‘I’m just getting started, darling...’
Up until now I have completely ignored all the live action remakes of Disney’s animated classics. I’ve just got no desire at all to see The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast with real human actors. Cruella is different, however. Serving as a prequel and origin story rather than straight retelling, Craig Gillespie’s film fleshes out one of Disney’s more flamboyant villains and allows Emma Stone the opportunity to have an absolute blast resulting in one of her most memorable performances to date. It’s still too long mind…
This is a Disney film, so obviously the protagonist watches her mother die after being pushed off a balcony by a pack of terrifying Dalmatians within the first 20 minutes. From there, every element of 101 Dalmatians is explained and accounted for. Cruella (Stone) meets her two sidekicks Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry), and then develops a rivalry with a famous fashion designer known only as the Baroness (Emma Thompson). A starry cast is rounded off by Mark Strong, Kayvan Novak and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.
The first thing to be addressed is that there is a little too much world building going on here. Yes, you want the character to feel three dimensional and lived in, but two hours and 14 minutes is simply too long to be watching a film about a fairly inconsequential Disney character. That being said, Stone is an utter joy throughout in a performance that is as ostentatious as it is compelling. Thompson matches her every step of the way as you can imagine and the many scenes that the two characters share are probably the finest moments in the whole movie. There is also some great dog action and plenty of imaginative visual set pieces that ensure that Cruella is never dull despite its too long running time.
It was the reviews and Emma Stone that attracted me to Cruella, and while it’s no masterpiece, it is certainly one of the more meaningful films to come out of the Disney roster in recent years. And it has some great dogs in it. Woof.