Is ‘Cruella’ another failed Disney live-action movie? Read the reviews
The film industry, like so many others, took a massive hit over the last year as theaters around the globe closed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, as restrictions continue to be lifted as summer approaches, movie houses are opening and summer blockbusters appear to be back.
Last week, Hollywood saw its first major red carpet event since the pandemic was announced in March 2020 with the premiere of Disney’s Cruella.
Disney films are guaranteed hits in the box office, but their non-monetary value is all over the map. Cruella is yet another reboot, but does the 101 Dalmatians prequel bring something special to the table, or simply fall in line with the franchise? Reviews for the film dropped this week, and critics had plenty of opinions about the gritty live-action villain origin story no one asked for. Here’s what they had to say.
The A.V. Club
The A.V. Club dropped their review yesterday, presenting a headline saying Cruella is “stylish and chaotic” just like the main character of the movie.
However, the review itself unpacks the many failings of the movie, saying there’s plenty to roll your eyes at, and the film (unsurprisingly) features “ludicrous self-mythologizing” of the titular character. We don’t doubt their POV here, as any millennial will tell you Cruella is the last “classic” Disney villain coming to mind when they think of their faves.
A.V. also references their own writer calling director Craig Gillespie’s style as “diet Scorsese,” which anyone who has seen Gillespie’s I, Tonya will tell you hits the nail on the head. Ultimately, A.V. says the live-action Disney movie is “plenty enjoyable” but “a slog in the storytelling department”.
Vox has our vote, in starting out its review saying “Disney’s Cruella is a completely unnecessary movie”.
Well, we can definitely agree with you there, Vox. The review goes on to equate the 101 Dalmatians prequel to Hollywood “reheating its leftovers and pretending they’re new”, but going on to say the reviewer “mostly had a blast” watching the film.
Vox goes on to describe quite well the aesthetic of Cruella, which so many other films of its kind fall into – marketed as gritty, but effectively “family-friendly steampunk”. Vox’s review of Cruella falls in line with A.V., picking the movie apart for most of the read, but eventually concluding the movie is fun to watch.
CNN’s entertainment division gave a more kind review of Cruella today, calling the film an “unexpected treat”. The review puts most of the praise for Cruella on the backs of Emma Stone & Emma Thompson, whose conflict ties the film together.
CNN harps on the film’s impressive soundtrack, which most reviews of Cruella mention, along with the movie’s fashion-forward aesthetic leading the film’s costumes to be one of its main talking points. The review is mostly favorable, but doesn’t tell us much about what Cruella brings to the table.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert may have passed on, but his website still holds some of the web’s most spirited reviews. RogerEbert.com’s review of Cruella says a little bit of everything the previous reviews do, calling director Craig Gillespie “discount Scorsese” and pointing out Cruella De Vil “didn’t need an origin story”.
The review calls the Cruella script “a mess” and recognizes a watered-down nature trying to present itself as edgy, as the aesthetically dark film doesn’t even show De Vil saying “an unkind word” about dalmatians, let alone proposing to turn them into fur coats. Nevertheless, the review calls Cruella “stylish and kinetic”, a characterization nearly every review has been forced to maintain.
The Cruella reviews dropping this week are about what we expected from yet another live-action Disney movie. Will you see Cruella this summer? Let us know in the comments below!