Preview: Cruella

After a long wait, Disney finally releases the first trailer for their Cruella prequel film

Michael Duckworth
23rd February 2021
Image: IMDb
Everyone loves a good villain origin story, and what villain is more iconic and deserving than PETA’s worst nightmare, Cruella de Vil. Emma Stone takes the mantle from the incomparable Glenn Close in the 1996 101 Dalmations as the materialistic and dog-crazed villain Cruella, first introduced in the Disney classic in 1961. 

The film is said to depict Cruella as a 1970’s fashion designer with an edgy punk aesthetic and a desire to get high society to notice her. This ambition and drive, like any good Greek tragedy, drives her to madness. The newly released trailer shows off high speed car chases, vicious looking Dalmatians, burning buildings and a room full of party-goers in black and white wigs. There are also many shots of Emma Stone looking smart and sophisticated to wonderfully wild, so I look forward to watching what looks like Cruella’s rollercoaster of a journey into dog-murdering madness.

Image: IMDb

The most memorable part of the trailer has to be Cruella’s entrance into the unnamed antagonist's party. As the crowd turns and parts to reveal a white shrouded figure we see the cloak go up in flames as a fabulous scarlet dress is revealed. As a fan of unabashed camp, this was an exciting moment for me, this Hunger Games-esque burning-your-dress-at-a-big-event-to-get-attention stunt is exactly the kind of behaviour I would expect from Miss de Vil.

Devil (De Vil?) Wears Prada set the standard for a film focussed around fashion so I hope Disney pulls out all the stops when it comes to the wardrobe department and, for me, so far so great. All I can hope is the white-cloak-into-red-gown moment is one of many, and that the film goes deeper than her voice-over would suggest.

However, it is Disney and so my hopes for this are not too high

“I was born [...] a little bit mad” is somewhat contrived and cliché at this point, a deeper criticism of what could turban entrepreneurial young woman in the fashion industry into a luxury-obsessed heartless killer would be much more interesting to watch and would give the movie a deeper layer of complexity for its viewers.

However, it is Disney and so my hopes for this are not too high, after the lukewarm Mulan remake (2020) and the disastrous Dumbo remake (2019) I can only hope that this prequel aims higher, takes a more daring approach and deliver a unique backstory for a darkly fascinating and beloved Disney villain.

Cruella is set to release in theatres 26th May 2021 but given the current state of things, I have an inkling this may be a Disney+ exclusive.

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