There's always a bit of skepticism that comes along whenever Disney announce they will be doing a live action version of one of their beloved animated films. Recently we've seen Aladdin and Mulan fail to live up their animated counterparts, the end result of both being bland and instantly forgettable. With Cruella, Disney aren't doing a live action remake of 101 Dalmatians, instead a prequel and origin story of one of their most iconic villains of all time, Cruella de Vil. With that in mind and with Emma Stone on board, this was one always on my radar.

With her sights set on becoming a fashion designer in her teenage years, a tragic chain of events seem intent on making sure that dream doesn't come to fruition. Four years later, Estella (Emma Stone) has formed a criminal relationship with Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry), stealing from regualr folk for petty cash. A chance encounter with Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), the head of a prestigious fashion house, sees her realise she may be destined for more after all, setting in motion a journey down a path that sees her become Cruella de Vil.

Right off the bat, Cruella stands out head and shoulders amongst many other films to easily become one of the best live action efforts from Disney, particularly in recent memory. Craig Gillespie delivers a dark and stylish origin story for Cruella de Vil that's easy to have a lot of fun with, one needle drop too many maybe but the soundtrack definitely understands the punk rock assignment set by the film. Great to hear a bit of Supertramp for the first time in a long while.

Speaking of stylish, Cruella truly excels at its attention to detail with authentic production design to recreate this particular era in London, fashion playing a huge part in the city lifestyle. It's the costume design from Jenny Beavan that is on another level here alongside the hairstyling and makeup department that fully deserve all the praise about to head their way when the film is released to the world. They might as well start engraving the names on all the awards ready for them to sweep the next awards season.

As for the performances, there is not one person here who doesn't seem to be having a blast bringing their respective character to life, Emma Stone leading the film with an expectedly strong performance full of flair and tons of attitude, while Emma Thompson chews up and spits out all the scenery with a gloriously over-the-top turn as such a vile antagonist. Both of them revel in playing against type and it's great to see them verbally spar with one another throughout. It's Paul Walter Hauser though who threatens to steal the whole film from under their noses with a very funny performance as Horace, half of Cruella's bumbling yet well-intentioned henchmen.

Cruella may run for just a tad too long and there are some shabby looking visual effects work on some of the dogs in places, which feels as if it shouldn't happen considering how big a studio Disney is however, there's no denying I had a lot of fun with this and I genuinely think plenty more will feel the same when Cruella de Vil is unleashed to the world.

Verdict: ★★★★


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