“A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.”

Director: Craig Gillespie
Writers: Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, Steve Zissis, Dodie Smith
Staring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Water Hauser, John McCrea
Streaming: Disney+
Release Date: May 28, 2021

Cruella (2021) strings together enough entertaining aspects to make this overly long unnecessary story worthy of watching. The majority of the positive moments are owed to the charisma of one-time Oscar Winner Emma Stone and two-time Oscar Winner costume designer Jenny Beaven.

By far the best sequences in Cruella come when she is upstaging The Baroness (Emma Thompson). Cruella waltzing around and creating rock concert-esq events to show off her rambunctious outfits is the reason to see this movie. The montage of vengeful vitriol is worth the price of admission.

Touching on parts of Cruella that are not worth your time, you can skip the first 20 minutes of the movie and all the parts that deal with the over convoluted backstory of Estella (the happier alter ego to Cruella). The audience is introduced to the titular character in her child where she has some horrific event shape her future and fate. The purpose of the exposition is to set up a twist later in the movie, that is to put it frank, very bad.

*Spoiler Alert*

Why was it necessary to make The Baroness the mother of Cruella? It was not necessary at all. It was an extra add on to create a talking point but it didn’t help elevate the motivations of Cruella. She was angry enough to find out that her boss and idol killed her mom, why make it a family matter? There was the motivation for the money perhaps, for her to generate all of the wealth, but Cruella “killed herself” in the end and therefore she doesn’t exist so that money doesn’t go anywhere. Why??

*End Of Spoilers*

Maybe at this point I should mention how I do not recall really anything from 101 Dalmatians (1996). There may be easter eggs hidden throughout, but I most likely did not catch up on any of them.

In terms of the performances, Stone is having a blast as Cruella and the movies best parts come when she is putting on an extra performance. The glare and the swagger works for her, as done any role because she is just a damn good actress. Thompson as Cruella is strictly fine. It is not her fault but I kept on looking back on Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Different types of movies completely, I understand that. I just couldn’t help it with the same fashion industry and the devil in the title.

Looking at the IMDB of the director Craig Gillespie, the flair for the over dramatic (in a good way) in terms of costume and acting is partially imbedded in his most critically acclaimed movie, I, Tonya (2017). Speaking of acclaim, costume designer Jenny Beavan will most likely earn her 11th Oscar Nomination. It’ll be her first since 2016, when she won for Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

Cruella already has a sequel green lit, and I am not entirely sure why? What more of a story is there to tell? It’ll be a tale of Cruella’s resurrection following her birth in this story. It is just interesting to see if an audience will be engaged with a follow-up.

STANKO RATING: B (3.0/5 Stars)


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