If you have been watching the live-action Disney remakes, you know it’s been a while since one worked well. For my money, ever since Cinderella (2015, my review here) and The Jungle Book (2016) came out, we’ve gotten average and below the average films. That was the main reason I had minimal hopes for Cruella, even though I adore Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Because here’s the thing – there was never any shortage of great actors in Disney films, but that didn’t always translate into a better movie. But it did translate it here.
Cruella feels like a punk-rock, rebellious film. Well, as much as it can be those things while still being under the Disney umbrella. I think, if we put aside the acting (which I will praise soon), that is why I enjoyed this film more than I expected – it had a great “vibe”. It felt way different from anything Disney produced up until this moment. It also didn’t lean into the whole “we need to wink at the audience as much as possible because prequel” too heavily; it mainly did its thing. And that thing was – let Emma Stone be a bad-ass.
Yes, Cruella is a one-woman show for Emma Stone. We have known she was a talented actress for a while now, but yet again, she reminds us that she can do little to no wrong. She could have easily done it for the paycheck; she could have phoned it in, but no. She went there, and because of her, I was on board from the first moment. Part of that was it wasn’t the typical “from clumsy idiot to superstar” journey. The movie shows you that even before she gets the job working for Emma Thompson’s character, she isn’t some shy, clumsy person with a bit of talent. You know how that usually is the cliche, so the person we should care about has the “glow-up” afterwards. Instead of that, we see Cruella as this kid who was always getting into problems. But because of her talent, her individuality rather than clumsiness. I liked the fact that they have done something to establish her character from early on. And once she grows up and “becomes” Emma Stone, that’s a winning combination. She’s the perfect combination of talent, sass and attitude you would imagine Cruella to be.
But no “villain” is great on their own, and here, we have Emma Thompson. At first, her employer, who sees something in this young girl, then becomes her rival in the fashion world. That was the part of the film I liked the most – seeing all those designs, how Emma Stone is the new “it girl” on the scene, and Emma Thompson’s character goes through a believable change from “I am not worried about her” to “We need to get on top of the “Cruella” situation”. Their rivalry and scenes of two Emma’s were 100% highlight of this film.
My only real issue with this film was its length. The run time of 134 minutes was definitely “a bit” too long, and the movie could be trimmed by at least 20 minutes. Especially towards the end, when Emma Thompson’s character figures out who Cruella is, the movie seems to come to a halt, and until the last confrontation of the two Emma’s, the film slows down massively. As much as I appreciate the slightly darker and realistic take on this iconic villain, “more realistic” shouldn’t always mean “this movie needs to be over two hours long because it is cinema!”
But other than that, I can’t say anything bad about Cruella. Maybe it was the expectations I came to the movie with. Perhaps it was the simple fact the people behind this film tried something new(ish) and didn’t rely too much on the existing material and made it their own. But one thing is for sure – both Emmas lifted this movie where it belongs. Especially “the main” Emma carries the film on her shoulders, and she does it with such ease, you feel safe. Some actors can be in a bad movie and still make you feel secure about what you are watching and she 100% is one of the finest ones.
Overall, Cruella is by far the best live-action film based on the original Disney property we’ve had ever since 2016. That doesn’t mean the film has no flaws. But except for the longer than necessary runtime, I couldn’t find any because I was enjoying the feel of this film too much. The fashion the soundtrack, and to top it all off, Emma Stone. She commands this film so well that even if you watch this movie and won’t like it as much as I have, it is still worth seeing for her performance alone. If you haven’t seen it because you are like me, “slightly” fed up with these live-action remakes that are usually (below) average, try to watch Cruella. And just like me, you might be pleasantly surprised.
That’s all for this one! Did you see it? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,