Disney and Musical Theater nerds rejoiced when Disney announced it was making a live action version of INTO THE WOODS and making it into a musical as well. When first released for Christmas it definitely received some mixed reviews. Purist’s hated the fact that they changed the story to be less dark and inappropriate, and some absolutely loved the new adaptation of the show. I was mixed on my reaction of the film, I loved the music and I’m a huge Sondheim fan in general, and the sets and backgrounds were to die for, but it just didn’t completely hit it out the park for me. Even though INTO THE WOODS wasn’t perfection, I was still excited to get my hands on the Blu-ray and it does look stunning on any television!
If for any reason you haven’t seen the film or the stage version and not sure about the plot here it is in a nutshell. The baker and his wife seek to undo a curse from a witch by searching for three impossible to find items before the third midnight. Their path crosses Jack on his way to sell his family’s beloved cow, Red Riding Hood on her way to grandmother’s house, Cinderella on her way to and from the ball, and Rapunzel who is locked in a hidden tower. While the first act of the film, we are lead to believe that everyone will see their happy ending come true, but various events lead to tragedy, and some not so happy endings.
There are some great Bonus Features on this Blu-ray release which is great to see, since lately Disney’s Blu-ray releases have been lacking in the feature section. The first which has been probably the most advertised on being on the Blu-ray is the deleted song made for the movie, SHE’LL BE BACK. Director Rob Marshall gives us a brief explanation on why this song made for the film didn’t make it.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE WOODS gives a great inside look on the indoor sets made for the woods, and the outdoor locations that were modified for what the cast needed. This feature includes interviews with the design team, Sondheim, and James Lapine.
Director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca provide the AUDIO COMMENTARY for the film. It’s a great addition with lots information about giving the movie its own feel and not a complete copy of the stage version.
THE CAST AS GOOD AS GOLD explores the relationship with all the cast and director Rob Marshall. It has a lot of great behind the scenes footage and interviews from the cast.
DEEPER INTO THE WOODS is probably my favorite Bonus Feature from the Blu-ray. It is actually made up of four different featurettes. The first being FROM STAGE TO SCREEN which has the creative team talking about how they adapted the musical into a full length movie. THE MAGIC OF THE WOODS has the cast talking about how they pre-recorded vocals and also did live singing on the set, and how hard it was to playing a character in a Sondheim musical. DESIGNING THE WOODS is exactly what it sounds, exploring what it takes for the sets with designer Dennis Gassner. THE COSTUMES OF THE WOODS has Academy Award winning designer, Colleen Atwood explaining the costume designs with interviews with the cast and director.
The last feature is MUSIC AND LYRICS which lets you pick sing-along versions of every song. There is a Play All option and lyrics on the screen so you sing along. There are also a few Eater Eggs scattered around the Bonus Features, two can be found in the Music and Lyrics section by pressing up on your remote, but I won’t spoil where it is!
Overall, I was really impressed with the INTO THE WOODS Blu-ray. While some will argue about the integrity of the original story, watching it over again, I loved it even more. Disney did a great job jam packing this release with interesting extras, and I’m really looking forward to Disney’s plans for more live action musicals. INTO THE WOODS journeys home today on Blu-ray.