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‘Cruella’ Takes Us To Fashion Paradise But Fails To Deliver An Iconic Villain

Spoiler alert! Disney’s ‘Cruella’ proves Disney is getting better at these villain origin stories but they’re not quite there yet.

One of the most anticipated Disney Live Actions has finally hit the screens of movie theaters and homes all over the world through Disney+ Access Premier. Cruella was finally released last Friday and opinions couldn’t be more polarized. 

On the one hand there are those who absolutely adored this fashion queen portrayed by the great Emma Stone and the rivalry with the also amazing Emma Thompson. On the other hand, it seemed that there was something missing from the essence of the villainous Cruella that made honor to the lyrics “if she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will”.

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Let’s start by saying that this formula in which villains are humanized, might give them a new perspective, but end up draining their true essence. We saw it with Maleficent in which her evil was born out of betrayal and somehow despite the amazing characterization work made in Angelina Jolie and her performance, it ends up taking away Maleficent’s real and fabulous evilness. The same happens with Cruella.

Despite the many efforts the movie makes to balance the humanization of the character with the fact that she’s wicked, at the end of the day we’re talking about a woman who wants to murder 99 puppies! Even when they suggest that she’s toying with the idea of her evil plan in the future, we don’t quite see that evilness.

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In regard to the fashion and the visuals of the movie, they’re absolutely amazing; there’s no arguing with that…almost. By the end it seems the production had already spent all their budget and the climatic scene of the film looks strange as if the CGI wasn’t done properly looking a bit off. But to be honest, all the fashion moments and costumes make you forget about those small deets.

When it comes to the soundtrack of the film, we can say it’s really something. With hit songs from the seventies, we can see Estella becoming Cruella to an amazing soundtrack that feels even empowering and badass. However, despite the great music and visuals, at the end of the day the story is the most important thing about a film and with Cruella that’s probably its biggest flaw.

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The movie takes us back to Cruella’s childhood, the tragedy of losing her mother and how she ended up growing up as a good-hearted thief along with her two best friends/adopted siblings Horace and Jasper. Which let me tell you even though they try to explain how their relationship ended up being a hierarchy of power, by the end it’s still unconvincing the way Cruella treats these two in 101 Dalmatians. Beyond that, in the animated film, and even the 1996 live action, their relationship is established as a working one, so in Cruella it just seems really forced.

The movie gives some nods to the animated film which, as a Disney fan, were actually satisfying. We get to see a bit of Roger and Anita before they became a couple, the lovely lady with the Afghan Hound, and a post-credit scene where we listen to the iconic "Cruella de Vil" song and get to see how Roger and Anita got Pongo and Perdita in a scene that also seems a bit pushed I mean we know that the couple met at the park in a very romantic and funny scene and here they casually both worked at some point with Cruella? I don’t know…

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All in all, we could say that Disney is getting better at these villain origin stories but they’re not quite there yet. Cruella seemed to be a really great opportunity to push the limits of the formula but ended up settling on the same and only suggesting the villainous side of the character with the character’s voice over. Still, this mixture between The Devil Wears Prada and Joker can be somehow entertaining but not the great movie we were expecting.

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