“The thing is, I was born brilliant. Born bad. And a little bit mad.”
Disney’s newest prequel film Cruella premieres on May 28 and gives viewers a whole new look at one of Disney’s most classic villains. The original 101 Dalmatians (1961) film, as well as the live-action 101 Dalmatians remake (1996) — starring Glenn Close — showed Cruella De Vil as a borderline psychotic woman obsessed with making a coat out of puppies. This new film, however, focuses on a younger Cruella — played by Emma Stone (La La Land) and how she became the villain that fans love…and love to hate.
Spoiler Warning: While we highly recommend watching Cruella, and we’d love for you to read our review, we want to warn you that some minor spoilers and our reaction to the film are included within this article. Continue reading at your own discretion, and be sure to watch Cruella in theaters or on Disney+ on May 28!
Before she became Cruella De Vil, Estella was just a young girl living on the streets of London after the death of her mother. Befriended by two street boys, Horace and Jasper, Estella and her crew spend their years stealing and conning their way through life. That all changes when Estella finally gets a job at the clothing store of her dreams. Estella — who has always been obsessed with fashion and how it can represent a person — thinks that this job could be her big break.
Unfortunately for Estella, her outspoken ways and determination to move upwards in her career don’t sit well with her boss, and she is fired shortly after she starts — but not before she attracts the attention of England’s biggest designer Baroness Von Hellman (played by Emma Thompson).
Working for the Baroness quickly turns from Estella’s dream job to her worst nightmare and makes Estella’s transformation into Cruella almost unavoidable. The Baroness holds secrets that will show Estella who she truly is and turn her into the dark, determined woman who will stop at nothing to take down Britain’s biggest fashion icon.
“Villains are always so fun to portray, because you-you just have, you know, more license to, uh, to do things that aren’t quite appropriate or push the boundaries, and, uh, create these larger-than-life characters.” – Cruella Director Craig Gillespie
Larger than life is exactly what you can expect from Disney’s newest villain story. From the costumes to the characters to the dark moments, this film leaves everything you would expect from a traditional Disney film in the dust. Even though Disney has its dark, villainous moments, the whole of the film is usually lighthearted and family-friendly. This film throws lightheartedness out the window and comes at the audience full force from minute one.
What makes this film fun is seeing actresses we typically see in fun, wholesome roles taking on new roles that pull the darkness out of them. Emma Stone really plays two characters in the film — Estella and Cruella. She may be one person, but she has two distinct personalities, and Stone nails them both. She manages to take Estella’s hurt and drive and transfer it into Cruella’s darkness. Emma Stone makes the audience feel like they can be on Cruella’s side, despite the person they know she becomes.
Also turning into possibly one of Disney’s darkest villains is Emma Thomspon. In the Disney universe, Thompson can most recently be seen as the loving mother — and teapot — Mrs. Potts in the 2017 Disney live-action remake Beauty and the Beast. Thompson’s character of Baroness Von Hellman could not be further from Mrs. Potts, and Thompson absolutely nails it.
The Baroness is a take-no-prisoners woman who will stop at nothing to stay at the top and take down anyone who gets in her way. Trying to take her down could result in the Baroness’s opposition getting burned, literally. Thompson fully encompasses all the darkness that lives inside the Baroness and makes you truly hate her by the end, but absolutely loving Thompson for how well she plays the role.
While this film is a Disney one, viewers must remember that it is rated PG-13 and may not be appropriate for all viewers. Cruella will premiere simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ on May 28 with Premier Access.
Overall Grade: A-
Be sure to watch Cruella when it premieres on May 28 and let us know what you think!