There are some very different movies that can be seen on the big screen during the Memorial Day Weekend now that movie theaters are open.
“Cruella” Grade 2 ½ stars: The Walt Disney Company continues to go into the vault of its animated productions to find inspiration for live-action films. We have seen it so far with “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Maleficent.”
Most of the adaptations have tried to stay true to the original animated offering. “Maleficent” changed direction, opting to focus more on the film’s villain than the Sleeping Beauty.
That’s the case now with “Cruella.”
Academy Award winner Emma Stone takes on the role of the puppy-hunting villain Cruella De Vil from the 1961 animated tale “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” This live-action feature film charts the rise of Cruella from mischievous grade schooler to rebellious fashion designer.
Director Craig Gillespie tells Cruella’s story against the renegade fashion world of 1970s London. A young grafter named Estella – who will become Cruella – lands a job at a prestigious fashion design firm. Estella starts out just wanting to make gorgeous fashions but her plans turn evil when she learns a heartbreaking truth about her heartless boss – played by Emma Thompson.
The majority of the screenplay by Dana Fox and Tony McNamara comes across like a dated version of “The Devil Wears Prada” with all of the fashion elements. That’s OK because Thompson is so devilishly good at playing bad.
A lot of credit also goes to Stone as she tries to find the fine line between making Cruella feel real and still have a cartoon element. She tries but doesn’t always succeed.
The two biggest problems with the movie is that Gillespie never heard a classic rock song he didn’t want to use in the movie. The endless hit parade of tunes ends up a huge distraction.
And, despite being based on an animated movie, “Cruella” is far too dark and too long for youngsters. It could have used a 45-mniute edit.
The film opens in theaters May 28 and will be available through Disney+ the same day.
Also new in theaters
“A Quiet Place Part II”: This sequel to the 2018 film is finally being released. The Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
“Supernatural: The Fifteenth and Finale Season” (Grade 3 ½ stars): The long and winding demonic road for the Winchester brothers – Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) – finally reached the end. It wrapped up with 327 episodes.
That episode total puts the series in a very rare position in TV history. Only 11 other scripted TV shows have stayed on the air for 15 or more seasons including “NCIS,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “ER” and “The Simpsons.”
But, as shown in the final season, this was not a series that merely survived but creatively thrived until the very end.
“Infinity Train: Book Two”: Mirror Tulip, an escaped reflection from the mirror world, and Jesse Cosay, a 14-year-old jock from Arizona, find themselves on the run from the mirror police.
“Chaos Walking”: Young man on a colony planet discovers a woman who apparently has the power to shut off the Noise.
“Deliver Us From Evil”: Assassin travels to Thailand to solve a kidnapping case that has been linked to him.
“The Bureau: The Complete Series”: All five seasons of Eric Rochant’s spy thriller television series are on this 15-disc set.
“The Unholy”: The fact a young hearing-impaired girl who is visited by the Virgin Mary can suddenly hear, speak and heal the sick may not be a blessing.
“Last Days”: Woman questions her faith when she faces another battle with cancer.
Being released through digital platforms
“My Zoe”: Scientist looks to find a way to keep some part of her child alive. Julie Delpy stars. Can be seen through Video on Demand.