Starring Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Mark Strong
One of the first big releases to hit the small and silver screen here in the UK since cinema’s have opened their doors is Cruella, an origin story/prequel introducing us all to how Cruella put the devil into De-vil.
With nearly every single live-action Disney movie of recent years getting mixed reviews to go with their large box office returns, we are in familiar territory as the House of Mouse attempts to add a 4K shine on a classic character for a new audience; not that those new audiences can’t go and enjoy the originals on Disney+, but that’s an argument for another post!
It’s a relief to be able to say that Cruella is an enjoyable movie, especially in the cinema. The soundtrack is as loud as the outfits, with the two leading actors at their dazzling best. Both Emma’s are fantastic; Emma Stone’s Cruella has attitude in abundance and although she is horrible, the like-ability of Stone, coupled with the fun story, means that you root for her even in the darker moments. At the beginning of the picture she is Estella, an awkward and very Emma Stone character who is keen to fit in. This is all well and good but when Cruella brings out her black and white hair and her punk outfits, the movie and Stone herself truly comes alive. The second half of the film does outshine the first as the whole things feels like Joker for kids.
The only person who could match Stone is Emma Thompson, who plays Cruella’s boss and mentor, Baroness Von Hellman. Thompson is another excellent casting choice as you feel that she is a Cruella from another generation. She’s a confident, mean and graceful character that doesn’t take no for an answer; truly fabulous darling!
The rest of the cast is a little hit and miss as Disney roll out a raft of, mainly British cameos that don’t always hit the mark. This isn’t due to their ability though, the script seems to be going for British awkwardness and dry wit which is usually the way with Hollywood but the laughs never really land as they should (apart from one cake gag which is hilarious!) One other stereotype that the film lands on is the soundtrack. At first the rock songs and the soul music really do set the scene but after that it’s clear to see (or to hear) that they have thrown a lot of money at a soundtrack and need to use it. Sometimes it works but at others it takes away from the action.
All in all this is one of the stronger live-action Disney outings, mainly due to its original story. Cruella would be lacking without its leads and is definitely worth sticking on to enjoy a bit of punk, 60’s music and a movie that is welcome in the 101 Dalmatians canon.
Cruella available in cinemas now and on Disney+ with premier access for £19.99