Snow White and the Huntsman

Oh I suck it took me a month to get this review out.

My movie experience was a little different this time.  Nu Metro Waterfront held a pre-release screening on Thursday, 31st May. It’s their Ladies Night event, where ladies have a night out, being served by shirtless men and eating glittery cupcakes and having free things thrown at them and entering a raffle for a small army of fantastic goodies. My friend made this awesome discovery and we went together along with her sisters and two of their friends.  My ambition was to be served pretty cupcakes by shirtless men that I could ogle.  Sadly the shirtless men arrived late, and by then I had already eaten a glitter drenched cupcake and received a free box of Jaffa Cakes.  It was easy to see who had eaten cupcakes because suddenly almost everyone had glitter on their lips and cheeks.  It was very cute.

On entering the cinema we were given a magic show followed by the raffle.  I had made jokes about winning a prize, and had a horror filled moment were I might have won 3 six packs of booze, but thankfully it was a slightly different surname to mine.  So I was over hoping to win something when my name was drawn.  Well I was completely shocked, yes I entered and I joked about winning but I didn’t really expect to, especially when someone else who has the same first name as me had already won the booze.  I won a huge packet of fantastic goodies, lots of biscuits, more Jaffa Cakes, and toffees.  Mmmm I like chocolate covered toffees, I did have visions of my filling getting ripped out, but fortunately that didn’t happen.  So, with a packet full of nummie goodies on my lap, I proceeded to watch Snow White and the Huntsman.

It should really be called The Huntsman and Snow White or Thor 2 or Thor was involved in the medieval tale that will give rise to the Snow White fairy tale!  I’m totally in love with Chris Hemsworth, his death at the beginning of JJ Abrams Star Trek movie still makes me cry, and he is fantastic at playing a god. He plays the warrior role well; I foresee a new action star with more acting talent than Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris …. basically the entire cast of the Expendables 2, (which I am so excited for) put together. Unfortunately, while Snow White and the Huntsman was a treat to watch, the script had some serious issues.

Firstly may I say that Charlize Theron is a FANTASTIC Evil Queen.  She and Regina, the Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time TV series, are the most evil and fleshed out fairytale Queens I have ever seen.  You could see that Revanna had a warped view of the world due to a trauma in her childhood, and that while her motives for what she does and her hate for Snow White are unfounded, you can see they stem from her own insecurities and neuroses.  That being said she yelled a bit to make her point, which I guess might be to indicate that her moods aren’t entirely stable.  But if you are an all powerful witch queen you wouldn’t need to yell.  If she were as scary as everyone around her is acting, she would have no need.  Her yelling makes her look weak, like she has no control over her subjects.

As I’ve said I love the Huntsman.  So yummy, so…….. unwashed!  He played the semi drunk warrior well.  At one point in the film my friend got the giggles, all she could see when he was fighting was Thor, not the huntsman.  The poor prince, he really didn’t stand a chance with Thor in this film.

Kirsten Stewart.  I really want to be nice about her, but she was really wooden.  Don’t get me wrong, she is good at showing grief and pain, but I don’t think she knows how to convey any other emotions, so all that’s left is this confused constipated look on her face. (very many of my friends have used the word constipated to describe Kirsten Stewart, it’s not just me who see’s it.)  I also think that she wasn’t given much to work with in this film. I think her dialogue is even less than the rest of the cast, like they didn’t want her to talk, they just needed someone to look pretty and sad.  Her accent was very good, I quite enjoyed her sounding different, but the personality wasn’t a big enough change from what we saw in Twilight or in her interviews.

