Cruella de Vil of “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” is one of the most unsympathetic and disliked Disney villains throughout all of the franchise’s history. And rightly so, given that she’s literally a puppy killer.
But Disney+’s newest premier movie, “Cruella,” seeks to give her an origin story that turns her from an irredeemable villainess into a reluctantly sympathetic heroine.
Emma Stone plays the part of Estella, a young woman whose mother is murdered. Alone and orphaned, Estella meets two other orphans, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), and the three grow up together as thieves on the streets of 1970s London.
When Estella’s dreams of becoming a famous fashion designer lead her to a job working for the Baroness, a renowned fashion designer and true narcissist, she discovers that it was the Baroness who was responsible for her mother’s death.
Seeking revenge, Estella adopts her alter ego Cruella de Vil and, with the help of Jasper and Horace, tries to topple the Baroness from her throne of the fashion empire and take her renown, power and success for herself. In a wild series of heists, fights and impromptu fashion shows, the band of thieves turned unlikely fashionistas take the world by storm.
In a true “The Devil Wears Prada” meets “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” hybrid, “Cruella” does an amazing job of striking a middle ground between being suitable for children and entertaining for adults.
With a great soundtrack, believable writing and some truly great and cinematic scenes, the movie is a hallmark Disney film, and a great sign of things to come for the increasingly live action road that Disney seems set on.
The movie also pays homage to the 1970s London punk rock movement, where much of the movie’s atmosphere and most iconic scenes pull their roots from. This setting creates an artsy and original vibe you might not expect from a Disney film.
The cast is great, and Stone is outstanding in her role. She adopts a very believable British accent, and a punchiness with her lines that makes her transition from Estella to Cruella a memorable metamorphosis for the ages. Hauser and Fry are also perfect in their roles as the loveable henchmen, and do a great job of lending personality and humor to characters that might otherwise be forgettable.
The movie does leave some unanswered questions that one might expect a prequel to answer, such as why Cruella hates dalmatians or how she ends up becoming so evil in the original film. With that being said, it does a great job of turning a fundamentally dislikable character into an unlikely and unconventional heroine, and its ability to do so deserves recognition.
While the movie is great, its $30 price tag as a Disney+ premier film is a bit steep for anyone watching alone. For those looking to save money and willing to wait, the movie releases for free on Disney+ on August 27. With that being said, for families who would spend $50 or more on tickets to a theater, the movie is an enjoyable and entertaining two hours, especially for fans of the original film.