Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel - all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them. ~IMDB
Into the Woods is basically what the Grimm Brothers originally saw in their fairy tales. (They weren't called the Grimm Brothers for nothing, folks.) Every story is intertwined with the others. It's sort of like Once Upon a Time, but with way less stories (and it's not as confusing). Of course, the movie had to be Disney-fied a bit. In the original Broadway storyline, both of the princes turned out to be bad eggs. (I think that some Disney writers still haven't recovered from Tangled and want Rapunzel's prince to be a perfect, sacrificial, funny, handsome stud muffin and can't see little Punzie with anyone different.)
The visuals of this film were amazing! It didn't really have a "fairy tale" feel, which was very interesting. Every set was a bit spooky looking. In most scenes, the sets are in fact colorless and bland. It's actually good for the film, though. It shows how the people in the film see their lives. Everybody wishes for something besides what they already have, expecting it to be better. It's rather like The Wizard of Oz in that everything is in dull colors until everyone thinks they've gotten what they've always wanted.
Everyone (except possibly Johnny Depp, I'm sorry) fully lived up to the vocal qualities I expected of a Sondheim musical. There were people I knew could sing, such as Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and Daniel Huttlestone (Les Misérables), but Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt were both pleasant surprises. (According to the cast, Streep could outsing any of them! It was also nice to hear a good, strong alto have such a prominent role. Usually, sopranos get all the good stuff.) All of the songs were the same as the musical, but some were cut. This disappointed me. The movie would have been so much better if all of the songs from the original were kept.
This film was fabulous. I loved watching it (and yes, I sang along and annoyed everyone in the theater). It wasn't quite as good as the play, but it was still very good. I wish (haha) that they had gone Les Misérables-style and kept everything the same as the play (just with better props and graphics), but I've come to understand that this is Disney and they will rip anything to shreds to make it "just so." (Just watch their Narnia movies.) For another review of Into the Woods, check out this one by Fangirl Initiative writer Rica Wiersema.