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movie reviews
Cruella (Disney+)

Cruella (Disney+)

The iconic villain is back, in a standalone tale that sees Emma Stone sporting the iconic black and white colours.

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Estella's childhood was not the best when we first met the child affected by the accident; not only is she born with black and white hair and bullied for it, she also loses her mother figure at an early age and is forced to live as a thief with two orphaned boys. But, when she gets the chance to work for a world-famous fashion icon in adulthood, she also sees the chance to develop her inner Cruella to change the fashion world - and take revenge on the man who has caused her so much pain over the years.


The question "Did we really need this story?" is thus often of a rhetorical kind when Disney milks its classics, which also applied to Cruella. Did we really need a new character portrait for this classic movie? 20 minutes into the movie, I wasn't quite sure. Even when Disney released the trailer, it felt like it was unprofitable to change the character from the ground up and what we see from the antagonist's childhood did not immediately ease my worries.

In the film, Estella has always had reason to bring out her dark side in true Mr. Hyde-style, when the viewer from the beginning indulges in a forced sob story about how misunderstood (and absolutely brilliant) the little rebel is. As I said, it is not entirely convincing in its presentation, but once we leave the childhood days and the slightly lousy child actors, the film suddenly gets way better.

As the 70's progress, Emma Stone completely takes over the film with both energy and charisma, where one easily falls for the loving dynamic between her and the thief duo Horace and Jasper - the villains that Cruella hired in the cartoon. Stone steals the show, as she should, when wigs are replaced and dazzling costumes take over the screen on the assembly line. It is noticeable here that director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) has had a lot of fun with the material, where 70's England pops up in an explosion of rebellious colours and the wild rides between the slums and the high society are plentiful and entertaining.

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Cruella (Disney+)

However, the film only kicks off when Estella embraces her dark side. Cruella works best when she is cruel, ruthless and obsessed, but she's not really that puppy-killing evil here - here we get more of a vengeful genius who is still aware of how she potentially hurts her loved ones. In this respect, Cruella feels like Devil Wears Prada on steroids, but at the same time much weaker in terms of the film's emotional drive.

Because if there is one thing the film suffers from, it is that the last act is really idling. The story is far too long for its own good. The plot twists really only confirm what the viewer already knew and the amount of dramatic entrances also gets a bit annoying when the story is told at the end. In addition, the film has a tendency to just cross out potentially emotional moments by rushing to the next scene. It will mostly be a cavalcade of dramatic entrances, where Cruella's crusade against her competitor can be tiring.

Cruella was compared very early on to the Joker and Harley Quinn, which is aesthetically not entirely wrong. The audio-visual qualities carries a lot of the film but unfortunately the crime comedy is lowered by her exaggerated characters who seem more unreal than her cartoon self. The Heist parts lack finesse and the obligatory explanations, such as the origin of the Cruella De Vil name (even though the film itself does not feel like a direct prequel) are a bit forced. In other words, Cruella is a crackling catwalk even though Stone is marvellous in the lead.

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Cruella (Disney+)Cruella (Disney+)
05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
overall score
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Cruella (Disney+)

Cruella (Disney+)

MOVIE REVIEW. Written by André Lamartine

The iconic villain is back, in a standalone tale that sees Emma Stone sporting the iconic black and white colours.

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