Updates Archive for Reviews

This weekend saw Into the Woods sweep into the US box office chart with a phenomenal 3-day $31M gross (and a 4-day $46.1M gross) making it the biggest ever US opening for a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical in history.

The film has now well and truly beaten the previous record holder Mamma Mia, which opened to a $27.8M three-day gross in 2008, as well as the $27.3M opening weekend figure for Les Miserables in 2012.

Into the Woods has also received multiple Golden Globe® nominations – Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actress (Emily Blunt) and Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), as well as London Critics’ Circle Film Award nominations – British Actress of the Year (Emily Blunt) and Young British Performer of The Year (Daniel Huttlestone), highlighting the film’s impressive wealth of great British talent, which also includes James Corden, Tracey Ullman and Lucy Punch.

Interest from all generations also made Into The Woods the 4th biggest Christmas Day opening ever in the US with families of all ages enjoying the big screen musical adventure. Since its release the film’s original motion picture soundtrack, featuring 20 show-stopping tracks, has also achieved top five best seller status on Amazon in the US and charted within the iTunes US music store top ten.

Reactions from both US & UK critics reflect the film’s US box outstanding office results:

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

“The film is a whirl of pure pleasure that just keeps whirling”

Stephen Holden, New York Times,

Splendid Disney screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

“The trip ‘Into the Woods’ is spooky, thoughtful, delightful.”

Lou Lumenick, New York Post

“Bewitching Into the Woods is this century’s best musical”

As the reviews pour in, let’s see what the critics have to say about Into the Woods!

Matt Tamanini, BroadwayWorld: For many musical theatre fans, a beloved Broadway musical, fairly faithfully, adapted into a stunning big screen success, is their most treasured of Christmas wishes. In recent years, however, the holidays have brought us near misses (LES MISERABLES), underwhelming disappointments (RENT), and outright abominations (NINE). However, Disney’s INTO THE WOODS, opening nationwide on Christmas Day, is those musical theatre fans’ wish fulfilled. With a cast of Hollywood A-listers and Broadway alums, all of whom prove more than capable of handling Stephen Sondheim‘s uniquely intricate and intellectual music and lyrics, this very well might be the most effectively adapted movie musical of the past half century. The lush orchestrations, the gorgeous settings, and the spectacular cast had a smile plastered on my face from the film’s first note until its last.

Pat Cerasaro, “Sound Off” column for BroadwayWorld: A new generation, a new era, a new take – a new INTO THE WOODS that glitters onscreen and glows in the hearts of those who let it in. A movie musical made for 2014, telling tales told countless times before in a thoughtful, meaningful and sophisticated manner, INTO THE WOODS on film lands right where we always wanted it to – square between our brains, eyes, ears and hearts. A wish fulfilled, overflowing with love.

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Streep, in striking blue hair and long twisted nails, is at the heart of the mayhem, having dangled the promise of a baby to the childless Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) and her husband (James Corden). Blunt brings just the right blend of poignancy and humor to her character and is also a lovely singer…Another treat is Anna Kendrick’s Cinderella, who has more angst and depth than the familiar cheery Disney version.

Alan Henry, BroadwayWorld: Streep is brilliant and unique in her role. Her witch is quirky, unpredictable, and terrifying. Streep sings gloriously in this picture, and delivers everything from beautiful, legato singing lines sung flawlessly all the way to a high belt with the perfect amount of vibrato. For me, this performance is an obvious Oscar contender… Rob Marshall has crafted an excellent film for all ages. It is an excellent introduction to more sophisticated musical theatre – or a great medium in which to revisit a familiar classic. If you’re looking for an engaging, family-friendly film to take in on Christmas day, this is the right choice for you. If you’re looking for a feel-good holiday film, be forewarned this just might not be your cup of tea.

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair: Though she doesn’t have much to do, Tracey Ullman was an inspired choice to play Jack’s mother. Christine Baranski is also well chosen, appropriately daffy and imperious as Cinderella’s stepmother. As that forlorn hearth sweep, Anna Kendrick shows a knack for Sondheim’s particular phrasing, and sings both nimbly and sweetly in “On the Steps of the Palace” and “No One Is Alone.” Emily Blunt isn’t quite as vocally gifted, but she gives the Baker’s Wife the required amount of earthy spunk. I had my doubts about Chris Pine, who plays Prince Charming, but he and Broadway vet Billy Magnussen do a wonderful “Agony” together, that blissfully goofy song best surviving the stage-to-screen translation.

