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Disney’s Cruella – Review

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Cruella Emma Stone image
Walt Disney Studios

I went into Cruella with one question: “what led Cruella De Vil to want to skin puppies for a fur coat?” And while I left the theatre happy… and with the strong urge to buy a new wardrobe, that question was never answered. While I thoroughly enjoyed the new Disney remake, I have to admit that the film is better when divorced from the source material. Here’s what Cruella from Disney did right, and where the spots were in our review.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this we assume you’ve seen the show but there are major spoilers coming up. You have been warned.

Summary

The film serves as an origin story to one of Disney’s most infamous villains; Cruella De Vil from the 1961 film 101 Dalmatians. The original film follows two newlywed couples; Anita and Roger, and their Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita. After the two dogs have puppies, Cruella De Vil tries to kidnap them to make a fur coat. Cruella had actually kidnapped 101 Dalmatian puppies in total, and the two dogs rescue the canines. Roger and Anita end up adopting all 101 Dalmatians.

Cruella chronicles the villain’s childhood and rise in the fashion industry set in 1960s London. Played by Emma Stone, Cruella, whose given name is Estella, definitely had an “extreme” streak growing up. This leads her to be expelled from school, causing her and her mother to move to London. On the way there, her mother asks an “old friend” for help. This friend being her old employer The Baroness played by Emma Thompson. But The Baroness sends her Dalmatians on Estella’s mother, pushing her off a cliff and killing her. Estella thinks it was her fault but, as the dilations were chasing her after she accidentally crashed the Baroness’ fashion show. She runs away and ends up joining a little gang of thieves, composed of Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Houser). Both of whom are her henchmen in the original film.

After getting a job at a department store and catching the attention of The Baroness, Estella begins her career in fashion. The Baroness senses her talent, and Estella becomes one of her lead designers for The Baroness’ upcoming line. But when she learns that The Baroness killed her mother, she begins plotting her revenge, embracing her cruel alter-ego Cruella. Eventually, she discovered that The Baroness is her biological mother and a serial murderer. Estella decides to fully embrace Cruella, vowing to be an even better version of her psychotic biological mother. She fakes Estella’s death and reveals The Baroness’ murderous tendencies to the public, taking over her estate.

A perfect Cruella

Emma Stone was a perfect Cruella. As Estella, she was charming and awkward. As Cruella, she embraced an over-the-top cadence and flamboyance. She gives a surprisingly heartfelt performance and makes you root for the character even when she is acting, well, cruelly. Stone made a dramatic character feel believable in the real world and seemed to be having a blast playing her. On top of Stone’s performance were the costumes. Every single outfit Estella or Cruella wore was amazing. From the subtle yet unique every-day wear of Estella to the dramatic gowns and coats of Cruella. The costumes made the character feel set apart from the world and also believable as a talented fashion designer.

…But a soft one

My only complaint with Cruella in the film was that she wasn’t mean enough. While her plans for revenge were clever and unique, they didn’t feel like they were truly followed through with. Sewing a dress with moth cocoons to eat at The Baroness’ collection was fun and unpredictable. The heist to retrieve her necklace was entertaining. But when Cruella showed up in a Dalmatian print coat, taunting the Baroness with the fear that she had skinned her dogs… I wanted her to have actually done it. Instead, she just pretended to have killed her dogs. The Cruella from 101 Dalmatians absolutely would have skinned those dogs. I don’t need Cruella De Vil to have redeeming qualities. And I don’t expect her to take the higher road.

Skinning the dogs felt like the reveal the film was leading up to. Having her just pretend to have killed them made Cruella feel like a part Estella was playing and not who she was becoming. They actually had her bond with the dogs instead, when it felt like they should have been making Cruella hate Dalmatians given her later actions. Later in the film, she apologizes to Jasper and Horace for treating them poorly, when she treats them even worse in 101 Dalmatians. She also doesn’t kill the Baroness. Instead, Cruella takes the high ground again, simply sending her to prison. Once more, Cruella De Vil does not need to be redeemable, or even an anti-hero.

Post-credit

I wanted to see her descent into madness. Into one of Disney’s most unredeemable villains; a woman who wants to turn puppies into a coat! Furthermore, in a post-credit scene, it’s revealed that Cruella was the one who gifted Pongo and Perdita to Roger and Anita. While it’s a cute callback to 101 Dalmatians, it makes absolutely no sense for Cruella to later try to skin Pongo and Perdita’s puppy. Or even to kidnap Roger and Anita’s dogs, with who she is in good standing with at the end of this movie.

Throughout the film, Anita and Cruella were seen as childhood friends and later amicable co-workers. Anita even roots for Cruella. The actions of Cruella in 101 Dalmatians don’t feel like something this version of her would do. I don’t even think they truly set her up to be a villain. More like a ruthless fashion designer. She was mean, but she wasn’t evil. Certainly not a Cruel Devil.

Final thoughts

In spite of Cruella feeling weaker than she was in the source material, the film was still lots of fun! It might be one of the best Disney remakes. Stone’s performance was nothing if not delightful, and everyone in the film seemed to be enjoying themselves. Cruella felt new and nostalgic, showcasing a plot that was engaging with touching emotional beats. It’s definitely worth a watch, and a re-watch. But it didn’t feel connected to the Cruella De Vil we were first introduced to in 1961.


