MOVIE REVIEW: We paws for thought to analyse Disney's 'Cruella'

After the bang average ‘Maleficent‘ movies I wasn’t in a hurry to see another Disney villainess get the origin story treatment.

But the infectiously delightful and anarchic ‘Cruella‘ – set during London’s 70s punk era – is a really pleasant surprise.

‘I, Tonya’s‘ Craig Gillespie was a perfect choice to direct and his latest flick is bristling with energy; his hyperactive camera work spins, pans and swoops throughout, newspaper headlines leap off the screen, and the predominately black and white palette gets perfectly punctuated with colour.

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The latter is helped no end by lavish costumes – each one looking like it cost a fortune – and the musical drops hit all the right notes.

Emma Stone nails the titular anti-heroine. Her accent works, her expressive eyes are a character of their own and she has a ball playing two sides of a split personality that aren’t far removed from each other.

Tipper Seifert-Cleveland is great as the younger Cruella too, Emma Thompson’s nasty Baroness makes Meryl Streep’s ‘Devil Wears Prada‘ fashionista seem like a pussycat and Joel Fry (Jasper ) and Paul Walter Hauser’s (Horace) sidekicks are a lot of fun.

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The movie’s lively spirit is best summed up by a breathless bungled ball heist and an unruly impromptu fashion show in Regent’s Park with a cover of The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘ soaring on the soundtrack.

Cruella is given a good reason to hate Dalmatians and there are a few effective plot twists that keep the story ticking along.

Truthfully, the film could be snappier. Cutting one or two montages, or – as entertaining as they are – a couple of the tête-à-têtes between Stone and Thompson would’ve made for a tighter edit, suiting the fervent feel created by Gillespie.

But, as Cruella herself expertly puts it, “people need a villain to believe in,” and comfortably sitting a few notches above ‘Maleficent‘ and its sequel, this is a live-action Disney origin tale worthy of the studio’s iconic name.

What are your thoughts on ‘Cruella?’ Does it take the lead over the character’s previous movie incarnations?

Pop me an email at ian.bunting@reachplc.com and I will pass on your comments – and any movie or TV show recommendations you have – to your fellow readers.

‘Cruella’ is available on Sky Store, and screening in cinemas, now.

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