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Into the Woods (2014)
Should never have left the stage
This film failed in so many places I'm surprised I'm giving it 5/10 stars.
Let's start with the incredibly inconsistent size of the woods. It might work on the stage, but it's really hard to swallow in film, because you can clearly see that the woods are supposed to be massive, yet the characters keep bumping into one another whenever the plot wills it so.
And then the characters seem to lose sight of one another, and suddenly they're too big, so it's hard to find anything in them. That is extremely poor writing, it's as though the director didn't really care about making sense (which you cannot dismiss saying it's a fantasy, you don't expect space travel in Spider Man, and you don't expect guns in Lord of the Rings, nor do you expect the characters in Lord of the Rings to suddenly treat the journey from the shire to Mordor as walk in the park).
There's also a LOT of exposition through songs in this film. It's not narrating past events through song, which would have been fine, but simple, pure, uncut exposition.
What do I mean by that? I mean that every character *tells* us what they did and what happened and we, the audience who paid to see a film, can't see it. Jack sings about his trip to the clouds, Cinderella sings about the party, the witch tells us she found Jack is going to bring him to the giant woman. I cannot stress enough how much of a sin this is for a film.
It's OK on stage, because you have limited budget, and sets, but cinema requires showing, not telling. They could have done what Little Red Riding Hood did and told the story through singing-flashback. Except, while that's the only point in the story that tries to adapt itself to a different medium, it's also a flashback to something the happened TWO MINUTES BEFORE. And we saw it. And we know what happened before and after. There was literally no need for a flashback or song-exposition at all.
Another big problem with this film, which I suppose is a symptom of telling, not showing, is that many of the characters vocally express their emotions, but don't actually appear to feel any. One example I can think of is when Little Red Riding Hood approaches her grandmother's house she says something to the lines of "how uneasy I feel" with a completely blank expression. That's not just poor writing, that's a combo of bad writing, bad direction AND bad acting.
The film itself is way too long, and could have been cut very differently. The story did not in any way shape or form need a song with the two princes trying to compete with each other to see who suffers more for love. We didn't need the scene where the baker's wife suddenly cheats on him - I say suddenly because it's never even hinted she might do that, or that the prince was a real womanizer. We didn't need a flashback-to-two-minutes-ago. We didn't need a scene where the baker brings a cow with flour on it because the white cow died, so the witch can revive it (that's an extremely short and unnecessary predicament, as it's solved in seconds). We DID need a scene where the witch finds Jack. We did need a scene that explained better why the witch commits suicide (it comes out of nowhere and has a really rushed explanation).
Actually, I don't think we needed this film at all.