What did you think of Cruella from Disney, did you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out our review of Pixars Soul HERE.

Read IMDb information on Cruella HERE.

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Movie News

Hogwarts Houses For MCU Characters

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MCU Harry Potter houses image
Marvel Studios & Warner Bros.

Since its conception, Hogwarts houses have been a deciding factor in getting to know people. How someone answers “what Hogwarts house are you in?” can tell you a lot about a person. But where do some of our favourite MCU characters shape up when faced with the sorting hat?

Tony Stark/Iron Man- Ravenclaw

While Tony could be argued for almost any of the houses, Ravenclaw suits him best. Most of his development comes from the pursuit of knowledge. Aside from being one of the smartest characters in the MCU, he is constantly learning and improving upon his technology. He tends to approach large problems from a strategic and pragmatic standpoint, especially in his later films. Admittedly he can be brave and somewhat self-servingly ambitious. But who he is at the end of his arc and the way that he solves problems points to Iron Man being in Ravenclaw.

Steve Rogers/Captain America- Gryffindor

Is it even a question? Steve Rogers is definitely a Gryffindor. From day one, he has always strived to do what’s right. And he subtly wants a bit of glory for it too. He’s a natural leader and has always rushed into danger without a thought. He is undoubtedly driven by bravery and righteousness and is through and through a Gryffindor.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow- Hufflepuff

Natasha is tricky. She could truthfully swing in any direction. It may seem strange to put a spy in Hufflepuff, but if nothing else, Natasha is loyal. She cares deeply for those close to her and has shown that she’s willing to die for them. Her characterization throughout the MCU has been lacking, but her solo film has shown her to be fiercely loyal.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk- Ravenclaw

Another Ravenclaw. Similar to Tony, Bruce is very intelligent. While he seems to be less inclined to want to fight battles than Tony is, he is constantly learning. His relationship with the Hulk can even be characterized this way. By a desire to learn how to control him, then to understand him, then to become him. His arc is one that is driven by knowledge.

Thor- Gryffindor

Thor is always looking to prove himself. Even though he can lift the hammer, he is constantly looking for validation that he is worthy. He’s not usually afraid of much, and when he is, he faces it anyway. What makes Thor a Gryffindor though is his desire to be the hero. He’s not in Slytherin because he doesn’t desire to rule. He’s not ambitious, he just wants validation.

Peter Parker/Spiderman- Gryffindor

Peter is another hard one. He’s intelligent like Bruce and Tony, which could throw him into Ravenclaw. He’s loyal to his friends, which could put him into Hufflepuff. But at his core, Peter is in Gryffindor. The proof is in one of his first lines in the MCU. In Civil War, he tells Tony, “if you can do the things I do, and you don’t, then bad things happen because of you. (paraphrased)” He feels that because he’s special, he has to act. And unlike Steve and Thor, Peter is almost always afraid. He faces his challenges in spite of that. And while he wants to have a normal life, and a typical High School experience, he selflessly puts himself on the line. Once again, Peter is not looking for recognition, he’s just trying to do the right thing.

Dr Strange- Ravenclaw

Lots of Ravenclaws in the MCU. For Dr Strange, there really isn’t any other option. He is completely driven by the pursuit of knowledge. And while recognition came with that, we see with his journey into the mystic arts that his true motivation comes from learning. He’s a very similar character to Tony Stark, and both of them are textbook Ravenclaws.

Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch- Hufflepuff

Like Natasha, Wanda is driven by her relationships. She is faithfully loyal to her brother, then Vision, then her family. She is definitely motivated to protect and care for those she loves. Including creating an entire alternate reality to be with them! Wanda is brave and intelligent, but at her core, she is loyal.

Loki- Slytherin

Finally, a Slytherin. Once again, was there any other option? Loki is characterized by his cunning and ambition. He wants to rule. And he doesn’t get there by rushing into battle. He gets there by being sneaky and clever. Loki is a Slytherin through and through.

Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel- Slytherin

This may not feel like the obvious choice for Carol, but she definitely portrays characteristics of a Slytherin. She’s the best, and she wants people to know it. She’s confident and clever, and she likes attention. We don’t know her very well yet, but from what we’ve seen, she seems to relish in the attention her efforts provide. She is good, helpful, and ambitious.

T’Challa/Black Panther- Hufflepuff

T’Challa is also driven by loyalty. But while he is protective of those he loves, his true loyalty is to Wakanda. He’s not king because of ambition, he’s king out of duty. Everything he does is through the lens of “what is best for Wakanda?” While it’s a bit unconventional, his loyalty to Wakanda characterizes him as a Hufflepuff.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man- Gryffindor

At first, it appears that Scott would be in Hufflepuff. After all, he is very motivated by his relationship with his daughter. But if he were truly 100% driven by that, he would have made different choices. He would not have betrayed Hope and Hank and teamed up with Captain America without their permission. He also would not have stolen from his company and landed in jail in the first place. But both of those above decisions do characterize him as a Gryffindor. He wants to be in the action, and he doesn’t always consider the consequences. Scott isn’t really looking for recognition and is not that ambitious, but he does want to be involved in the big events. He wants to help people, and he bravely faces battles. Sometimes without discretion.


Do you agree with our picks for these MCU characters in Hogwarts Houses? If not or if we’ve missed any out, leave us a comment below.


Check out our review of Black Widow HERE.

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