One of the summer's biggest movies will be premiering simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access.

We had a chance to see Emma Stone's starring performance in the new Disney movie. If you've been wondering whether it's worth a trip into the vast world or the extra fee for the entire family to enjoy from the comfort of your own home, we hope to make the decision a little easier for you.

Most everyone is familiar with Cruella De Vil, who ranks as one of the top Disney villains of all time. Glenn Close is the most memorable live-action Cruella, with her performance cementing the evil villainess for her hatred of dogs and love of puppy pelts to her overt greed and vanity.

Cruella means to reset the narrative, unveiling a full origin story for Cruella and positing that, perhaps, she's been misunderstood.

Frankly, it's a little jarring to imagine that the Cruella we've all known might not be evil incarnate, so director Craig Gillespie needed to make any transformation as plausible as possible.

If there is a problem with the movie other than rewriting history, it's overly long, lingering too long in Cruella's childhood, a time of her life in which she suffers a tragedy, discovers a found family, and reveals a love for dogs.

From the moment she was born, Estella (as she was named) fought a vicious battle between being the sweet daughter of Emily Beecham's Catherine and a side of her, Cruella, that she cannot tame and gets her into a lot of trouble.

Her mother spends as much time doting on her as she does reminding her to stifle Cruella, yang to her Estella yin, which manifests in her two-tone hair.

A general love for canines means little when her mother dies, seemingly at the hand of three dalmatians at the behest of their nasty owner, The Baroness, played by Emma Thompson.

If there is a Glenn Close-like performance in the film, it comes from Thompson, who gives The Baroness all of the traits we've come to expect from Cruella De Vil.

As Estella grows into young adulthood, she's eager for vengeance against the arrogant Baroness, which she hopes to get by infiltrating her fashion empire.

Years of being an outcast have given Estella a keen awareness of how to blend in and stand out, a perfect combination for the fashion industry.

With the help of her two childhood friends who lifted her up when she needed their strength, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), they use all of the tools in Disney's arsenal to pull off the con of a lifetime.

Cruella is set in the 1960s and 1970s when fashion was colorful and electric.

The film is visually stunning and at its best when the beats of familiar pop hits play atop Cruella, besting the Baroness' fashion house time and again.

As Young Estella, Tipper Seifert-Cleveland does an admirable job of a young woman battling her duality, wanting to please her loving mother without sacrificing her inquisitive and precocious tendencies.

By the time Stone takes over the role, we've got a feel for a young woman besieged with guilt and anger over her mother's death who is adept at fitting in, even if it's not her nature to do so.

With Stone as Cruella, the term villainess was going to be a stretch. She's just too darn likable to stand in historical Cruella's shoes. It doesn't seem that was ever the expectation, so it works out for the best.

While Thompson's Baroness is the real heavy in this family movie, Stone gets some material to cut her teeth on as Estella ditches her carefully formed persona and embraces the Cruella she's been itching to release.

Her arrival explodes with music and color, and Cruella has a few shady moments that imply she's teetering on the edge of good and evil, and by the end of the film, we're not entirely sure on which side of the fence she will fall.

Cruella De Vil is Disney royalty, but this origin story offers the possibility of a different future for the villainess.

How this film is received will likely determine the nature of her next appearance, as the groundwork has been laid to turn this into a franchise and not stop with this one film.

Other actors in the film have smaller roles, but they are also set up for more substantive scenarios should this become a full-blown franchise.

Stone, Thompson, Fry, and Hauser are joined by Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Estella's only childhood friend before her mother's death and subsequently a reporter who helps her friend get the drop on The Baroness.

Mark Strong plays John the Valet, in a role that screams franchise opportunity because of how unimpressive it is for his stature.

And, finally, John McCrea is a shop owner named Artie whose flamboyance and exuberance for fashion matches Cruella's.

At two hours and 16 minutes, several areas could have been sacrificed or shortened, but that's more of a nitpick while watching than it flavors the picture in hindsight.

For a blockbuster movie building a new franchise for Disney, there is enough here to work with that children and their families will enjoy the fresh take on the lasting villain, moving Cruella into antihero territory.

Cruella premieres in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access on Friday, May 28.



Post a Comment


Popular Posts