Cruella review – a Disney live-action triumph

By Marc Miller
Published: May 28, 2021 (Last updated: April 7, 2023)
Cruella review - a Disney live-action triumph


Cruella is pure, perfect big studio escapism. It’s a witty, suspenseful, ultra-cool, killer Disney live-action triumph.

Cruella is madcap brilliant. I said it. Everyone has an opinion on the state of Disney live-action remakes. But let’s back up for a second. Craig Gillespie hasn’t made a remake, but an origin story; a prequel that surpasses the last incarnation in every way— including Emma Stone’s relentlessly wicked take on Cruella that’s even better than Glenn Close’s performance that resonated 25 years ago.

Gillespie is an eclectic filmmaker that is just as comfortable behind the camera of Disney family-friendly fare (The Finest Hours, Million Dollar Arm) and well-regarded indies (Lars and the Real Girl). He is working from a smart script from The Favourite scribe Tony McNamara and Dan Fox, who has had so many flops by the tip of her own pen, I’m baffled she wrote a script this good. Cruella has an intricate plot that doubles as a heist caper, and is better than any of the Ocean films have come up with recently.

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The film is darker than one would expect. So much so, one would hope Disney might go with a trilogy that has Stone complete her descent into full Cruella madness. That’s what make’s this mad-house creation so absorbing on how they take the origin, that’s frankly steeped in trauma. Contrary to popular belief, villains aren’t born evil. Cruella’s origin is a byproduct of this.

Stone is fabulous in the role. The best villains have grounded attributes of uncontrolled mental health issues. She paints Cruella as an individual who is impulsive and self-destructive, with big mood swings, explosive anger, and clear abandonment issues. She’s also a hell of a lot of fun, addictive, and often bad for you — just like any borderline personality. It’s a movie, so that may be fictitious, but it’s better than explaining she’s evil because half her body fell in a vat of bleach.

The entire movie is perfectly cast. Thompson, as always, is a delicious villain who delivers an endless amount of dark wit. Paul Walter Hausser’s superb comic relief and uniquely talented enough to avoid making his Horace too much of a cliche. It’s what a supporting role should be, complimenting the lead and the story.

I could continue with this lovefest, but let’s just cut to the chase because the filmmakers found to de Vil in the details. Cruella is pure, perfect big studio escapism. It’s a witty, suspenseful, ultra-cool, killer Disney live-action triumph. Go stream it.


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