One of the biggest challenges with villain origin stories is telling a compelling story while staying true to the character. Somehow, director Craig Gillespie manages to do just that with Cruella. He tells a story that adds dimension and depth to the character without sacrificing her wicked side. On top of all that, while the film has its dark moments, it still maintains a sense of levity and fun. The film’s stylish backdrop of 1970s London adds to what feels like a chic, punk-rock tribute to one of Disney’s most devilish characters.
Keeping the Devil in Cruella
The greatest strength of Cruella lies in the character herself. Somehow, the creatives managed to craft an origin that both births the classic, wicked character and makes her endearing. Yes it’s true. This iteration of Cruella captivates you until you can’t help but root for her. At first, the origin seems a bit on the nose, but it becomes more complete by the end of the film. Her motivations make sense and allow you to empathize, but never pity her. As you would expect, Cruella’s origin story has its dark moments, but it never drags the story down. You get plenty of wicked moments that pay homage to the classic character.
One of the most enjoyable qualities of Cruella is the film’s fun, carefree spirit. The film feels like a massive celebration of the setting and its main character. One of the best statement scenes is Cruella’s first runway show in the streets. It’s edgy, stylish, and captivating. It highlights the spirit and tone of the whole film. More than anything, the film makes it feel like you were a guest at one of the biggest parties in all of London.
Style Boldly Stated
Cruella is an extremely stylish film. It applies to everything from the fashion and music to the overall production design. The film transports you back to 1970s London. It gives an homage to the punk scene of that decade and adds some fashion-forward flare. The film’s production design also contains some very fashionable elements. Sets, props, and vehicles fit the west-end London setting. The film’s soundtrack, filled with classic songs from the 60s and 70s, underlies all of those visual elements tying everything together. Overall, Cruella is a solid villain origin story that gets you rooting for the big bad while having a blast doing so.