When all’s said and done my biggest gripe with the film is the script.  It’s as though they weren’t entirely sure what kind of narrative they were trying to create.  They’re trying to build up this magical lore around Snow, like she’s holy, but they can’t really decide what, so they call her the ‘One’ in several different ways, imbue her in magic but don’t indicate whether it’s something she can use; she’ll bring balance to the force; her mere presence heals people; which is then followed by a character dying, make up your bloody mind.  Then we get some Lord of the Rings visual references, which I get. They created the iconic travelling over the mountains scenes but one of the earlier horse chase sequences was too similar to Arwen’s horse chase in Fellowship, right down to the camera angles. Then there’s a Narnia reference when they walk into a magical hidden forest. There are several walking over the mountain travel scenes that again look straight out of Lord of the Rings, granted when it comes to fantasy forest travel scenes they will all look a tad similar, the birds eye shot used to give a sense of how big the forest/ world your travelling in.  Truly the only thing that differentiated those travel scenes from the Lord of the Rings scenes was that you could see the terrain was different.  Well I would because I try to watch the trilogy extended edition at least once a year.  Then we get something really interesting, the magical creatures. The fairies are different, and oh so cute. They remind me of something, but I still can’t figure out what just yet.  We get some moss covered tortoises, nice and ancient looking, and then we get a white stag, who can turn into butterflies and has antlers that look like huge tree branches.  It’s a very cool visual, but not one that really fits itself into any western mythology.  I don’t know any stories, myths or fairytales about magical/holy stags with weird antlers.  So the stag was nice and different, not necessary to the story, but I’m pretty sure some people watching it thought, ‘huh it’s the Forest Spirit from Princess Mononoke’.

I think in general there wasn’t enough in this film. It fell short on its characters except for the Huntsman and The Queen.  The rest of the cast wasn’t given enough to work with. Sometime’s all it takes is one perfect line to bring a character across.  Especially the dwarves, they had a group of really good actors, and they could have done a lot more with their characters, but they just weren’t given a chance to shine.  However, I enjoyed the movie, but I seriously can’t see how they can turn this into a franchise.

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Mirror Mirror

This movie is definitely an acquired taste. It’s what I call a ridiculous fantasy, and more often than not, films like this miss the mark, like Ella Enchanted. (they butchered my favourite book in the entire world) Having said that, I really enjoy Mirror Mirror, while it was a ridiculous fantasy, I found it enjoyable. In my opinion the comedy was good, the characters likable, and the costumes and sets lavish and colourful, a tad over the top but in a way that works.

The film is by Tarsem Singh who has made a name for himself directing movies that are visually very colourful and detailed, and fairly surreal. He directed The Cell, with Jennifer Lopez, The Fall, which I plan to watch, but it looks amazing, and The Immortals, which as I have said is remiss to 300 and people died in it in a beautiful explosively gory way.

Mirror Mirror is a loose interpretation of the Snow White fairy tale, which I like. It doesn’t follow the typical Snow White story arc, which means you can’t exactly predict where the story is going to go, and gives the story a uniqueness.

As Snow Whites go Lily Collins was nothing special, in fact I think she’s pretty much the Disney version come to life, albeit a less squeaky version. When they announced Lily Collins as Snow White I looked her up and didn’t find her looks very memorable. Interesting how dying her hair darker made her look beautiful! Now I find her stunning! Oh wait there she goes back to her normal hair colour, never mind.

(I am so mean, she’s the daughter of Phil Collins, I should be a bit nicer.)

The love interest was hot, very dashing, very nice teeth. He was so funny as a love sick puppy.

The highlight of this film was Julia Roberts, she was hilarious, she looked gorgeous in all those beautiful over-the-top frilly dresses and she was just so cute when she was evil! The Evil Queen’s magic and her mirror were also an interesting take on magic.

And let’s not forget Nathan Lane. It was enjoyable to watch him suffer at the hands of the Evil Queen especially his misadventures as a cockroach. (no that is not a spoiler, it was in the trailer!)

Finally the dwarves. Firstly, they didn’t have the Disney names, YAY! They were an enjoyable group, they had a natural lively friendly dynamic with each other, and they were so sweet around Snow White. The worst Seven Dwarves cast were the ones in Kristin Kreuk’s Snow White: The Fairest of Them All. Ok they weren’t great, but they were bumbling, and I can’t stand bumbling when done badly. I found these dwarves to have the most personality ever in a Snow White film that I have seen.

I really loved the prologue in the film, it’s 3D animation of porcelain puppets, I just love the style. It like the prologue in Hellboy 2, with the wooden puppets; or the Deathly Hallows tale that was done with shadow puppet styled animation. It has this eerie disturbed quality to it that I just love.

