HOLLYWOOD—I was absolutely mesmerized with the Disney prequel “Cruella.” The thing about prequels, they tend to fail to deliver that actual punch that the audience actually wants in the movie universe. However, this film which chronicles the backstory of one of Disney’s iconic villains is exceptional. Whenever the writers can present a narrative that makes you feel sorry for the villain you know you’re doing a great job. I mean my heart was aching watching the upbringing of Estella aka Cruella.

However, it explains a lot when it comes to her action and motives as an adult. Oscar winners Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are fantastic in their respective roles. Stone is eccentric, exciting and mesmerizing as Cruella. With Thompson, place this woman in the Best Supporting Actress race for 2022 because her take on the Baroness is exceptional. Thompson’s level of villainy is so palpitating, so gripping, so nuanced that it’s damn scary. You can be evil without being over the top people and Thompson proves it with every degree of firepower in her arsenal.

I’ve always heard the saying that it takes a villain to create another villain, and Cruella proves that all too well as the audience gets to witness the dynamic between Cruella and the Baroness. I mean these two women start out friendly, but as secrets are unveiled as the narrative plays out the audience understand more how the friction between boss and employee starts to splinter away. In the process some surprising reveals are unearthed, one’s that I didn’t not expect.

The friendship between Cruella and her pals, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) is so much fun. Hauser is a hoot in the film delivering laughs from the moment he appears on the screen until the very end. His charisma and comedic timing cannot be beat people. In a nutshell, the narrative follows Cruella as she does her best to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. She works odd jobs and tantalizes with stealing things with her pals, until a chance meeting with the Baroness (Thompson), who has an appreciation for Cruella’s visually stunning designs.

The fashion is great in the flick and the visuals are absolutely tantalizing. This movie really puts the audience into the world of fashion houses. You become immersed in this movie and it is so invigorating you are not let go of the grip of this family friendly flick until the credits start to role. “Cruella” delivers exceptional acting, a story with plenty of heart, a villain that is so hateful you love her and a hero or anti-hero depending on who you speak to that tugs at your heart also, and strong supporting characters on the side.

A plus from the movie is the soundtrack. This movie has terrific songs that just mesh so well that you’re singing the tunes throughout the flick and they are left lingering in your head long after the movie ends. I cannot tell you how exciting watching “Cruella” was with the family. I thought this movie was something special and with news that a sequel is in the works I cannot wait to see where the writers take the story next and if audiences will be treated to a present day Cruella since it has been such a long time the iconic character has been seen on the big screen.