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 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Disney - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 125 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
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"
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.
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.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):
- DSU Rating * (non-rated element):
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
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.
- (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):
- From Stage To Screen
- Magic of the Woods
- Designing the Woods
- 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
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.
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