A rather tamed effort to bring some depth to the iconic Disney villain - 4/10

by Movies-Graded

Disney’s latest effort to revive a beloved animated property in live-action form adopts the “Maleficent” path in that it focuses on the origin story of a single character rather than being a bland copy of its drawn counterpart. In both cases, a famous antagonist was chosen as the subject of their study with Emma Stone being cast to play a younger version of the Cruella de Vil we all know and hate, following in the footsteps of Glenn Close who embodied the role in the 1996 live-action retelling of “101 Dalmatians” and the sequel that followed.
Helmed by Craig Gillespie, whose most famous feature to date is the Margot Robbie-led biopic “I, Tonya”, “Cruella” fails to develop the renowned fashion icon in an innovative way. Betrayed by a predictable arc and an over-the-top, almost insulting depiction of mental illness, the character’s journey is one that is part cringe-worthy, part boring. A journey that ultimately led to an ending that left me in awe due to its ridiculous, eye-rolling nature. In between, the glamorous costume design and few exciting editing tricks that involved newspaper headlines were not enough to cover up the obnoxious music choices, weak script, or offensive portrayal of what the studio proudly presented as being the first openly gay character to be featured in one of their films (nope, the fourth time wasn’t a charm). Emma Stone was okay in the lead, while Emma Thompson’s performance was entertaining for about half an hour until it got repetitive.
You can tell that Gillespie at the very least attempts to give “Cruella” an original voice that will make it stand out in a sea of unoriginal projects dumped by the Mouse in recent years, but that voice is unfortunately muffled by a pillow of conventional clichés and embarrassing reveals. Yet another below-average live-action remake/retelling to add to an ever-growing list of money-making mediocrity.

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