Disney+ Hotstar Malaysia just dropped "Cruella" on its streaming channel and the origin story of Cruella de Vil has been the talk of the town.
Starring Emma Stone (Cruella/Estella) and Emma Thompson (Baroness), there's high expectation in terms of performance and we must say they delivered pretty well.
Although (this is almost certainly a biased view) we felt that Thompson may have just stolen the show by a tiny bit at least. Not just because she's a brilliant actress with a lot more experience but also her character was unapologetically evil.
Gist of the story
But before we get into all that, Cruella is basically the origin story of the dognapping villain from "One Hundred and One Dalmatians". Like her hair, Estella/Cruella has two very distinct personalities - the good and the bad - that she struggles with.
Estella/Cruella is brought up by her adoptive mother, who falls to her death at a aristrocrat's ball after being attacked by three dalmations. Running away to London, where she and her adoptive mother were heading anyway after Estella got kicked out school for being a troublemaker, she hooks up with Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and becomes a thief.
They grow up but Estella's love for fashion remains and she idolises 70s fashion icon Baroness. With the help of her dodgy friends, she end up working for Baroness who isn't all Estella thought she was.
The story truly starts when Estella finds out the Baroness actually killed her adoptive mother so she decides to embrace her "Cruella" persona and goes head to head with the legend.
What we liked
First, there's the fashion and the music. We're no fashion experts but we do love a good glam-rock look - with all the blacks and dark reds - featured mostly in Cruella's designs. Couple that with creative presentation of those costumes and music by bands like Black Sabbath, Queen and the Bee Gees, you have a winner.
Cruella's entrance to Baroness's 'black and white' themed party after she decides to butt heads with the latter is especially memorable.
As we mentioned before, both the Emma's played their characters well, which definitely made the movie a lot more watchable than it would have been otherwise.
What we didn't like
Our main issue with the movie is that Cruella de Vil's character does not match the name at all. Except for a brief period in the middle of the movie where she acts like an a** to her very helpful friends, Cruella isn't bad at all.
Even the dognapping-for-their-fur allegation against her is made out to be a misunderstanding. Poor Cruella!
We get that this is Disney so they can't really pull a "Joker" where one gains sympathy for the villain by telling the origin story without taking away from the fact that he's a psychotic killer, but come on. The end credit scenes especially was an overkill.
It's just really hard to wrap our heads around a villain who isn't in the least bit villainous. And no, disrupting Baroness's fashion shows and sabotaging her doesn't count.
Perhaps if you disregard the fact that the movie is supposed to be the origin story of Cruella de Vil, the evil villain that we have all gotten to know over the years, the movie would be enjoyable.
Guess it's like watching a movie based on a book. You treat it like two entirely different stories so you can appreciate the good parts of both.
It's entertaining, with an impressive cast and all the necessary elements to make the movie seem cool. In fact, IMDB and Rotten Tomato ratings for the movie is pretty decent.
Not a bad watch if you just feel like killing some time.