Monday, June 7, 2021

Oh hey! It's Cruella...but no De Vil

                                         

This is the last straw. The straw that broke the camel's back.

If Disney, or any studio for that matter, makes another origin story about a supervillain and explains that they really aren't so bad, but society or an even more evil individual was responsible for their villainy and their just plain misunderstood, well I am going to skip them. I don't think "Hannibal Rising," or "Maleficent" or "Joker" and I am not such a fan of "Cruella." To put it in the simplest of terms, I find movies like this pointless, especially when "Cruella" and the other movies I listed take monstrous villains and explain them in the lamest of terms.

If you want more, I'll be happy to indulge. I think Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are having a ball in this movie, and that at least makes it watchable. If you think a hybrid of sorts involving "Joker" and "The Devil Wears Prada" sounds like fun to you, then you should see this. You may be the audience for it. It doesn't play as dark or daring as either of those films, because this is still Disney after all. But you may still have fun. The set design and the costume design is about as outstanding as it could get, and this movie could possibly get Oscar nods in both those categories next year. The supporting cast includes Mark Strong, Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser, all of whom do very well here. The movie has an awesome soundtrack, and the movie is great to just sit and listen to. 

I just wish this was all in service of a movie that wasn't pointless.

So here's the thing, Emma Stone's Cruella is actually Estella and she was raised by a single mother. Her mother knew from a young age how cunning her daughter was, but she loved her. One night, she goes to the house of a lady for help. Instead, the lady kills her mother and Estella is orphaned. She rises on the streets meeting two kind-hearted con men named Horace and Jasper (ho, ho!) and eventually gets into fashion. The lady that killed her mother is known as The Baroness (Thompson), who is a high profile fashion designer, and Estella who has been going by Cruella as a nickname as a girl, gets her revenge!

If you really want to call it that. In the original 1961 animated movies, and the live-action Glenn Close movies, Cruella DeVil was a dog napper. She killed dogs in order to make coats out of them. That's an awful, slimy person to say the very least. Here, she has dog side kicks, she apologizes for all of her bad behavior. Horace and Jasper agree to do Cruella's bidding because she is going after bad people. She's still very pro-dog by the end of the film. How does she get the nick name DeVil? Why are you wasting The Rolling Stone's best song on a character who doesn't transform into a villain by the end?

There is literally a mid-credit scene where Roger is writing the famous Cruella DeVil song from the animated classic. But in the context of this film, it makes no sense. Cruella commits some crimes here, but none of them really affect Roger. She apologizes for how she treats people and the movie makes us believe that even her shady at best actions are justified. Why have the song written in the first place? How can you expect me to believe this Cruella turns into a psychopathic dog-napper?

These villain origin movies we are getting aren't offensive. They aren't completely bad, and that what is making them even more frustrating. There is lots of good work and effort going into these movies. But the movies themselves are just pointless. I want to know why Cruella DeVil became the dog-hating, dog-killing coat maker from the other films. I don't care about Estella, I don't care about another girl on film getting wronged and them getting their revenge, always playing the revenge safe because this is Disney film. 

If you want to make a villain origin story, cool. But you got to make sure they are villains by the end of the film.

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