Cruella - Reviewed By Dj Mack


 Disney has been a huge proponent of the ongoing remake trend, which allows studios to cash in on old properties that still have name recognition rather than develop new ideas from scratch. From a business standpoint, who can blame them? The company has raked in billions of dollars from recent flicks like Aladdin and The Lion King. Creatively, however, the results have been hit or miss.

I’ll admit I was less than enthused when I heard Disney’s next stab at reviving an old property would be an origin story for 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella De Vil. Do we really need to spend more time with a woman who wants to skin puppies and turn them into a coat? Turns out the answer yes, we absolutely do.

Cruella has no business being this fantastic. But thanks to director Craig Gillespie’s love of eccentric characters, a clever screenplay (credited to Dana Fox and Tony McNamara), an enthusiastic cast and a killer soundtrack, the result is a total blast. I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong.

In this creative reimagining, Emma Stone plays Estella, a clever, creative girl who dreams of a career in the fashion world. However, in 1970s London, no one breaks into the business without the approval of the terrifying Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). After the young woman’s designs catch the legend’s eye, the two forge a tenuous business relationship, but a series of shocking revelations cause Estella to embrace her dark side and become the iconic Cruella de Vil.

As with revisionist stories like Maleficent and Wicked, the film paints its central character not as an outright villain, but as a misunderstood antihero who refuses to conform to cultural norms. Still, since this is a Disney flick, we also get a startlingly appropriate and – let’s be honest – darkly funny origin for her hatred of Dalmatians.

Stone is dynamite as Estella, an outcast who is primarily considered “evil” because she exists within a society than doesn’t know what to do with smart, headstrong women. Some actors phone it in for these Disney remakes, but not her. She fully commits to the role, portraying Estella and her alter ego Cruella has two completely different characters, changing her mannerisms, body language, vocal inflections, etc. It’s fun to watch the transformation.

Additionally, Fox and McNamara’s screenplay retcons some of the overtly evil stuff from the 1961 animated film in clever ways that keep viewers from hating the character outright. That includes Cruella leaning into rumors that she murders animals, using the urban legend to bolster her dark reputation.

Thompson is equally brilliant, of course. When is she not fantastic? As the film’s true villain, she pays homage to Meryl Streep’s savage fashionista from The Devil Wears Prada but eliminates any trace of redeeming qualities. She chews scenery like crazy (and is clearly having a blast doing it), but never goes so over-the-top that it takes you out of the story.

There’s also great supporting work from talented actors like Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser (playing Cruella’s delightfully bumbling associates Jasper and Horace), as well as Mark Strong, John McCrea and Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Each of these characters are interesting enough for their own movies, especially since they feel so at home in this vibrant, punk rock interpretation of London.

Gillespie, who also directed I, Tonya and the upcoming Hulu series about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, was the perfect choice to helm Cruella. Admittedly, it’s still a massive Disney tentpole, but the PG-13 rating and slightly twisted setting allows the filmmaker to make it a little meaner and rough-edged than typical remakes aimed at kids.

Finally, I can’t say enough about the great soundtrack (which I started looking for online almost as soon as the movie was over), Nicholas Britell’s fantastic score, the gorgeous costume design by Jenny Beavan and Tom Davies, as well as Fiona Crombie’s lavish production design. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Cruella rack up several behind-the-camera Oscar nominations next year. They’d be well-earned.

Cruella is rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements. Opens in theaters on May 28 and on Disney+ with Premier Access for a onetime additional fee.

Grade: A-

A live-action prequel to the feature film that tells the story of a young Cruella de Vil (played by Emma Stone). In 1970's London, she aims to leave her mark on the fashion world amidst the backdrop of the punk revolution. Befriending a pair of thieves who share her predilection for mischief, the trip establish a life for themselves in London. Are you ready for her reign of terror and mischief, darling???
The Baroness was more "cruel" than Cruella was - and you will find that out immediately! You will wanna punch that lady in the face! I had to get that out first. 
Even though this was a prequel to show us how Estella came to become Cruella & had never been done before (at least not to my knowledge) the movie was better than what anyone could - or would have expected.
I had the opportunity to see the film in Dolby which is the BEST AND ONLY way to see films on the Big Screen in my candid opinion. It was lovely, darling as Cruella and her fellaz would say, shall they? Emma Stone really played her role to a C or a T! She was brilliant just as her character wanted to be - a radiant and brilliant fashion designer. 
The movie was very funny thanks to Cruella two sidekicks; those two guys who accompanied her on their "infamous missions" were really somethin' else! Lol! The movie reminded me of Batman Returns when The Penguin is born. Do you remember that? Even though Estella was not disfigured, but only her hair was the oddest thing about her was - can you see the similarities there?
The beginning of the movie started off very close to that, but with the faces of the parents and the staff hidden, but of course it was revealed in the end. Stone really was a great story teller as she told the story of her life from her perspective from a young child to adulthood. Can you guess what drove her to pure insanity - to cause such mayhem? 
Do you think that it is just ONE thing in particular? Do you need to watch this prequel to find out my darlings??? Next, the costume design team really did such an amazing, amazing, amazing job with all of the wardrobe used in the film. 
Estella says something very pivotal and symbolic in the beginning of the film. Will YOU catch onto what it is and truly how symbolic it is and how it can relate to change and evolving - even in the world today?
It was flashy, classy, and dumpster truck trashy and you will understand that last one when you watch the movie! This was the best 2 hours and 14 minutes of my life on a Saturday night with my friends that I could ever ask for! So go...BE CRUEL!

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