'Cruella' reviews are in. Here's what critics have to say. thumbnail

‘Cruella’ reviews are in. Here’s what critics have to say.

If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will
If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will

Image: laurie sparham / disney

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By Belen Edwards

The reviews for the Emma Stone-led Cruella are in. Disney’s latest live-action film, an origin story for 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella de Vil, releases in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access on May 28.

Many critics questioned the need for a Cruella origin story in the first place and criticized its long run time (135 minutes) and convoluted storytelling. However, despite these misgivings, critics also pointed out that Stone and Thompson give commanding performances and that Jenny Beavan’s costume designs elevate the movie. As far as Disney’s live-action prequels and reboots go, Cruella seems to be at the top of the heap.

Here’s what critics have to say about one of Disney’s biggest releases this year.

A fun, if unnecessary, prequel

Mashable, Angie Han

As a prequel, it’s half-baked nonsense. As an excuse for the two Emmas to trade ever-bitchier quips and ever-more-outrageous outfits, it’s a ball.

The A.V. Club, Katie Rife

The film’s five-person screenwriting team—which includes both the co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and an Oscar-winning writer of The Favourite—goes about rehabilitating Cruella de Vil’s image, first through the most ludicrous self-mythologizing since we found out how Han Solo got his last name. It’s arguably a spoiler, so we’ll avoid details, but trust that the Cruella of the prequel has a reason for disliking Dalmatians that’s sure to produce a hearty snort from all but the most credulous viewers. Mostly, however, Cruella ignores the bad in favor of the brilliant, a more agreeable form of revisionism.

Vox, Emily VanDerWerff

Cruella is not a movie the world needs. It would be really great if Hollywood would quit reheating its leftovers and pretending they’re new, and maybe the only way to teach the entertainment industry that lesson is to avoid these poor excuses for corporate brand extensions. We can agree upon that. We don’t have to say anything more about it! Except we do.

Because plot twist: I mostly had a blast while watching Cruella, even if I immediately started picking it apart the second I walked out of the theater. It’s an unnecessary movie with several easily identifiable flaws. Still, I kinda hope it gets a sequel.

Emma Thompson as the Baroness

Emma Thompson as the Baroness

Image: laurie sparham/disney

Strong leading performances

The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw

Kindly step back and make way for a sensational couple of Emmas: Stone and Thompson. Together, they are the highly strung dysfunctional double-act that post-lockdown cinema didn’t know it needed.

The Hollywood Reporter, Lovia Gyarkye

I admit to finding it hard to picture Stone going so flamboyantly savage; despite her lauded work in La La Land and The Favourite, the actress will, for me, forever be Olive from Easy A. But I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.

It’s a thrill to see Stone and Emma Thompson, sly and funny as the Miranda Priestley-esque Baroness…gnash their teeth at each other.

Collider, Matt Goldberg

Stone is her usual winning self as she chews the scenery, while [Joel] Fry and especially [Paul Walter] Hauser are hilarious in their supporting roles. Even the Baroness, a one-dimensional, irredeemable, obvious villain, comes alive because Thompson is so good at making that villainy delectable.

Cruella (Emma Stone) makes an entrace

Cruella (Emma Stone) makes an entrace

Image: Laurie sparham/disney

Spectacular fashion

Mashable, Angie Han

The Baroness’s dresses are stunning in their own right, all luxe fabrics and elegant silhouettes, but it’s in Cruella’s that costume designer Jenny Beavan truly outdoes herself.

Cruella’s designs are deliberately alienating, even ugly, and get edgier as she falls further into her wicked side; at one point, she literally turns trash into couture. They’re outfits dreamed up by a woman who cares less about looking beautiful or tasteful than in making you look, period, and they represent as strong a statement about the character’s renegade spirit as anything in Dana Fox and Tony McNamara’s script or even Stone’s performance. 

Slashfilm, Josh Spiegel

Jenny Beavan, who rightly won an Academy Award for her masterful work on Mad Max: Fury Road, does a genuinely stunning job with the fashion; there are few aspects of such a story that you have to get right, and this is one of them. The biggest star of Cruella, aside from Thompson, is Beavan.

The Hollywood Reporter, Lovia Gyarkye

What Cruella lacks in script, however, it makes up for in sheer visual punch, with costume designer Jenny Beavan’s exquisitely detailed gowns especially enriching the angsty, sinister universe the film conjures. From Thompson’s glamorous plaid gold suit and show-stopping dresses to Stone’s lace-trimmed gloves, peplum skirts and one adventurous frock made of newspaper, the costumes are architectural and aesthetic feats that pay homage to designers from Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano to Alexander McQueen.

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