I think my friends enjoyed Mirror Mirror, it wasn’t great but it was fun, unfortunately that all ended when they began singing at the end of the film! My one friend put her head in her hands and began to moan over and over again ‘No, no, no’, and the other exclaimed that the film had suddenly become a Bollywood film. I think audiences would have enjoyed the film more, of thought more kindly towards the film had the director not put that Bollywood number in. It was just plain WRONG!

Unfortunately I suspect I was the only person who really enjoyed this film, but then I like ridiculous colourful fantasy films like this. I mean I love Speed Racer, and I have yet to meet a person who saw it, let alone liked it. I can’t even begin to think why I love Speed Racer so much and watch it so often, although I suspect it’s the colourful ridiculousness of it. Mirror Mirror is a fun, colourful, ridiculous movie.

Jack the Giant Killer

Fairytale’s appear to be really big in 2012.  This film looks like fun, and its got Ewan McGregor, whom I love!  (Team Obi One!)  Jack is played by Nicholas Hoult who we recentaly saw in X-men First Class playing Hank McCoy.  He was also in Clash of the Titans, which I didn’t know.  Jack’s got some big names, Stanley Tucci, Bill Nighy, and Ian McShane.

I hereby dubb 2012 the year of the Fairytale.

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time and Terra Nova are my two obsession series of the year.  They’re different from the usual cop murder shows, or the hospital dramas that I watch, they are now my fantasy sci-fi fix now that Stargate is officially dead.  The concept behind Once Upon a Time excited me, we have had very few fantasy shows over the years, and not many of them survive for very long.  If done right Once Upon a Time could do very well, and is doing very well so far, although I do have a few gripes.

Let me explain.  Fairytales and fables are a great source of ideas, there are multiple versions of tales, and you can draw from multiple cultures.  That being said, there is one huge problem.  DISNEY.  I absolutely love Disney, I have watched every movie, except Bambi, hundreds of times, and that’s only during this year.  The thing is, just because Disney has released their version of famous fairytales, doesn’t me that their version must become the cannon.  Once Upon a Time has the opportunity to take the original tales and do with them whatever they want, which they have done in some areas but not in others. For example:  the seven dwarves.  Next year we see the release of two Snow White movies, each with their own set of Seven Dwarves.  In Snow White and the Huntsmen the dwarves are named after Roman Emperors: Caesar, Tiberius, Constantine, Claudius, Hadrian, Nero and Trajan;  in Mirror Mirror the dwarves are named: Butcher, Grimm, Half-Pint, Grub, Napoleon, Wolf and Chuckles.  But OUaT called their dwarves Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Doc, Sneezy, Bashful and Dopey, after the Disney version.  So far we have seen Grumpy and Sleepy in the ‘real’ world, and are known as Leroy and Walter.  I can see Grumpy/ Leroy is a favourite, but then who doesn’t love a grumpy character?  (Team Grumpy Bear).  Seriously, they have all this creative wiggle room and what do they do?  They use the Disney names, which aren’t very flattering.  Ug, even in Kristin Kreuk’s Snow White, her dwarves where named after days of the week and colour coded to match the colours of the rainbow!  OUaT was doing so well with their Snow White interpretation, their Snow White’s on the run, living rough, stealing from the rich, dealing with evil trolls, she’s got attitude and the ability to take care of herself, and Prince Charming actually has a name!  But I won’t spoil that.  They were doing so well avoiding the Disney references with Snow White’s story (apart from the dwarves names) but when we finally get other fairytale characters, it’s like the writers get lazy and use Disney as their source of visual reference for their fairytales.

The evil witch from Sleeping Beauty is the Evil Queen/ Regina’s best friend.  So they call her Maleficent!  Now I admit it is a fabulous name, and considering the evil fairy or queen (depending which version of the tale you’re reading) from the Sleeping Beauty fairytale doesn’t have a name.   I don’t mind the reference, what I do mind, is that they take it a step further to link it to the Disney version by trying to incorporate the Disney design into their design.  And thus we get those ridiculous head ear/ horn purple mesh thingy’s.  In my house when we don’t know what something is, we call it a thingy, and that’s what Maleficent is wearing.

