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Cruella Review: A Night of Fabulousness and Mayhem

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Have you ever wondered how Cruella De Vil, the fiend, from Disney’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ became her wicked, evil self? You have? Well look no further, the highly anticipated live action Cruella has hit the cinemas with a bang!

A Villain to Believe in

Cruella is a sinisterly superb triumph. The film is well crafted with phenomenal acting and somehow manages to make a hero out of a criminal. Disney started this trend of re-examining villains with the likes of Maleficent in 2014. However, Angelina Jolie’s evil character didn’t come across as relatable or aspirational for young audiences. As many young fans want to be someone who overcomes their problems, rather than be the one to create them.

Just like many villains before her, Cruella is portrayed as misunderstood, a product of trying to survive in a cold, unsympathetic world. She overcomes Oliver Twist-like adversity to find herself in a Great Expectations-like relationship with her boss, Baroness von Hellman. When the past she’s worked so hard to put behind her comes back with a (literal) vengeance. Cruella realizes that Estella isn’t enough. Meaning, she becomes awful, as in awfully glamorous and rebellious. Deliciously played by Emma Stone, Cruella seeks her revenge with such smashing style that it’s easy to think that it might encourage some to embrace their own mischievous side. 

Much to Avenge, Revenge and Destroy

Embracing your mischievous side is encouraged by the fact that the movie is just so great, in every way. The art direction feels lifted straight from a Vogue shoot, and the fashion is fabulous. Just as punk rock was taking over Carnaby Street in London during the ’70s, Cruella stands up to wreck entrenched sensibilities of stuffy haute design through bold, glam, rock-inspired creations, delivered with defiant disruption. The movie’s robust soundtrack is loaded with iconic music from the 1970s; it feels exciting every time a note starts to play. The script is divine, and the actors seem to delight in their characters. Paul Walter Hauser’s take on henchman Horace is both authentic to the original animated depiction and a brilliant improvement.

Some moments from the 1961 animated classic are revisited like Cruella driving recklessly with Jasper and Horace in her grand Panther De Ville. Then we have the scene where we end up questioning if dogs do actually look like their owners. Then I think we all wondered how the Dalmatians were going to be turned into coats, but the repugnant concept was dealt with in a satisfying way. There’s no question that it’s much harder to tell a dark story about a hero turned bad, but the magnificent craftsmanship shown by director Craig Gillespie proves it can be done. Darling, let the black-and-white hair trend commence!

So What Now… Cruella has a few ideas

Who do you think is next on Disney’s list of villains? Could it be the Evil Queen from Snow White? Could it be Captain James Hook from Peter Pan? Or could it be Ursula from The Little Mermaid? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see their stories come to life? It’s exciting to wonder what Disney will come up with next and let’s be honest we are always going to be right there watching. Which of course, is exactly where we are meant to be, at the edge of our seats!

Also, don’t miss the mid-credit scene! It’s cute, it’s insightful and it sets up amazingly for the untitled Cruella 2. The second movie has been announced but the date is yet to be decided!

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