If you take nothing else away from the first trailer for Disney’s upcoming May release of Cruella, let it be that this footage serves as a dual illustration of both the company’s impressive technical abilities and relative bankruptcy when it comes to new, original ideas. Disney remains in full-on culture mining mode, producing film after film that simply cannibalizes its previous stories—or minor elements of those stories. Is there any character that Disney couldn’t spin into their own feature length film at this point?
On the other hand, actually looking at the costuming and effects on display in this trailer, it’s all quite impressive. Emma Stone seems to fit in perfectly as a young and hungry Cruella de Vil, determined to get to the top of the fashion industry. Her sonorous voice and evil cackle has given the character some palpable menace already, which is a major asset for Cruella. So too is its supporting cast, which includes the likes of Mark Strong, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham and Emma Thompson as “the Baroness,” a high lady of fashion who Cruella will presumably have to dethrone on her way to the top. Also showing up: Some Dalmatians, although no reference to skinning them just yet.
One has to wonder about the overall tone of Cruella, and whether it will present the character as more of an unabashed villain than the antihero route that was taken in Maleficent. Director Craig Gillespie actually has some experience in telling this sort of villain story before: He directed 2017’s I, Tonya, with a varied resume that also includes films like Lars and the Real Girl and Fright Night. Meanwhile, Cruella was also co-written by Tony McNamara, one half of the writing team that brought us Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, also starring Emma Stone. So perhaps there’s a bit more moral ambiguity to this Cruella than meets the eye? Then again, it’s Disney, so probably not.
Check out the “psycho” trailer for Cruella below. The film is currently scheduled for release on May 28, 2021, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will hold that date, or whether a simultaneous Disney+ release might be in the cards.