Disney has released the first trailer for Craig Gillespie’s “Cruella,” a live-action adaptation the 1961 animated “101 Dalmatians.” Set in 1970s London, the film Emma Stone as the younger version of the titular villainous pampered and glamorous socialite who is destined to set the world of fashion ablaze. Though animated original had a playful jazz-inspired vibe, director Craig Gillespie gives the live-action version a punk rock twist.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Disney has released a live-action adaptation of one of their animated classics, especially one where it gives us a different perspective on a villainess. They released two Maleficent films, starring Angelina Jolie, within five years of each other. It is a trend that has proven to be quite lucrative for the studio, though recent efforts prove that the novelty is wearing out its welcome, at least from a critic’s standpoint. That being said, they can work if paired with the right creative team. So, it should be interesting to see if “Cruella” can be commercially and critically successful.
While most of the criticism of these films are that they are merely rehashes of their animated counterparts “Cruella,” is a origins story of the title character, who, at the early age, sees the world differently from everybody else. She acknowledges how that might not sit well with everyone, but knows that it is her destiny to be different from everybody else. And she does this with fire and brimstone, and that signature laugh.
Originally, “Cruella” was slated for a December 2020 released, before it was pushed up to a current May 2021. Though there had been some debate as to whether or not the film – as well as a few others – would hit theaters during a pandemic. But the shrinking number of cases and a vaccine rollout seems to indicate that studios are confident that theaters will open just in time for the summer blockbuster season. Of course, this is just speculation on my part. There is no telling if Disney will release it in theaters and on Disney+, or just one of them. So we just have to wait and see.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for “Cruella:”
‘“Cruella,” which is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by two-time Oscar® winner Emma Thompson (“Howards End,” “Sense & Sensibility”). But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella.’
Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser star as Japser Badun and Horace Badun, respectuvefully, two of Cruella’s henchmen. It also stars Emily Beecham, Mark Strong, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Jamie Demetriou.
Directed by Craig Gillespie, who uses a screenplay written by Dana Fox and Tony McNamara, from a story by Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, and Steve Zissis, “Cruella” opens in theaters on May 28, 2021.