That first scene is pretty terrific--a real understanding of geometry and space, underplayed tension that increases unpredictably, a sense that these young men have done this before and are burying there emotions beneath jokes out of necessity, characters who seem like they could be worth meeting. But it does start going downhill after that. Oddly paced, unwieldy flashbacks, dialogue that proves boring and clichéd, blank-slate characters, and a tone that strangely never wavers from the underplayed tension of the beginning. There is hardly any variation in the flow of the film, no rise and fall, so no scene is allowed to stand out over any other. With a story like this, it must have seemed you couldn’t go wrong, but in fact there is just too much story, too many episodes of near-death that all start to feel the same. The movie turns into something of a slog.
I did like it, but it mostly made me want to read the book.
Into the Woods
I have no knowledge of Sondheim or the original version, but I quite liked the songs and ideas here. The performances and vocals are nearly all good (Depp is lousy and the kids are a little annoying), with Emily Blunt my vote for best in show (loved her final song). Funny how James Corden seems like he’s playing his character Craig from Doctor Who again. The direction, though, is a bit flat, and the production design is disappointingly familiar. We have seen the same thing recently in Once Upon a Time, Jack the Giant Killer, Maleficent, etc. and there’s nothing here to stand out from the pack. Only a couple of the songs are staged cinematically (“Agony,” “On the Steps of the Palace”) and a couple are kind of terrible (“After the Sky.” “It Takes Two”).
Worth watching, but mostly made me want to see the stage show.