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Movie Review: Cruella (2021) *Spoiler Free*

Cruella One Sheet
I must admit, the main reason I wanted to see Cruella was I really liked the visuals of the the trailers. It definitely looked liked an interesting approach to a character that's never really been on my radar beyond the original, Disney, animated feature (which I'm not entirely sure I've ever seen but I did read the novelization as a child).

I have heard some reviewers criticise the director, Craig Gillespie, for not really doing anything interesting with the visuals in this film, and I can see there were definitely opportunities missed. I kind of feel in the hands of someone like Tim Burton, Cruella could've been far more visually stunning.

However, I still found it a very visually interesting film, largely thanks to some amazing costume and set  design, and I really liked the magazine typography combined with live action effects used through various montages.

I also appreciated the heavy use of popular music over a more cinematic score to help capture the mid 1970's period of the film. Something else I've seen some reviewers be critical of.

The film itself is a prequel to the familiar story seen in the 1961, Disney, animated feature, The 101 Dalmatians, focusing on that movie's villain, Cruella De Vil. It's essentially her origin story of how she became an extremely successful fashion icon.

Story wise I really didn't have any expectations going in. It's a character I barely have any interest in (until now), but, as I said, the trailers made it look interesting and, with Emma Stone in the title role, and Emma Thompson playing an equally fierce fashion icon (within the realms of this tale), there was every chance the film would be fun.

It didn't disappoint.

Cruella's backstory is much more interesting than I expected. Almost to the point where, young Cruella is the Cruella I'd rather see more of going forward. There's a good chunk of her teen years told though montages, as well as a big time jump early in the movie that's all ripe for some fun adventures that could be expanded upon in a future sequel.

That aside, Emma Stone is fantastic as Cruella, turning her into something of an edgy, punk rock, anti establishment, fashion anti hero. If Emma can maintain that edge as fully realized Cruella going forward this could be that start of a great franchise.

Emma Thompson is equally fantastic as the Baroness but, given she's something of a mentor to Cruella in this film, it feels a little like Thompson is playing what Cruella becomes later in life. Which is still a lot of fun to watch, but a little removed from the 'boots on the ground' character that Emma Stone's Cruella is for this film. I'm not sure I want to see Emma play that version of Cruella.

While you generally know this film is going to end with Cruella becoming the Cruella we're kind of familiar with, I do give it props for crafting a story that generally wasn't predictable in the detail. Again, I also give it props from making her early life/backstory far more interesting than I expected - I'm deliberately not saying much about it because it's fun to discover how she spent her early years as the film progresses.

Overall I enjoyed this film for the characters, the supporting cast is pretty great, including the various four legged variety (some of which I'm sure were CGI but done so well it was definitely hard to tell whether they were full CGI or augmented CGI over the live action performances).

I'd definitely love to see a sequel. I'm just not sure it would be as interesting with Cruella having established herself by the end of this film. Could she still keep her edge?


Cruella - The Future - Emma Stone


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