Spoiler-Free Review of Disney’s ‘Cruella‘. Hello, cruel world! We are just days away from the premiere of Disney’s Cruella and I have the pleasure of presenting our spoiler-free review for the new, and twisted origin story of one of Disney’s most notorious villains, Cruella de Vil. The official synopsis of the film states:
“Disney’s “Cruella,” an all-new live-action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinemas most notorious – and notoriously fashionable – villains, the legendary Cruella de Vil. “Cruella,” which is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by Emma Thompson. But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella.“
Before we truly begin, I want to be very clear: If you expect Cruella to be a play-by-play of 101 Dalmatians, you will be sorely disappointed. The new film takes the creative liberty of establishing who Cruella is as her own woman, and though that does include Anita and Roger throughout the story, there is a clear distinction between these two tales and some glaring discrepancies. So we highly recommend going into your first viewing understanding that they are completely different stories and should be considered as such.
Disney’s Cruella is rated PG-13, and for good reason. As previously shared in our prior posts, Cruella is noticeably darker than most Disney films. So much so, even the movies leading lady, Emma Stone shared her surprise at how dark the story got, even for a villain’s origin story. Though this film features high fashion, adorable dogs, and plenty of well-timed humor, we DO NOT recommend watching Cruella with young viewers. There are several dark themes throughout the film, including peril, death, deception, mental illness, and traumatic depictions that are too mature for young viewers.
For appropriately aged viewers, we wanted to share some of the more positive aspects of the film. Cruella explores the origin of the iconic and fashionable Cruella de Vil. From her rebellious childhood to her rise in power, we learn how and why Cruella thinks it’s so good to be bad.
Emma Stone does a fantastic job as Cruella. Her performance is distinguishable from other talented actresses such as Glenn Close who previously filled the role for Disney. Emma’s commitment to the role is evident and her comedic background was the perfect balance to the dark and twisted tale. Stone’s portrayal of a young rebel with a cause was equally met in Emma Thompson’s performance as The Baroness.
Thompson’s Baroness von Hellman is a confident, overbearing, and conniving adversary. She is a force to be reckoned with and strikes fear into the hearts of men and women. This was one of the first films Emma Thompson has been featured as a villain, and she nailed it. Right down to the smallest details, the Baroness is the kind of character you love to hate. We would love to see her dive even deeper in another villainous role down the line.
Supporting cast members Joel Fry (Jasper) and Paul Russell Hauser (Horace) added much needed humor to the film, but were much more than just comedic support. On several occasions the boys, particularly Jasper, hold crucial conversations that help to drive the story and show that there is more to the friendship between them and Cruella.
The strong performances don’t stop with the main cast. Supporting actors and actresses such as Mark Strong (John the Valet), Emily Beechman (Catherine), John McCrea (Artie), Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Anita Darling), and Kayvan Novak (Roger) brought their own presence to their respective roles, with John McCrea portraying one of the first openly Queer characters in a live-action Disney film.
Related: New Cruella Makeup at Disney Springs
Despite Cruella being a darker story for Disney, we enjoyed the fact that the film didn’t need a “good” to play the lead role. The villain vs. villain dynamic was filled with thrilling twists and turns, making it captivating throughout the entire 2-hour movie. Cruella is well balanced with humor to add levity, and the performances throughout the film make the movie even more enjoyable. Not to mention the stunning wardrobes and sets.
If you are comfortable doing so, we highly recommend going to go see Cruella in theaters so you can thoroughly enjoy the thematic elements of the film, but for those who may not be ready to venture to movie theaters, Disney has announced that Cruella will also be available to stream via Disney+ Premier Access. Cruella will premiere this Friday, May 28, 2021. For ticketing and more information CLICK HERE or visit DisneyPlus.com to pre-order Cruella for Disney+ Premier Access.
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Featured Photo Credit: Disney