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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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9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies

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Wayne's World image
Paramount Pictures

There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.

1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)

Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.

2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.

3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)

You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.

4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.

5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)

Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.

6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)

I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.

7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)

This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.

8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)

We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.

9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)

Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.


That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.

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