"Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012)

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Running time: 127 minutes

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was actually rather looking forward to this movie. And it wasn’t just the epic scale battles and interesting visuals that drew me in; it was the way in which Charlize Theron chuckles at the end of the trailer that got me. That laugh, that little confident laugh, sent chills up my spine every time I heard it in the lead up to the film’s release and it made me so hopeful that Snow White and the Huntsman was going to be a proper reimagining of a classic fairy-tale. That it would take the romantic, adventurous story that we knew in our youth and make it balls-out unnerving and terrifying.

Well, they half got it right…

Now Showing this week is Snow White and the Huntman, directed by Rupert Sanders. This gothic remake of the Snow White story tells the tale of an evil Queen (Charlize Theron) who, after killing the king and usurping the throne, wishes to live forever and remain young. After many years of draining the life from the young and beautiful, the Queen learns from her magic mirror that there is now a girl more beautiful (or “fairer”) than she and that this girl can destroy her immortality, but if she is consumed by the Queen than the Queen will live forever without the need to feed on the young. This girl is her step-daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart). The Queen orders her to be brought to her but she escapes, and the Queen orders a drunken Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to hunt her down. But once meeting her, the Huntsman’s allegiance begins to shift.

If I say any more than that I’m really explaining the entire film. Now I personally cannot remember too much of the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarves story to know how much they have changed plot-wise, however I do not recall there being any Lord of the Rings-esque battle scenes so I suppose that’s the most obvious difference. But all the other aspects of the story I do remember were present: the apple, the dwarves, the Huntsman, the magic mirror etc. But unfortunately the way in which they have presented the story does lead it to have a plot hole or two. The most glaring one for me was the stuff with the apple which happens maybe two thirds of the way in. Without saying too much, it involves the Queen basically teleporting to exactly where Snow White is hiding and tricking her; which lead me to think why didn’t she do that earlier? If she could be at her side whenever she wanted to, why not just do that, absorb her and be done with it? Oh that’s right, that would be a very short and crappy movie!

One positive thing I will say about this film was the visual effects and design. The quality of the CGI was amazing, with so many monsters, glass warriors, gas induced spectres and very excellently portrayed dwarves. The dwarves were a highlight, as they were all actors I recognised, and was fully aware of their real stature, and yet one cannot imagine how they filmed it without them actually being dwarf sized. Not since Lord of the Ringshave I seen forced perspective this good. The visual design really captured the bleak, gothic tone of the film. It was like Tim Burton visual design only without the stupid head re-adjustments. Suffice to say, the film was never boring to look at.

Now, I know the question that you are all probably dying to ask is whether or not Kristen Stewart’s facial expression is the same throughout the entire film. Well, I am quite pleased to say that while she did seem to maintain her usual face of blankness, I did in fact see her upper facial muscles move on no less than two occasions! Once when she drugged out of her mind and she had wide eyes and high eyebrows, and the second time I saw her raise one eyebrow in curiosity. Both moments were merely for a second each, if you blinked you would have missed them, but they were there. It is however a testament to the film that I was actually able to notice this and that it stood out for me.

In terms of the other characters, the acting was pretty good. Chris Hemsworth did a good job as the Huntsman, sporting a rather enjoyable Northern/Scottish accent. The only problem I had with the Huntsman was that he didn’t look right when we was fighting legions of bad guys which I soon realised was because Hemsworth has hit his bad-ass peak by playing Thor in The Avengers! Seeing him with any less power just looked wrong to me. And as for the Queen, for the most part Charlize Theron performed excellently, really selling the scary, aged yet youthful, bitter monarch. However, there were a few times (far too many!) where she would drop all her menace and simply start screaming at people. And as soon as she did that I instantly switched off as it wasn’t interesting. Take notes people, reserved menace is always more effective than full blown screaming.

All in all, Snow White and the Huntsman is by no means a bad film. I enjoyed watching it, there was plenty going on for me to be enjoying; however with the few plot holes and minor acting issues I wouldn’t be able to say it was a great film with a straight face. Worth a look though if you’re into gothic fairy-tales. See you next time!

Advertisements

"The Lucky One" (2012)

The Lucky One (2012)
Directed by: Scott Hicks
Running time: 101 minutes

Alright, I’m going to be honest here and admit that I went into The Lucky One with a large sense of apprehension given (as the poster exclaims) that it is the film adaptation of a novel written by the same writer who wrote the novel “The Notebook” which also had a film adaptation. And as any of my regular readers will already know, The Notebook was just unbelievably terrible. So we weren’t off to a good start here, but I thought I would try my best to let that last atrocity slide and go into The Lucky One with an open mind.

I must say, that mentality initially paid off.

Now Showing this week is The Lucky One, directed by Scott Hicks. The film revolves around an American soldier in Iraq named Logan (Zac Efron) who after a “night raid” spots a photograph lying in some rubble. He wanders over to pick it up, and amazingly then far enough out of a sudden mortar’s blast radius to be the sole survivor of his squad. The photograph is of a woman he doesn’t know (her name is Beth, played by Taylor Schilling), but he sees this incident as sign that she is his guardian angel. No one claims the photograph, so he keeps it for himself for the rest of his tour in Iraq. Once he leaves Iraq, he sets off to go find the woman in the picture, to thank her for saving his life, but upon meeting her he falls head over heels in love and endeavours for her to feel the same.

As much as it surprises me, I did enjoy The Lucky One as a whole. I know that sounds crazy, but I did. The two leads were kind of cute together, as is Logan’s relationship with Beth’s son, and that is always a plus when it comes to romance stories. It’s why WALL-E was such a masterpiece. The way the film established that Logan has travelled very far to find Beth, and if their relationship crumbles than he is literally left with nothing, was an effective way to make me care a little bit about the outcome of the film. So you know, well done to them there.

However…

There were just so many aspects of the film that were just predictable and/or cliched. And I know that I have argued that cliches aren’t always a bad thing but they were just the same tired old elements in this film. Example, Beth has an ex husband. And guess what? He’s the sheriff of the town and has jealousy issues. Sound familiar? It’s every single ex-husband character ever in these “chick-flick” movies. Also, Beth works in a dog kennel that she runs out of her own home, so the whole film has this feeling that it’s trying to win us over with all the cute pets to distract us from everything else. OK, maybe I’m clutching at straws there but it did feel a little bit cheesy.

The films also contained some inconsistencies that bugged me a little. The biggest example that I can think of is that after Logan returns home from his Iraq tour, there are some scenes where he is shown to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after his experiences in the war. He drops things at the slightest noise similar to gun fire or an explosion; he almost throttles one of his nephews when he wakes him up in the morning etc. but then that kind of just stops and is never heard from again in the film. I don’t know about you, but PTSD is a pretty hard thing to get over and it really would have created some awesome dramatic tension between him and Beth throughout the film if they thought he was unbalanced.

So while I enjoyed The Lucky One for what it was (I’m not completely heartless!), I feel that there was a better story that could have been told with similar circumstances. I think we should have stayed with Logan on his tour in Iraq, and have a romance plot line but one of the couple (the woman in the photograph) wasn’t actually in the film! Then we’d have a love story where the person the man is in love with is whatever he has projected onto this photograph. Her name, where she’s from, what she likes, they would all be the mental projections of a lonely soldier. And then perhaps he could go find her at the end of the story, and she’s nothing like he imagined and we could leave it on a little tragedy there. Wouldn’t that be awesome? It would be like Cast Away but instead of a Fed-Ex box we’d have a photograph of a hot blonde! I’d go see that!

See you next time!