Saturday, March 28, 2015

Annie (2014), Into the Woods (2014)

Not really a review this time, as I didn't finish either of these movies. Though don't hold that against them, it was not related to my enjoyment or lack of but mostly family related things. Same thing happened during the lego movie, I loved that one but I still walked out of the theater.

Annie, I will start off by saying I have not seen the original. Or if I had years and years ago, I don't recall it. I knew the basic story going into it, but that was about it. Annie is the story of a orphan who is trying to find her parents. It is also the story of a would be politician who tries to use her to his advantage to win some votes. Together they seemed to be helping each other in their own way, though I never did see the conclusion of it all.

Quvenzhane Wallis played Annie, she is a cute kid and she can sing. She seems like she can act, though this role never really called for that in the 70% of the film I saw. She just came off as underwhelming most of the time. Though given her age, I can't really fault her to much for that. She is already far better at acting then I could be. Still she was enjoyable enough to watch, and she brought a decent amount of energy to pretty much all her scenes. It would be hard to dislike her or the character.

Jamie Foxx played Will Stacks, the Daddy Warbucks of this movie. For those of you groaning about them swapping up the characters, the movie actually opens with a little girl who resembles the original Annie. They have a decent joke about it and move on, I think that is a pretty good attitude to have in these sort of situations. Foxx is a great actor, no doubt about that. And he did great in this role, I was just disappointed I didn't get to see him sing. Maybe it happened near the end, who knows. His character provided a good amount of humor, and Foxx played him in a quirky manner that was enjoyable to see.

They did borrow a few songs from the original, they pretty much had to. Though they did touch up some of the lyrics to fit the songs within the more modern setting. They also came up with new arrangements for similar reasons. The songs were not bad, catchy enough. Though I do wonder if the purists will enjoy the more pop variations on the classics. The new songs really did not stand out as much, though that could have easily been due to them not having the iconic status that something like "It's a Hard Knock Life" It is a musical, you go into it wanting to hear solid performances. It had some good moments, but overall it never really delivered on that aspect of it.

I stopped the movie, and ended up returning it with 30 or so minutes left. I really wish I had been able to finish it, I was enjoying it so far. It was not a amazing film, and it is not one I would put up against the other big name musicals that have come out in recent years. But it had its own charm, and for a rental that is more then enough.

Into the Woods, also a musical based off of a stage show, is a mish-mash of various fairy tales. It takes a few well known stories and tries to create a narrative that brings them all together into one big story. Little Red Riding hood, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Cinderella, and a few others. They use a central character of The Baker and his wife to do this. The Bakers father angered the Witch who then put a curse on his family so they could not have children. She was then turned ugly in the process due to the Bakers father stealing her magic beans. She enlists the Bakers help, as the two curses can be broken using the same method. The Baker and his wife need to find a Cloak as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a cow as white as milk, and a golden slipper. There is also the added stipulation all must be the woods. You should be seeing how this is coming together. The baker and his wife interact with the other stories and in a sense change them in order to collect the ingredients. Now this is a darker telling of the stories, and it has a big event at the end that furthers that. Though I never saw how it all ended up. 30 minutes left on the clock when I turned it off. Odd thing is, I still have the movie, I just don't care to finish it up.

The way it was presented, you could see and feel the broadway underneath it. It just was a horrible translation into the big screen. Cheap visuals that remind you of a stage show, horrible pacing, and just a bad presentation. It had a cool story, and a neat idea. It just could not do anything with it. It didn't help that the songs were pretty bland as well. Talented singers and actors, but everything just felt dull and boring. Meryl Streeps "witch" was the high point of the film for me. She had crazy down, and seeing her randomly pop up and scare the baker usually brought me a smile. But that was really the only thing I remember enjoying about this one.

For a rental, it may be worth checking out if you are a fan of the stage show. But for everybody else, I would just advise on passing.