That was episode 2, in episode 4 we get a new fairy tale character not linked to Snow White, Cinderella.  Now don’t get me wrong, I loved this episode, even though, again, it blatantly references Disney.  Firstly, Ella gets a blue ball gown!  It’s like a more sensible less fluffy version than Disney, but it’s a Disney reference.  Followed by the hair!  I can’t believe they gave her poufy hair that imitates the Disney hairstyle.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, and maybe I just find the hairstyle horrible and unflattering to the actress who has a really sweet face, but I definitely see a Disney reference.  Also, another Prince Charming, shame that is like the default name for every fairytale prince, but at least he gets a name and personality as well.

Episode 5 was a Jiminy Cricket story, and I absolutely loved it.  It showed me that the writers are capable of using the fairytales as guidelines and creating new stories to flesh out characters.  In this episode Archie Hopper/ Jiminy Cricket becomes the person he wants to be in the ‘real’ world, while we get flashbacks of his life in the enchanted world.  He had terrible parents, marvellously evil, apathetic characters.  What’s nice is that the end of Jiminy Crickets origin story then links up to the Pinocchio tale in quite a poignant and original way.

That’s all that’s been released of OUaT so far, and I’m looking forward to the rest, but even now I am disappointed again.  A spoiler was released for a future episode which deals with Beauty and the Beast, a fairytale that I love, and what do we get, but a photo of Bell in Disney’s yellow poufy dress!  I actually hate that dress.  There have been tonnes of other adaption’s of Beauty and the Beast, with stunning dresses, why, why, why the yellow one?  I like the idea of Bell in blue.  Other than my gripe with the dress, I’m really excited about this episode, like what will the beast look like and whose going to play him, what kind of Bell will Emilie de Ravin (Claire in Lost) make, and what on earth is Bell doing talking to Rumpelstiltskin?

I have no objection to Disney references, such as the Tinker Bell wind charm, of Doctor Hopper’s dog being a Dalmatian called Pongo (which is pure Disney, 101 Dalmatians is not a classic fairytale, but a novel written in 1956 by Dodie Smith) or the little Minnie Mouse in Mister Gold’s pawn shop, it’s the blatantly huge ones, the ones that they use to define characters with.  It was suggested that not everyone knows the non-Disney versions of fairytales, that they use the Disney version so that people can more easily identify fairytale characters.  I both agree and disagree with this idea, the fairytales have other signifiers that make the story identifiable to the viewer, as Rumpelstiltskin said to Cinderella when asked about the glass slippers:  ‘Every story needs a memorable detail’.  We don’t need the Disney look to make people recognise which fairytale their watching.  Also, growing up, I watched and read multiple versions of fairytales, many of them not even remotely similar in aesthetic to Disney.

Mirror, Mirror

Wow isn’t this great, Mirror Mirror’s Trailer released too!  Now I can compare both Snow White trailers! 🙂  Firstly, wow, great sets and costumes, Lily Collins looks more like your typical Snow White, as opposed to Kristen Stewart, but then maybe it’s because we actually get to see what kind of a character Mirror Mirror’s Snow White is.  Mirror Mirror looks like a dark comedy that’s more surreal and ridiculous than Snow White and the Huntsman.  We also get two different kinds of evil queen, I like both Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron’s portrayals of the Queen, but I’d say Charlize is the more evil of the two. Actually I dont think Julia Robert has an evil or mean bone in her body, I dont think her face is even capable of sneering. Now that I think about it, she’s just so CUTE in the trailer, especially the crinckels scene, it was adorable.

The movie looks fantastic, the scene with the puppy love was hysterical……………….(I’m pretty sure I’ve come across that gag somewhere before).  Mirror Mirror has Julia Roberts and Nathan Lane, both of whom I love, and who look absolutely hysterical in this trailer, and Snow White seems to have more spine than the Disney version.  Ever watch the Hallmark Snow White movie, with Kristin Kreuk?  That was a really good adaption too.

On a random side note, the editing of this trailer was brilliant!