The feature film Cruella, the new live action film from Walt Disney Pictures about one of its most iconic cartoon characters, premieres this Friday, May 28, both on billboards throughout Spain and in streaming for additional payment on the Disney + platform. , starring Emma Stone (Zombieland: Kill and Finish). And then you can read our review, spoiler-free.
We have already seen the latest film by Craig Gillespie (director of the multi-award-winning Yo, Tonya), from a script by Dana Fox and Tony McNamara, with a story by Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel and Steve Zissis. Producers are Andrew Gunn (put yourself in my place), Marc Platt (The return of Mary Poppins) and Kristin Burr (Christopher Robin), with Emma Stone, Michelle Wright, Jared LeBoff and Glenn Close herself (who played Cruella de Vil in the 1996 version and in its failed 2000 sequel, 102 dalmatians) as executive producers. For her part, costume designer Jenny Beavan, winner of two Oscars (Mad Max: Fury Road) has been commissioned to create the film’s dazzling costumes.
After succeeding with Yo, Tonya, the bar was very high, but certain patterns are repeated with respect to his previous film. And we’re not just referring to the voiceover and flashbacks, but also the coincidence that a supporting actress (Allison Janney in Yo, Tonya and Emma Thompson in ‘Cruella’, manage to outshine the protagonist) and that a supporting actor (Paul Walter Hauser in both films) manages to steal scenes from more popular and prestigious interpreters.
We find a new version, in a comedy key and working as a prequel spin-off of the animated film 101 Dalmatians, from the Disney classic, narrated this time from the point of view of the evil Cruella de Vil, as a young con artist, an intelligent and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs, who uses them in her robberies and scams, in London in the 70s, in the middle of the punk rock revolution. In this way, we learn about the origins of the evil one from the original story, an orphan named Estella, who is played by Emma Stone, the winner of the Academy Award; and that he will be raised with two orphaned petty thieves, named Horace / Horacio (Paul Walter Hauser, Raymond in ‘Cobra Kai’) and Jasper / Gaspar (Joel Fry, who played Hizdahr zo Loraq in ‘Game of Thrones’). Estella’s goal will be to get the attention of Baroness Von Hellman, a fashion legend (played by two Oscar-winning Emma Thompson, Petra in ‘Last Christmas’), but her personal assistant John (Mark Strong, Dr. Sivana in ‘Shazam!’) Will not take his eyes off her.
Although the spotlight was focused on Emma Stone, and seeing her evolution from the sweet Estella to the vengeful Cruella, however the veteran actress Emma Thompson is the best of the film, she thinks she is the queen of the film and looks more and better than anyone. Each appearance of the Baroness is a gift to the viewer, which can remind us of Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. Without detracting from the leading actress, who also offers a good performance (although it is not the best of her career), it is Thompson herself and Paul Walter Hauser who most want the spotlights for themselves, starring in the best sequences of the film (not counting the scenes fruit of trompe l’oeil and conveniences of a highly improvable script, especially considering that it has gone through five people). Meanwhile, the breakthrough performance of John McCrea (who played Tiff in the series ‘Giri / Haji: Duty / Dishonor’) stands out, building Artie’s character as if he were the spitting image of David Bowie, and promising that his performances in future productions they will give a lot to talk about. On the other hand, the flat performances of Joel Fry and Mark Strong detract from the final result, where especially the latter seems that he simply went for the check (although it may also be that the scissors of a montage that can be seen at the seams have caused having seen his best scenes deleted).
But if there is something that also deserves a worthy mention, it is the costumes, the designer Jenny Beavan proves to have a lot of talent, taking the viewer into a unique world of colors and shapes, with impossible and very original dresses and hairstyles, showing a great variety of designs , from the sober and elegant of the Baroness collection, to the carefree and groundbreaking pieces that Cruella proposes in her public appearances.
As for the film itself, the story is entertaining, being more hooligan than the animated version of Disney, although it does not risk as much as one would have expected. It has interesting scenes, but it also suffers from an excessively long footage (2 hours and 14 minutes long) and a montage and plot that do not risk anything; where a development of the story that goes from less to more really begins to take off when Cruella makes her appearance, especially when she begins to publicly challenge the Baroness. Until then, the film introduces the viewer into a lethargy from which only sporadic moments can wake him up; without forgetting the inevitable and foreseeable final twist, as well as a couple of sequences that despite the tricks, script conveniences and artistic licenses, allow the protagonist of the story to shine. Seen in perspective with the final product, the scenes of Cruella as a child add little to the film, especially those at school; where it only serves to lengthen the footage.
The result is an acceptable and entertaining product, better than other productions such as the live action version of Cinderella, but far from other recreations such as The Jungle Book or Maleficent herself, which was the film that opened the ban in terms of adaptations of Disney stories from the point of view of the antagonist. Of course, we will find many references and jokes in relation to the animated film ‘101 Dalmatians’ from 1961 and the adaptation in flesh and blood starring Glenn Close in 1996; as well as a scene in the middle of the end credits that connects directly with the original film (do not expect second post-credits scene, Marvel style, nor for Nick Fury to appear to welcome the Avengers team).
Curiously, one of the best aspects of the film is its careful soundtrack, full of punk and rock themes from the 70s, highlighting in particular the successful choice of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ of the Rolling Stones when Cruella makes her big final scene.