Generations of kids have been left merrily traumatised by Cruella de Vil. The One Hundred and One Dalmatians villain is a rakish (in that she looks like a rake) fashion diva whose goals are as simple as her two dimbulb henchmen: she wants to turn some adorable Dalmatian pups into a fur coat. Her motives can be summarised as ‘dahhling, it’s fashion and I’m evil... what do you want from me?’ She puffs green smoke from her endless cigarettes and screeches around in a car that haunted all our nightmares. She’s Vivienne Westwood’s raging id without a driving license.
As it turns out, this Disney origin story wants a lot more from her. This bold but uneven prequel from I, Tonya’s Craig Gillespie is definitely not cut from the same cloth as the 1961 animation or the 1996 Glenn Close iteration. An early scene has a pack of slathering Dalmations – oh yes, the spotty pooches are kinda the baddies here – knocking the mum of puckish young Cruella (then going by her actual name, Estella) off a cliff. And if that all takes some swallowing, wait until it gets into a fiddly plot involving a prized pendant that no 12-year-old (apart from those with a solid grounding in inheritance law) will understand.
Out in cinemas and Disney+ Premier Access worldwide May 28.