Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser and Mark Strong
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna, Steve Zissis, Dana Fox, Tony McNamara and Kelly Marcel
‘Cruella’ marks an important change in Disney releases, with the live action prequel of a beloved animated family favourite becoming something more darker and grown up than anything the studio has released in recent years. Led by Emma Stone as the titular character, the film follows the backstory of the soon-to-be villain, and explores in detail the events which led her to become the frightening villain who reigns over ‘101 Dalmatians’.
One of the most visibly intriguing elements of ‘Cruella’ is the fashion design. Set in 1970’s London, and drawing from designers of the time such as punk icon Vivienne Westwood, the importance of clothing within the narrative is reinforced greatly by the detailed and extravagant outfits adorned by each character – with the two leading ladies in particular boasting some of the most daring designs. Through its use of costume, ’Cruella’ is able to show a visual tension within the story which reflects the conflict between Cruella and the Baroness.
It can’t be denied that the film makes great use of the funk, punk and classic rock tracks which litter the soundtrack, with many of these being incorporated during exciting and captivating montages. Particular sequences such as heists being pulled off throughout the middle act benefit greatly not only from the use of music, but also the precise and informative editing which leaves no plot point underdeveloped. With a runtime of 134 minutes, this frequent use of montage also helps to keep the film from feeling uninteresting at any points – a great thing to boast as a Summer blockbuster aimed towards families and young teens. However, with this rise in soundtrack-reliant and overly montage-dependent films which seems to have suddenly appeared throughout Hollywood in recent years – perhaps being traced back to the nostalgic sounds of 2013’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ – it’s hard not to wonder whether these large studios may be catering towards the shortened attention spans of modern audiences, with moments of sincerity being cut short and extremely calculated, as a way to make the next montage only feel even more exciting. It’s undeniable that ‘Cruella’ is a fun film, but if a greater number of blockbusters in recent years follow in it’s footsteps, audiences may only become greater dependent on this unrelentingly high tempo style of filmmaking.
As the two lead characters, Stone and Thompson face off in a battle to outperform one another. Although occasionally limited by the clearly 12A script, the drama and tension between the two is one of the greatest parts of ‘Cruella’, and any moment where they share the screen is a moment of excitement and intrigue, not often seen in modern blockbusters. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser also put in some great performances as Estella’s partners-in-crime, playing off one another brilliantly, as well as providing a strong contrast to the fierce persona of Cruella.
As far as Summer blockbusters go, you couldn’t ask for too much from ‘Cruella’. It’s fun, exciting, sounds great, looks great, and best of all, keeps you engaged throughout it’s slightly lengthy runtime. With cinemas now open and in full swing, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a trip out.