Back in 1961, Disney adapted the 1956 Novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians and in doing so, crafted a beloved animated classic and introduced the world at large to Cruella De Vil. The film has not only endured but has spawned television series, a direct to video sequel, merchandise, and two live-action versions.
Despite being delayed due to the Pandemic, Disney has scheduled the much-anticipated Cruella for release and I am happy to announce that the film is a Wickedly Delicious new entry into the series.
The story follows young Estella as she and her mom plan to start a new life in London in the 1960s. When tragedy strikes, the young girl finds herself on the streets and working a life of crime and grift with fellow street kids Jasper and Horace. Flash forward to the 1970’s and Estella (Emma Stone) toils away in a store cleaning while hoping for her shot in the world of fashion. When fate arrives and places Estella in the path of vain, self-centered, and vicious fashion magnate The Baroness (Emma Thompson), who hires Estella to begin her career in fashion.
The savage way The Baroness treats those around her intimidates Estella but her friends Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), see this as an opportunity to rob from The Baroness and this places them at odds with Estella as her designs start to gain traction.
When situations clarify and begin to evolve into a mission of revenge, Estella transforms into Cruella which had long been the name associated with the darker side of her personality. Cruella takes the fashion world by storm for her innovative looks, bold designs, and theatrical events which upstage the Baroness at major fashion events. With her sales and reputation in decline, The Baroness declares war on Cruella which sets a dark and sinister series of events into motion which drives the film into darker content then one may expect from a Disney film.
The cast is very strong as Stone and Thompson are amazing as they are both wicked and captivating without ever going to far over the top or extreme with their characters.
Mark Strong also does great work and elevated all the scenes in which he was in with his strong presence. While at first I wondered if we really needed to have this part of Cruella’s life told, the story is engaging and the cast is fantastic which makes this movie dark and delightful.
While elements of it may not be ideal for younger viewers, the story was captivating and the performances were amazingly engaging. The film ran about two hours and 10 minutes, and while it does suffer from pacing issues here and there, the film does regroup and brings the story home. By the way, there is a mid-credit scene that audiences will want to stay for. It was an unexpected and very charming nod to what is to come and is not to be missed.
It will be interesting to see if the film is the hit that I expect it to be if Disney will consider more films in the series as it would be amazing to see this cast return for further wickedly dark adventures.
Cruella releases today on Disney+.
4 stars out of 5
Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.