I'm a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim and in particular, I love Into the Woods. As much as I love musicals, I'm usually not a fan of stage musicals film adaptations. I think that the exaggeration and over-the-top nature of musicals, requires the physical distance that you get as an audience member during live shows. Also, theatre feeds off of the audience/performer energy and the removal of this element makes movie versions pale in comparison to a live production. I'm digressing...as a fan of the show, I had to see the movie adaptation.
PLOT - Into the Woods follows well known fairytale characters ( Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stock, Little Red Riding Hood, et..) as their fairytale dreams come true. As soon as they get their wishes, they learn that there is no such thing as living "Happily Ever After". The characters from the various tales interact when they encounter one another on their adventures in the woods.
LIKE - Overall, this is a decent adaptation of the musical. If you've never seen the stage version, then you won't know what you're missing and it won't bother you. My husband, not familiar with the musical, enjoyed it. It's easy to get swept away by Sondheim's humorous and often affecting lyrics. For me, the best part was some of the performances. I loved Meryl Streep ( she can do no wrong) as the witch and Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife. Anna Kendrick as Cinderella also gave a stand-out performance.
DISLIKE - I disliked the cuts that were made, in particular the second song that the Prince's sing. Again, this won't bother you if you don't know the show, but as a fan, the cuts drove me nuts and were a huge disappointment. I didn't like Johnny Depp as the wolf. It was typical, overly quirky, Johnny Depp. Ugh. Daniel Huttlestone as Jack, didn't work for me. He came across as whiny and irritating, rather than gullible and dreamy.
RECOMMEND - Yes. What I enjoyed, outweighed my gripes. If you're a fan, then you just have to see it for yourself and if you're not, you will probably enjoy it even more. Although it's a Disney film, it tackles weighty themes (loss of parents, infidelity, et) and is probably best for teenagers and adults. These are not the fairytale characters of a typical Disney film and the younger children in the audience with us seemed bored and confused.