‘Cruella’ Review: Disney’s Best Live-Action Film to Date


I’ve made it no secret that I’ve not liked the majority of Disney’s live-action films. However, I was really excited about Cruella. My excitement sprouted for a number of reasons:

  1. Emma Stone is one of my favorite actresses – I simply adore her.
  2. Cruella is an interesting villain to present a backstory for. As a dog-loving-obsessed-pet-owner, I wondered how they could paint a backstory for this woman who was so easily hateable at the core.

While I appreciated the casting and the film’s overall vibe, that second reason really had me intrigued. How was Disney going to make me feel empathy for this villain?

For those that haven’t seen the trailer, here’s what you have to look forward to: Academy Award® winner Emma Stone (“La La Land”) stars in Disney’s “Cruella,” an all-new live-action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinemas most notorious – and notoriously fashionable – villains, the legendary Cruella de Vil. 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.

Check out the trailer below.

Cruella Trailer


Cruella Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

I have a friend who accurately described this film as Disney realizing they didn’t own the Harley Quinn license, so they decided to make their own version and do it justice. That’s essentially what this film is. It’s brilliantly complicated, stylized, and witty in a way that feels too good to truly be a Disney live-action film.

When watching this screener, I couldn’t help but think this was a film that was made for me – and others like me. This film’s target demo is those of us who saw the animated 101 Damilnations as a kid and then vividly remember Glenn Close as our Cruella – we’re now in our 30s and 40s – but that doesn’t stop us from loving Disney as much now as we did when we were in our single digits. 

The power that Disney truly has is nostalgia. And when it’s done right, it’s more powerful than any superhero in the MCU (or even the control that Baby Yoda has over all of us). And that’s what this film brings to the table. It’s not the best film ever – but it’s hands down the best Disney live-action film to date. Disney did an incredible job at modernizing this tale, presenting another perspective with our villain and what makes her tick and leaving audiences with the same awe that the storyline of the musical Wicked did.

Cruella is a film that Disney will likely get some flack for, but the overall story provided ample reason for the megastudio to make the creative decisions that they did. Emma Stone was freaking brilliant. The soundtrack licensing costs alone probably cost more than most films to make (seriously, check out the soundtrack for this film – it’s fantastic). And the visual design (from the set and costume design to the makeup to the film’s overall branding) was effortlessly edgy and grungy – while being so perfectly so that it couldn’t have been more polished.

Overall Thoughts

Quite simply put, Cruella is one of the best villain backstories to date. And Disney did it justice. The storyline matched with the soundtrack, the overall vibe of the film, the acting, and the actual script – it was the perfect potion.

While I don’t feel the marketing ahead of the film’s release is doing it justice (matched with the fact it’s releasing on Disney+ the same day), this film will be embraced by us Disneyphiles. And if, for some reason, you disagree – let’s discuss in the comments below! (I always welcome a healthy debate!)

Cruella Review:

Grade: A

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  1. Wow! An ‘A’ rating! I knew the minute I saw the trailer I had to see this and am thrilled with your review! Sounds great and I cannot wait to see it!

  2. That is quite an endorsement! I love 101 Dalmatians (both the live-action and cartoon). When I was 3-5 years old I used to play a 101 Dalmations computer game, which I was obsessed with. I for sure will watch the film, but probably when it’s free on Dinsey Plus in August. I don’t want to see it badly enough to spend thirty dollars on Dinsey Plus and I won’t be fully vaccinated for two more weeks.

  3. I was a lucky fan to meet and take a photo this week with Emma Stone, The DeVil herself! She and her husband were in Austin, TX over the Memorial Day Weekend following Disney’s World Premiere Film CRUELLA!
    It’s going to be a Bad Girl Summer. 💋 Brilliant. Bad. A Little Bit Mad.
    Congrats on their newborn baby girl. Thank you Fanbolt, for the fantastic review.

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