Catherine Shoard, The Guardian: a clutch of very fine performances help see you though: predictability Meryl Streep, best at her most vulnerable; less predictably Emily Blunt, who’s fresh and very funny as the baker’s wife, consistently rising above the pack with off-beat readings. Her embarrassed encounters with the prince channel early Emma Thompson, her easily swayed heart is sweet and human in a land of cutouts. She can sing, too. It’s this shock combo which presumably earned her a Golden Globe nomination alongside Streep, rather than the much-fancied Anna Kendrick, who makes less of an impression as indecisive Cinders.

Jordan Adler, We Got This Covered: This swift moving, sensationally acted adaptation has such an appealing cast of crowd-pleasers – among them, the spritely Anna Kendrick and a ravishing Meryl Streep – giving their all, that Marshall has the actors perform out to the audience, again. The effect is dizzying enjoyment and entertainment. Even those who normally scoff at movie musicals will find it hard to resist a swooning Chris Pine and As The World Turns’ Billy Magnussen mugging to the camera as they explain their romantic woe in the song “Agony.”

Stephen Collins, Britishtheatre.com: The third surprise is the excellent way the magic is realised. Not really a surprise, I guess, because film can achieve more than stage every time – but here there is wonderful illusion: the wild, explosive appearances and disappearances of the Witch, the evocation of Cinderella’s dress, the beanstalk, the revival from death of Milky White, the blue moon, the remarkable ending to Last Midnight. The magic is beautifully, compellingly realised.

Scott Foundas, Variety: For all those reasons and more, the chief virtue of this “Into the Woods” is a feeling of relief. Marshall hasn’t made one of the great movie musicals here, but he hasn’t bungled it either – far from it. Aficionados who know the show by heart will fully recognize what they see here (and actually be able to see it, after the frantic, seizure-inducing editing of “Chicago” and “Nine”), while new audiences will more than get the gist, a touch condensed and Disneyfied perhaps, but to little overall detriment.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: screenwriter James Lapine, adapting his own book for the show, has retained the balance of dark and light, shaping a cohesive story of resilience and maturation out of multiple strands without leaning too hard on the sentiment. What was played for gallows humor onstage is often treated more earnestly here, and the violence and tragedy are suggested more than shown. But there’s enough Brothers Grimm in the tone to offset charges of Disney-fication.

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph: But that’s more than enough magic to be getting on with, and you don’t miss a surer hand or livelier eye in charge. The film is a whirl of pure pleasure that just keeps whirling: Sondheim doesn’t write show-stoppers but show-surgers, and from the moment the glorious opening number whips up, introducing the central players, the film cartwheels onwards until it lands at its unexpected but quite beautiful happy-ever-after with a Jack-and-Jill-sized bump.

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: The unexpected standouts here are Blunt, who manages the songs, the comedy and the despair of the baker’s wife with utter brilliance, and Chris Pine (channeling all the inner Shatner that he’s kept out of the “Star Trek” movies) and Billy Magnussen (“Damsels in Distress”) as the charming princes whose duet on “Agony” is a comic highlight. Preening, pouting and posing their way through a catalog of angst, these two showboat like contestants in a Fabio-hosted reality show dance-off.

Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent: You can’t help but think the film would have been better suited to the Gothic imagination of a Tim Burton than to a director like Marshall, who specialises in more conventional adaptations of musicals. It has been made with plenty of high spirits but in a very choppy way. Some moments work, some don’t. The film-makers aren’t exactly lost in the woods, but nor do they ever give us much sense that they know or care in which direction they are going.

Necrobot in Movies, Big Shiny Robot: James Corden is perhaps the most unexpectedly awesome member of the cast. He manages to find the emotional core of his character while remaining charming and approachable. In contrast to Corden’s humble Baker, Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen are perfectly self-absorbed as the pair of princes who are out to court Cinderella and Rapunzel. Their performance of “Agony” while artfully tearing their shirts open in the middle of a rushing creek was nothing short of comedic gold.

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily: The audience will have a fine time – the characters, less so – with Into The Woods, an energetic, likable adaptation of the beloved musical from Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. A darkly comic, sneakily touching tale of a collection of fairy tale icons who discover how hard it is to find a happy ending, this big-screen version ably demonstrates the staying power of Sondheim’s 28-year-old tunes and the mythic resonance of Lapine’s storytelling. Director Rob Marshall gives the film a professional polish, and while the results aren’t always inspired, the source material is strong enough that it hardly matters.

