This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Marian64’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Welp I guess the 101 Dalmatians Live Actions movies are the only Live Action Disney remakes films with rights for me!
But seriously though, I was VERY pleasantly surprised. (Then again I Tonya Director and The Devil Wears Prada/The Favorite screenwriter...and yes thankfully it shows...quite a lot!)
There's nothing I hate more in Hollywood right now than Disney Live Actions remakes/ reboots/whatever...and I genuinely like this. Why?
Because if it wasn't for certain forced moments trying to connect the film with the OG Disney cartoon, this film is way more of a reimagining of Cruella as a character than it is a prequel/spin-off of 101 Dalmatians.
And in that regard it's good: Here she's first and foremost Estella, an orphan/super talented fashion lover who uses "Cruella" as a persona to fool her employer/nemesis The Baroness (a NEW!! EXCELLENT TRUE Disney Villain played by a deliciously pure evil Emma Thompson) and then progressively loses herself to this persona, in a quest for revenge...but it's also made clear that this is almost like a perfect "excuse" for her to go unhinged, because that's WHO SHE IS. Either way, she remains a super fun character to watch. (Also here she fakes killing Dalmatians/making a fur coat out of them... for clickbait and bc people need a villain to hate and to distract them from whatever is actually going on...Again cheeky reference I thought was funny :p)
True, her future self from the cartoon is only really acknowledged through the bond she forms with Jasper and Horace: She begins to treat them badly once she starts to have power and attention (and is called out about it) but I thought it was good enough, as a way of reinventing the character while still reminding us of why she's the villain we know and love to hate. (and all 3 of them along with her dog Buddy make for a great found family in the first place!)
The film is a camp/sexy/cheeky FREAKING PUNK ROCK (yes I know Disney can't be punk rock but I liked the vibe ok!) fashion heist show between two women trying to "out fashion" each other... for success... and also personal reasons. Yep, some of it is used as a plot point for a clumsily written tragic backstory but thankfully the Good easily outweighs the Not So Good: Amazing and creative costumes indeed, great performances (Emma Stone is truly great and really makes the character her own-different take but just as good as Close' version imo!)) and actual good dialogue most of the time!
While the 60's-70's needle drops are fun, there's A LOT and I wish we had more of the orignal score which is also super good. (And yes "Smile" is included but that's the only "true" similarity with Joker imho)
Except for some bad looking CGI on the Baroness' Dalmatians, the film looks like a real film and is gorgeous to look at unlike the other recent Disney Live Action remakes!
And now for my ramblings as a shameless Disney Nerd:
Buddy and Wink are adorable MVP's!
Live Actions Jaspers are quite ...sexy? MUCH TO THINK ABOUT
Estella watching Hitchcock's Lifeboat, the movie with Tallulah Bankhead, whose mannerisms inspired the OG Cruella? Easter egg done right!!
Also The Artist/Painter woman and her lookalike dog Pongo spots in the OG Prologue in a quick and you miss it scene!
Horace watching the telly with the stolen Dalmatians!
Artie is a nice addition as an original character and I wish we got more of him!
Florence Welsh's little reprise-reimagining of the Iconic Cruella De Vil song slaps!
Roger and Anita are mostly here for fan service but I was ok with it :p
So yeah Live action Disney movies still need to stop EXCEPT when it comes to making fun sexy villain rights movies!! Edit: Yep 4 stars it is, just too much fun