fan of "most" musicals, but I really like the cast in this one so might give it a go on blu-ray. I'll wait until a few more viewers have commented before taking the plunge.
 

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Just a note. In Musical Theater the Book is what they call the non-music part of the script. James Lapine wrote the script (Book) and Directed the original Broadway show. The play wasn't based on a book besides for the source fairy tales.


"The book (also called the libretto) is the least appreciated and yet most dramatically important element of a musical. It is the narrative structure that keeps the score from being nothing more than a disjointed medley of songs."
http://www.musicals101.com/book.htm
 

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I did not see this at the theater, but I pre-ordered it so I'm expecting it to be in my mailbox Tuesday. Thank you for the review Ralph!
 

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The story takes a decidedly saucy and darker turn that left me asking aloud, “REALLY”? I won’t go into details but immediately realized that the film didn’t have a G rating. That shouldn’t be viewed as a negative but is rather point of fact.
Thanks Ralph - I always enjoy your reviews, but usually don't comment.

If I rent this, it will be for my kids. I had read previously that it had some child-molestation-like elements, like Depp (as the wolf) singing about the juicy flesh of a young girl. I initially wrote those comments off as over the top. But since you commented, was this film, in your view, appropriate for young kids (under 6 years old)?
 

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I saw this in a theater with my wife. Liking the music and songs was essential to liking the movie and I'm glad to say that I found the witty songs to be likeable. We both liked the movie also and I ordered the blu ray. To bad they didn't go for 3D as fairy tales and 3D go together quite well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Ralph - I always enjoy your reviews, but usually don't comment.

If I rent this, it will be for my kids. I had read previously that it had some child-molestation-like elements, like Depp (as the wolf) singing about the juicy flesh of a young girl. I initially wrote those comments off as over the top. But since you commented, was this film, in your view, appropriate for young kids (under 6 years old)?

Greetings,

Thanks for reading sulakd. :)

I wouldn't recommend it for viewers that young. The scenes involving the wolf will probably go over their heads (they aren't that bad either) but the final act has some thematic material that would be a bit much for them.


Regards,
 

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I guess I'm in the minority but this was one of the worst movies I've seen in ages. I'm not a big musical person, but I did really enjoy Chicago and Sound of Music for example. But in this case the songs were uninspiring, the plot was weak, and they took a bunch of my favorite actors and made them look like talentless hacks. How dare they do that to James Tiberius Kirk?!?

I hope others glean some enjoyment from the film. Sounds like the AV was good. I saw in in a local cineplex and it was meh, but the best possible AV presentation couldn't have saved this one for me.
 

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I did not enjoy movie too much.
The songs were not memorable at all for me. Nothing catchy to my ears (and I love musicals....well the good ones!).
The plot also fell apart for me in the 3rd act. I swear to god, I must have drifted or something...but suddenly a few characters are dead, and I had no idea how! And the ending was just...meh
 

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I took my wife and two girls to this movie.One daughter like it sort of, the rest of did not care for it.


Most of the songs are sort of spoken to music without melody.


All I wanted was out of the theater.


Different strokes... :D


- Rich
 

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Okay, here's my take. I saw the original production on Broadway and LOVED IT! But then I am a great admirer of Stephen Sondheim and almost all of his work. I consider his Sweeney Todd to be possibly the greatest Broadway musical ever written (saw it three times). Sondheim can be an acquired taste. His scores usually do not contain songs that you hum leaving the theater. They are very complex and very keyed into human emotions and his narratives. They can lack general appeal as a result. Movies of staged musicals are almost never as good as their source but have to be taken on their own terms. I was eagerly waiting for the movie to release and I was not disappointed. Whether as its own entity or as an adaptation of the Broadway show, the movie was a great success. Even with a few changes it was very true to the stage show and the cast was superb. I doubt that anyone can ever compare to Bernadette Peters Witch in the show but, Meryl Streep gives a knockout performance as the character and displays vocal abilities and a range that could almost be Broadway belter class. Her acting, of course, is superb and reveals new aspects of the Witch's character. Emily Blount, James Corden and of course, Anna Kendrick, are excellent but the real surprise is Chris Pine. The man can sing and along with Billy Magnessen, does a hilarious rendition of "Agony". The movie theater was roaring with laughter during it. All in all, the movie had vastly more positives than negatives for me and I'm certainly picking up my copy tomorrow.
 

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I will definitely rent this one, for sure!

As for movie musical adaptations, I really wanted to love Les Mis, but thought the staging, cinematography, editing, and some of the casting choices to be right off putting. Definitely a must see on the stage, not as they did it for the cinema. IMHO.

I have nothing against musicals turned into movies per se as my favorites are My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, and Grease to name a few.
 

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I will definitely rent this one, for sure!

As for movie musical adaptations, I really wanted to love Les Mis, but thought the staging, cinematography, editing, and some of the casting choices to be right off putting. Definitely a must see on the stage, not as they did it for the cinema. IMHO.

I have nothing against musicals turned into movies per se as my favorites are My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, and Grease to name a few.
I sort of agree with you about Les Mis. I enjoyed the film and Hathaway's performance of I Dreamed a Dream was sublime and Oscar worthy but there was something a bit off about it. The stage production was superior in every way. I got a totally different vibe from Into the Woods and it worked for me.
 

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I sort of agree with you about Les Mis. I enjoyed the film and Hathaway's performance of I Dreamed a Dream was sublime and Oscar worthy but there was something a bit off about it. The stage production was superior in every way. I got a totally different vibe from Into the Woods and it worked for me.
Oh yes, Anne Hathaway's performance was just... sublime! Will check out ItW.
 

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I took my wife and two girls to this movie.One daughter like it sort of, the rest of did not care for it.


Most of the songs are sort of spoken to music without melody.


All I wanted was out of the theater.


Different strokes... :D


- Rich
Yeah that's kinda what I feared. I listened to some snippets of the soundtrack. I must start by saying I tried watching just a bit of Chicago and HATED it. I'm a guy who likes broadway musicals. But #1 , the music must be excellent. Many Disney animated films have great music also. But I am not a fan of the "spoken words" musicals. It's not music, not in the least. I appreciate your feedback on this as it probably saved me 20 bucks.
 

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Yeah that's kinda what I feared. I listened to some snippets of the soundtrack. I must start by saying I tried watching just a bit of Chicago and HATED it. I'm a guy who likes broadway musicals. But #1 , the music must be excellent. Many Disney animated films have great music also. But I am not a fan of the "spoken words" musicals. It's not music, not in the least. I appreciate your feedback on this as it probably saved me 20 bucks.
I'm not sure that I get the "spoken words" reference. Into the Woods both on stage and on screen has its share of pure dialogue but its musical numbers are just that, fully sung and orchestrated.
 
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