Cruella Review: Disney’s Latest Adaptation is a Devilish Delight!
Updated: Sep 21
The world of Disney has featured an array of standout characters with the likes of princesses becoming staples for the brand. Yet despite being the happiest place on Earth, Disney has also housed some of the most notorious villains to grace the silver screen. From Maleficent to Scar, Disney villains tend to be a highlight for their respected movies as they steal the show in their every time they are on screen. One such villain comes from 101 Dalmatians, and if this villainess did not scare you then perhaps no evil thing will. For years Cruella has left a trail of infamy in the house of mouse, and she has certainly earned her place among Disney’s greatest rogues. Now with the studio bringing their animated classic into live action, it was not shocking 101 Dalmatians would be among the new adaptations. Yet rather than just retelling the original story, this rendition would tell the tale of how a fashion designer became the queen of mean; and this dastardly movie would simply be known as Cruella.
Directed by Craig Gillespie, the movie tells the story of how Estella (Emma Stone), an aspiring fashion designer and small-time thief, plans to rob a Baroness (Emma Thompson); but a turn of events leads Stella to embrace her darker side and become the notorious Cruella. Along with being a prequel the new film also serves as a reboot since the series has been depicted in live action on two separate occasions. The movie hit theaters this past May and received an abundance of praise to the point where it made me curious to see the Disney film for myself. While it took some time, I finally saw this new adaptation and much to my surprise Cruella was indeed a devilish delight.
With Cruella taking center stage, it was interesting to see how this origin would play out. The result was a fashionable tale full of schemes and entertainment. While some points felt abrupt and the pacing could drag in places, particularly in the second act, the devil was in the details in this plot. The plot featured a character driven nature with direction such as Cruella’s narration giving the plot a personal touch. Along with this direction the story also featured a heist element that was not only fun to watch but it lived up to the tropes seen in the various crime films. Along with twists that were surprisingly effective, this villainous tale had to right amount of intrigue and entertainment to live up to both the series and the title character’s reputation.
As a character Cruella was an admirable lead whose eccentric demeanor was matched by her keen charisma. While Stella’s progression into Cruella could be inconsistent in places, the character was still effective with her motives giving the villainess more depth than I could have expected. As performances go, Emma Stone shined in the role as her sense of charisma gave the deranged designer a lively personality. Along with a stellar lead was an array of supporting players that were equally as impressive. Jasper and Horace (Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser) were particularly good with their comedic antics stealing the show, and their chemistry with Cruella creating a captivating dynamic between the trio. Other characters such as Roger (Kayvan Novak), Anita (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and John (Mark Strong) were fine additions, but their time on screen was limited. Last and certainly not least was Emma Thompson as Baroness von Hellman. The baroness was the perfect foil to Cruella and the Thompson was a delight as she relished in her infamous role; and her eccentric performance was enough to round out this stellar cast of characters.
Cruella was stylish in both look and tone. The use of 70’s London was effective to the point where the setting felt like it was a character of its very own. Aiding the vibrant location was none other than the cinematography. The colors for the movies felt appropriate for the time period while the use of transitions and effects were creative albeit inconsistent in their delivery. Although the effects themselves could be jarring as the use of cg animals clashed with the movie’s general look. When it came to music the soundtrack was an effective element to say the least. The songs used were perfect in capturing the right tone while the score by Nicholas Birtell was a fair companion in capturing the outlandish atmosphere to Cruella.
Cruella is an impressive adaptation. While some points could have been stronger in execution, the movie made up for it with its stellar cast, impeccable style and overall entertainment. While Disney’s live action movies are a dime a dozen, Cruella shows that the concept still has some life to it by bringing a new spin to a classic story; and for that reason, Cruella is among one of the better live action adaptations from Disney-not mention a fashionable film for the summer.