‘Cruella’ Review

Everyone’s favorite dog-knapper gets an inventive and fresh makeover. In order to become Cruella, first you got to get a little cruel.

Disney's 'Cruella' gave its puppy-killing villain a catty history in the fashion biz and made it work

A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.
What causes someone to loath Dalmations so much? Well, watch the first ten minutes of Disney’s new live-action Cruella and you’ll totally understand. Emma Stone stars in the tale of the up-and-coming fashion designer/ master thief who is pseudo out for revenge all while trying to make it in the world.
A young Estella (Cruella) is different, she doesn’t belong in her school, she does things her own way and wants to become a successful fashion designer. When she’s introduced to a world she never knew possible, she sets her expectations on her life just a little bit higher. After a freak accident, she is left alone and makes her way to London where she meets up with Jasper (John Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser). Together they form a thieving empire, where they let their dogs (Wink and Buddy) do all the heavy lifting. As much as she enjoys the stealing, that’s more for her pals Jasper and Horace.
Even bad people have enemies and Cruella doesn’t know it quite yet, but The Baroness (Emma Thompson) is that person. She’s the most powerful person in London, and Estella’s creative side has caught her eye. This is where the movie gives off a little Devil Wears Prada vibe. From there two worlds will be colliding for what was an entertaining and unexpected fun movie. Disney has been turning out live-action adaptations for almost a decade now, each unique in their own way, but none of which have really blown audiences away. Besides The Jungle Book, I haven’t really been that impressed by any of the live-action films. Maybe it’s just Emma Stone elevating the material at play here, but Cruella just felt and looked different.
We all came for the main event, which is Emma Stone. She’s doing the Lord’s work here, even giving us a homage to Heath Ledger and his unforgettable dinner party scene. This is just a fabulous sequence, followed by a big reveal that officially turns Estella into Curella. This is her origin story, tip-toeing between the lines of good and evil. You can tell she’s having a ton of fun, and I don’t want to say she was born for this role, but it’s hard to imagine someone else playing a young Cruella so well.
Forming unlikely alliances with Artie, an owner of a vintage fashion store (John McCrea), and Anita, a gossip columnist (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). Together they all form Cruella’s entourage and they all have one goal, taking down The Baroness. Cruella and The Baroness have some Zoolander-like runway showdowns. With Cruella always gaining the upper hand, the chemistry and dynamic between Stone and Thompson were terrific. You can see all the inspiration at play throughout the movie, and I think that’s what makes this thing so enjoyable.
Mix in a terrific soundtrack, that really boosts certain scenes. The music is a character of its own. Cruella has both style and substance and it’s clearly what separates it from past live-action adaptations. The movie looks beautiful, with some stunning costumes and set pieces, the movie just looks beautiful.
Overall, it’s a win for Cruella. Perhaps a little long in the tooth, but I have no real complaints about the thing. Disney gets a solid win for this and I wonder if we will see more Emma as Cruella in the future. I mean they set up the next thing at the end, you know with those two famous dogs, Pongo Perdita.
Cruella = 77/100

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