All I knew about this film was that it existed. I assumed it was still in production when it suddenly came out. I haven’t been too big a fan of the live action disney adaptations lately so I didn’t exactly have great expectations, or indeed any Dickens books.
Shit, that was terrible. On with the review while I have a long hard think about my life.
I’m gonna say it, so far this is the best film I’ve seen at the cinema this year. Godzilla Vs. Kong may have benefited more from being at the cinema, and may be more technically impressive, but this is without a doubt the most I’ve enjoyed watching a film at cinema this year. It’s a bit bloated at times (it could stand to lose a good 20 minutes), and it does suffer a bit from not knowing how to use music, similar to Suicide Squad it just overloads the film with with rock music, ALL the time, not letting anything have silence. It’s almost like the film is scared that if you stop listening to the music you’ll focus on the visuals instead, which is a shame as you WANT to focus on the visuals in this, it’s a visually stunning piece of work. Okay the CGI for some parts looks a little dodgy, but the colours are phenomenal. I don’t often point out costume design in cinema, because it’s usually not something that sways my opinions on a film, I’ve never gone “well I would have really enjoyed that film, but the costumes were from 1763, when the film was actually set in 1762, might as well have given them jetpacks”. The costume design here has to be mentioned though, it’s REALLY damn good. It contributes to the look and general style of the film in a tremendous way. It kind of had to, though. It’s heavily based around the fashion industry, so if the clothes looked bad, it would have effected my enjoyment of the film as it would have seemed less real.
I will freely admit I’m not too familiar with the original 101 Dalmatians film. This is important as I’ve heard some people say they don’t like this film as it messes with the continuity of the series. I have no idea how severely it does that, so I can’t judge it on those standards, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it so that it at least looks like I know what I’m talking about. I know there are also people complaining that two white actors are played by people who are non-white, this is a complete disgrace apparently and means you should boycott the movie. Go ahead, don’t see this movie, its your loss. This is a fantastic movie, and if you’re too blinded by your stupidity (but seem okay with Cruella being English and yet very rarely being played by an English person) to see that, then you don’t deserve this movie.
Everyone else, though, you can go see it, and enjoy it. Well, you should enjoy it anyway. Everything about it just works. The performances work, not just Emma Stone as the titular character but all the supporting actors too. Fun fact, I didn’t see a trailer for this so didn’t know who was in it. And during the opening scenes I had a realisation: “Emma Thompson would make a great Cruella, or just a disney villain in general”, she then turns up as the villain in this movie. Also, she’s not in it for much but Tipper Seifert-Cleveland does brilliantly as a younger version of the character, she nails it with a confidence beyond her years.
Now onto the biggest flaw: the script is a bit bland. It never really shocks you. Characters seemingly have personality changes on a whim just to suit the narrative. Also it never REALLY examines the characters motivations for future films. It basically feels like “she wants to skin dogs because they killed her mother”, which seems a bit weak. The length of the film also works against it, it could stand to lose about 20 minutes. No major removals, just tightening up a few moments so it flows better. There is one character who could be deleted completely. Apparently she’s in the original films so I’m guessing that’s why she’s in it. But she essentially gets threatened by the villain, and then nothing comes of it. We don’t see anything bad happen to her which makes Cruella realise the consequences of her actions. Her story arc (or lack of one) doesn’t impact the film in a significant way, so can be cut, or at the very least reduced severely.
So in summary: I would recommend this film. It’s available at cinemas, and you can pay premium pass to watch it on disney+, so I assume that means it will be available for general viewing there later in the year. Well worth a watch.