Of course the movie Cruella (Craig Gillespie, 2021) from Disney Plus is not exactly one of those new versions of the animated classics of Mickey’s factory in real action, but rather a prequel to what could be in the future.
It should not be included, then, in the conceptual category of the correct Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton, 2010), the energetic The Jungle Book (John Favreau, 2016), the musical nonsense of the soulless La bella y the beast (Bill Condon, 2017), the finally consistent The Lion King, the passable Aladdin (Favreau, Guy Ritchie, 2019) or the honorable Mulán (Niki Caro, 2020). In fact, considering that there was already such a remake of the original story, available on Disney Plus, this new film should be marked as a reboot or reboot if anything.
Why ‘Cruella’ catches the viewer
It is not surprising, in another vein, that the Mickey Mouse company has trusted the Australian Craig gillespie to direct Cruella. After the farting comedy Question of balls, the independent Lars and a real girl (2007), with which we look at him, his six episodes of United States of Tara (Diablo Cody, 2009-2011) and the reformulation of Scary Night (2011) according to the homonymous film (Tom Holland, 1985), the The filmmaker had previously worked for Disney on The Million Dollar Boy (2014) and The Decisive Hour (2016).
But not in his work most valued by professional critics to date, the Oscar winner Me, tonya (2017). So, after three projects in a row that are based on true experiences, he has launched into a villain as iconic as Cruella de Vil.
His effortful revisitation of the character, created by the English writer Dodie Smith in her novel 101 Dalmatians (1956) and which the whole world knew from the homonymous adaptation in animated cinema (Wolfgang Reitherman, Clyde Geronimi and Hamilton Luske, 1961) of her own Disney, enjoys a undeniable dynamism.
A virtue due to energetic visual apparatus that Cruella wears, with the occasional dabuten sequence shot, and its powerful and strategic montage, the work of Tatiana S. Riegel, who has collaborated with Craig Gillespie in the same position since Lars and a Real Girl. If this does not catch you even from its naive beginning, you should look again. Your cinematic experience, although it does not leave too much residue in the viewer, yeah it is enjoyed because it entertains and flies by.
Some verisimilitude issues
It is an obvious success that a good part of the plot revolves around an obsession with fashion and that dogs intervene; and that motivations and plans on robberies are developed, finish its elemental link with the original story. However, if a great but can be put to Cruella is that not entirely credible due to the unresolved issue that has always been attributed to feature films like Superman (Richard Donner, 1978).
Nor, to a greater extent, Estella’s evolution to its destination, diffuse and somewhat arbitrary at best. It does not even seem that it is consumed here because there is no clarity and definition about it, no matter how much the scriptwriters Dana Fox (Home Before Dark) and Tony McNamara (The Great) strive to provide it with a double plot support.
The two Emmas: a pair of charismatic actresses
The soundtrack of Nicholas Britell (Succession) is displayed discreet but effective. Same as the cast of secondary Cruella, in which Joel Fry (Game of Thrones) and Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) as Jasper and Horace, Emily Beecham (Into the Badlands) as Catherine, Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) and Andrew Leung (Lilting) ) as John the valet and Jeffrey, John McCrea (God’s Land) as Artie and Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Barry) and Kayvan Novak (What We Do in the Shadows) as Roger and Anita Darling accompany a couple of formidable actresses.
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The charisma they give off the two namesakes, Emma Stone (Birdman) and Emma Thompson (Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban), incarnating Cruella and the Baroness seems unquestionable. Above all, that of the veteran interpreter.
We do not know if the work of the protagonist will overshadow that of the colossal Glenn Close -Here, executive producer- as the same Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians (Stephen Herek, 1996) and its continuation (Kevin Lima, 2000), two films that are regrettable in themselves without the need to compare them with the very decent of Craig Gillespie. But viewers will be able to form their own opinion on that on the Disney Plus platform.
Cruella, starring Emma Stone, follows the first steps of one of the most infamous and elegant villains in cinema.