Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Into the Woods’ Review: Starring Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick & Meryl Streep

Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep all in one movie by Walt Disney Studios? That’s also a musical?? Sign me up!

Considering I wasn’t all that familiar with the musical Into the Woods (I saw a local stage production earlier this year), I had an open mind going into the movie. Stephen Sondheim is not a very melodic composer but a few of his songs from this musical are catchy and fun but nonetheless Kendrick, Blunt and Streep all singing these songs was bound to lift up the music and bring the musical to life on the big screen. After watching director Rob Marshall’s (2002’s Chicago and 2009’s Nine) Into the Woods, my heart grew a little bit fonder of the musical.

Based on the Tony Award winning musical from 1987 by James Lapine and composer Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods tells a story about a Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) and their journey into the woods in order to lift a curse that was cast on them by the Witch (Meryl Steep). During their adventure in the woods, the Baker and his wife cross paths with Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine), a young boy named Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy). As their journey unfolds and the lives of these strangers intertwine, it won’t be as easy for the Baker and his wife to lift the curse and return home.


Emily Blunt is worthy of her Golden Globe nomination in the lead role as the Baker’s Wife, who will do absolutely anything to have a child. Blunt has always been exceptional in her filmography with a versatility that few actresses possess, but her voice is extraordinarily beautiful especially in the reprise of “Children Will Listen.” The whole cast is pitch-perfect in their roles and there’s not one actor who fails to live up to their part or songs.

Meryl Streep is just fantastic and fun as the Witch. Her renditions of “Stay With Me” and “Last Midnight” give the actress much more range than her songs in 2008’s Mamma Mia. Technically the plot line revolves around the Baker and his wife, but it’s the Witch that moves the story forward interacting with almost all of the characters and Steep succeeds as both the ugly and the beautiful Witch.

Is there a more talented 20-something actress working today than Anna Kendrick? She has a voice made for Broadway and her acting chops have been off the charts in every role she’s played. Her and Blunt are just lovely during “A Very Nice Prince” and Kendrick blows it out of the water with her solo “On the Steps of the Palace.” Chris Pine is a fun addition as Cinderella’s Prince and one of my favorite songs in the musical is “Agony,” which he performs splendidly. Although Johnny Depp is only in the film for a short while as the Wolf, he steals the scenes. Depp’s voice is not too deep or raspy and just mysterious enough for the Wolf, making me reminisce for 2007’s Sweeney Todd.


Costume designer Colleen Atwood hit the nail on the head again with the gorgeous and dark-toned design of these fairy-take costumes. The Witch’s gown is gothic and wood-sy while Cinderella’s dress is glowing and glittering. Cinematographer Dion Beebe (2014’s Edge of Tomorrow) captures the production designers set beautifully while Sondheim’s score carries us through the film.

Into the Woods may not be my favorite musical, but director Rob Marshall made this musical into the greatest movie it will ever be. The ensemble is terrific, the production design and costumes flawless and songs memorable, making this film a must-see for any musical fanatic or Disney Pictures fan.

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