That very same witch offers them a solution, on the condition they head into the nearby woods and collect a series of objects so that she can concoct a fertility potion. In many ways the appeal is similar to Phillip Pullman's Grimm Tales For Young And Old (recently adapted for the stage, playing in London's Shoreditch Town Hall), which bridges the gap between younger and older audiences. Beneath the veneer of a magical tale is something altogether fundamental about human existence. Marshall has a long-running history with Sondheim, and he has clearly honoured the original, whilst making sure that his take is fully cinematic in scope. However, whilst the potential wrath of purist fans of the original will be placated, the film lacks spectacle.
This is especially true when compared to Disney's recent Maleficent (2014) - even with the presence of the redoubtable Frances de la Tour - perhaps in part due to the relatively small budget of $50m. There are also a few pacing problems, with a slump in the second act before a deeply satisfying conclusion. But the heart of the film that appeals most and underlying the medley of witty, frequently acid-tongued show tunes, is the concept that no matter how dark it gets, and however alone we feel we never truly are. Accompanied by a hilarious Emily Blunt (who once again displays sharp comic timing), Streep in full flare, and Chris Pine in an agonisingly good performance, Into the Woods makes for an unusual, incredibly pleasurable watch.
Joe Walsh | @JosephDAWalsh