Stella Papamichael, Digital Spy: Thank goodness for a constellation of stars who manage to rise above, particularly Meryl Streep whose wicked witch livens up many a scene. James Corden and Emily Blunt spark off each other well, too, as the humble baker and his wife who are childless thanks to one of the witch’s spells and venture into the woods in an effort to break it…This isn’t a happily ever after kind of fairytale, but it seems that Marshall and Disney haven’t really come to an agreement on what kind of story it should be and crucially, who it’s aimed at.

David Edelstein, Vulture: Now here it is, getting a full, lavish Disney studio production with big-deal movie stars (Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp) and somehow working as well if not better than it did almost 30 years ago on Broadway. My euphoria lasted a long, long time … but all good things must end. The good-hearted plodder of a baker and his goosey wife are the real protagonists of Into the Woods, and they’re all you could hope for here. James Corden is a wonderfully funny, self-effacing bloke – I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing him nightly, hosting his own show after Colbert. Maybe he’ll have Emily Blunt as a guest. It’s her movie. Dizzy, pop-eyed, blurty, she gives this unwieldy saga its daft, farcical heart.

Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News: Loyal fans of the Sondheim original may feel a bit let down themselves. There’s much to love here. But working with original “Woods” writer and Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, Marshall tones down the crucial dark shading in some places and has trouble with pacing in others. Still, the life lessons are delivered with insight and heart, the rightfully beloved music is well handled and the cast is so enthusiastic that we can excuse some rough patches.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: The marquee attraction, of course, is Meryl Streep as a singing witch. The good news is, she not only looks like she’s having a blast, she’s far better belting show tunes in a fright wig and crone’s putty than she was without them in Mamma Mia! But the show really belongs to James Corden (a Tony winner for One Man, Two Guvnors) and Emily Blunt as his-and-hers bakers whose quest to track down a laundry list of mystical doodads like Little Red’s cape and Jack’s white cow drives the plot. They’re not just adorable in their desire to reverse the witch’s curse and start a family, they’ve also got impressive pipes.

Last night saw the premiere of ABC’s Forever. We have added x55 screencaps of Mackenzies appearance in the Pilot episode to the gallery … (we will update with HD as soon as possible!)

Some review quotes for Forever,

“Forever” is a fresh and quirky take on the many crime dramas currently on TV. Viewers can’t help but compare Gruffudd’s character to Sherlock Holmes as he remembers minuscule details from years ago and uses his keen sense of observation to put together clues. Intertwined is a tragic love story of Henry’s one love, Abigail (Mackenzie Mauzy), and touching tale of his connection to Abe (Judd Hirsch) – a man who Henry and Abigal had rescued as a baby from a concentration camp. ibtimes.com

The show does have a spark when Henry and a detective named Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza) interact. Both have lost loves in their past, and Jo senses there’s something different about Henry; her efforts to figure out what it is promise to provide some intrigue. And giving Henry a sidekick, Abe, who knows his secret is a nice touch. The actual crimes in the first two episodes, though, feel like the same old same old, immortal medical examiner or not. nytimes.com

Forever isn’t the most exciting new series of the fall (that title probably belongs to The CW’s The Flash) but Gruffudd is incredibly charming in the lead role, and Judd Hirsch’s Abe—a kind of sidekick-y pal of Henry’s who knows the truth about his condition—adds just the right amount of gravitas and sincerity to the premise. Joel David Moore, who works with Henry at the ME’s office, aptly fills the quirky “not in on the secret but will totally learn it soon” role, while De La Garza is sexy and confident as Jo. There’s nothing about Forever that makes it stand out—it’s fairly vanilla—but I think that’s why it works. The series isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is, and maybe that’s all it needs to do. After all, vanilla is still a very enjoyable flavor. tv.com

The mysteries he and Martinez tackle are rather pro forma, but that’s not what tends to keep shows like Castle and Bones on the air season after season. It’s more about enjoying being in the company of these charismatic characters, and there’s strong chemistry between the debonair Gruffudd and the earthy De La Garza. Add the immortality angle, and a nice sinister twist suggesting Morgan may not be the only one of his kind, and you’ve got the makings of a show that could conceivably make it to 200 episodes, if not 200 years. hudson.wickedlocal.com

ABC’s “Forever” will premiere at its normal time slot on ABC on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 10 p.m. EDT.

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