AN icon of fashionable villainy for over half a century, Cruella de Vil returns to screens this week for an origins story many are calling ‘The Devil Wears Disney’.

Long before the likes of The Lion King and Mulan, 101 Dalmatians received the Disney remake treatment way back in the 90s. That film, and, to a lesser extent, its sequel, was a hit with audiences. Such is the enduring appeal of the character, who first appeared in print in 1956, and the world in which she exists. The leading roles afforded several dozen adorable puppies helped too.

Glenn Close proved a perfect fit for a live action De Vil in the remakes and leaves big shoes to fill for a new, younger Cruella. To this end, one could hardly have hoped to find a stronger successor than Emma Stone. The Oscar winning star quickly makes the part her own and relishes the opportunity to truly devour the scenery.

And what scenery it is! Set in 1970s London, Cruella finds an unexpected home in the decade’s punk rock movement. Watch in awe as Stone transitions from visually meek to stylistically unhinged. It’s a aura that pumps through the film’s artistic design, costumes and soundtrack and pays dividends in gifting Cruella a unique sense of identity, as so many of the Disney remakes have lacked. There’s no precedent here and it’s a huge weight off the film’s shoulders.

Alongside Stone, Emma Thompson enjoys safe territory as Baroness von Hellman: the haute fashion legend, who employs De Vil and quickly becomes her rival. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser play brothers Jasper and Horace, crooks Cruella hires to help her enact her dastardly crimes, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste is Anita Darling, the future owner of 101 dalmatian puppies.

Behind the camera, Craig Gillespie directs with all the force of nature that found him success with I, Tonya. Nicholas Britell scores the film, which boasts an original song by Florence and the Machine, while cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis is the artist behind its visual flair. Quite the dream team.

As will prove the defining feature of films released in 2021, Cruella shares its cinema debut with an appearance on Disney+, where it will sit behind a £19.99 paywall. For my money, this one’s better enjoyed on the big screen. It’s sharp, funny and a fashionable feast of bad.