Into the Woods ★★½

What bothers me most about Rob Marshall's stage adaptation isn't that it guts the second half of the Broadway play, losing much of the primary theme, and one of the show's best songs, the "Agony" reprise, and the finale that picks the mood back up from unrelentingly bleak. It isn't just that it's visually drab and unimaginative, overusing the same swirling camera movement, some clunky Jack The Giant Killer CGI, and a space that looks exactly like a soundstage decked in plastic plants. It isn't the casting of a couple of kids who bring down the level of the show considerably. These are all bothersome problems, but the even more egregious issue for me is that the film is so determined to gloss over the deaths it doesn't cut that the last quarter of the film is just muddled and confusing, with people periodically saying "Oh, so-and-so died offscreen, by the way," and then trying to dredge up a big emotional impact from something that, as far as the audience is concerned, didn't even happen. So much is cut from the second act that the characters' motivations and mindsets become muddled, and nothing makes much more sense than "Oh, by the way, I found your wife crushed at the bottom of a cliff, so I decided to steal her scarf because I thought it would look nice on me." WTF.