In Review: Cruella

Emma Stone stars as Disney's Cruella. However, we learn that she isn't quite the evil dog-killer of the original cartoon. Her persona
Cruella

Synopsis: Emma Stone stars as Disney’s Cruella. However, we learn that she isn’t quite the evil dog-killer of the original cartoon. Her persona, and origins, are more complicated than that. Consequently, The Baroness (Emma Thompson) is largely responsible for both.

 

Story

Cruella tells the story of the infamous “puppy-killer”, who everyone knows from the cartoon. Furthermore, her evil character was further explored by Glenn Close, in 101 Dalmations (1996) and 102 Dalmations (2000). But things aren’t quite as straightforward, this time around . . . What we get here is the origin of the iconic character, and real, plausible roots to why she has a very dark side to her.

What really works in Cruella is the “two sides to every story” explored. Seeing what happens to her, as a child, is extremely telling. Then, seeing how she reacts to that is what makes for the film’s central plot. It’s part crime-caper, and part coming of age story, too. There’s some awesome moments along the way, and plenty of references to the character that everyone’s convinced they already know. But they’re proved quite wrong, in many ways. And, it’s the being proved wrong that makes for an all new take on things.

 

Acting

It’s absolutely a case of the two Emmas taking the limelight, here. Emma Stone is absolutely incredible as Cruella/Estella. Stone uses her skill to create a thoroughly convincing performance as a deeply troubled individual. But Emma Thompson also demands much praise. Her portrayal as a cold and conniving psychopath is phenomenal. She shows that she’s a truly capable actor, on her A-game.

The support cast also deserve accolade. Joel Fry does a great job playing Jasper. So too does Paul Walter Hauser as his partner in crime. Lastly, Mark Strong deserves to be mentioned, because he does what Mark Strong does best — provides absolute presence.

Stunts & Action

Perhaps one of the film’s main strengths. There’s nothing that makes the film “fantasy proper”, but there is enough to place it just outside of total plausibility. The dogs helping with the “grifts” was great fun, and the set pieces done absolutely fantastically. There is also a wonderful, over the top car chase, that looked very “cartoon”, thanks to clever choreography. Some really well done stunts.

Overall

Cruella is a prime example of a film that would have been a great pitch for our Re-launch, Reboot or Re-imagine series. But we didn’t have the idea, unfortunately. However, the team behind the film did. This movie shows that Disney continues to be relevant because it can adapt. Gone are the days when people want or expect simple stories. We live in challenging times, and so we need more complex narratives. That said, we don’t only want a character study. We want fun, adventure and also a sense of social justice, too. You get all of this and more, here. Behind it all this is a fairytale, of sorts. But it’s one that doesn’t rely on one-dimensional characters to force simple moral truths. That’s the film’s strength, as well as it being a fun romp, too with a fine soundtrack to boot.

 

9.5
In Review: Cruella
  • Story
    9.5
  • Acting
    9.5
  • Stunts & Action
    9.5
  • Incidental Music
    9.5
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