Tag Archives: Charlize Theron

The ‘fairer’ Snow White film of the year.

https://i2.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3624717/140full.jpg“I shall give this wretched world the queen it deserves.”

2012 has featured the release of two live-action adaptations of the Grimms fairytale, with Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror and Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman. I rather hated the hell out of Mirror Mirror due to it’s ridiculously cheesy approach to the fairytale. Snow White and the Huntsman is the complete opposite to that film – this is a dark, gritty, and even violent re-imagining of the beloved tale. The verdict is in – Snow White and the Huntsman is far more superior film to Mirror Mirror. This the first feature film from commercials director Rupert Sanders, and he’s handled this big budget blockbuster with technique and skill. The most notable change to the original story is the character of the Huntsman – he’s given a bigger part in this film. There are many things one could nitpick about, particularly with the screenplay, but Snow White and the Huntsman manages to grab your interest from the get-go, and it is without a doubt, the fairer Snow White adaptation of the year.

Snow White, the young princess of Tabor, is imprisoned in a tower after her father’s kingdom is overthrown by the evil Ravenna (Charlize Theron). Years later, Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart) escapes her prison just as Ravenna, who is now queen, learns from her Magic Mirror that Snow White’s heart is the source for her immortality. Evading capture from the queen’s guards, Snow White escapes into the dark forest, a place where no-one comes out alive. The Evil Queen enlists the help of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White. However, the Huntsman ends up siding with the fugitive when he comes face to face with her, and the two set out to overthrow Ravenna. Meanwhile, Snow White’s childhood friend William (Sam Claflin) sets out to find her after he learns that she is alive.

Written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini, the screenplay is riveting for the most of the film. Like I said earlier, this is a hugely different re-imagining of Snow White than we’re used to. The writers really embraced the grit, and threw in all kinds of dark and spooky elements. The queen in particular is beautifully characterised villain. You get the sense that this evil queen was actually a human being at one point, and now she’s a complete monster. This is achieved through actual establishment of the character – we see flashbacks from her past, and the relationship with her evil brother (played by Sam Spruell) is also established well. Snow White also has been written well, though this is a totally different Snow White to the one we’re used to. In the film, she’s a ‘chosen one’ type character – throughout the land, many believe she is destined to overthrow the queen. What’s terrific is you actually get a feel that Snow White and Ravenna were complete opposites – they were true rivals who had to fight at the end no matter what. Last but not least, the Huntsman is a terrific love interest – it’s a nice twist on the classic tale.

This brings me to the flaws of the screenplay – the love triangle. The inclusion of the character William was a truly unnecessary decision. He got in the way of the developing the relationship between Snow White and the Huntsman – to be honest, their relationship could’ve been stretched out a lot more. There also doesn’t seem to be any purpose for the love triangle. There’s no conflict between William and the Huntsman, and William himself isn’t the most interesting of characters – he’s actually the most insipid of the film. Another qualm I had with Snow White and the Huntsman is the pacing, particularly around the middle act of the film as Snow White and her companion are evading capture from the Queen’s men. It felt tedious around this part in the film – nothing seems to happen, and the plot doesn’t go anywhere. The queen is also off-screen for far too long. Still, the story kicks right in once we see a surprisingly effective twist on the poisonous apple and the spell-breaking kiss. The introduction of the dwarves also livens up the mood of the film, as they’re pretty much the only source of humour. These characters are simply hilarious, and again, the writers added a nice gritty attitude to the characterisation of them – they’re not the most pleasant of dwarves.

I think it’s a no-brainer when I say this – Charlize Theron stole the show. She was hot as always, but she really brought the villainy to this role. Theron has so much range, and I’m still waiting for the day where she delivers a bad performance. Like all good actors, Theron works with the script to make sure her character has depth and is convincing, and through her, we can see the humanity Ravenna once had. This is the first time in a while where she’s played a truly evil villain, but she pulls it off with so much skill. If there’s one thing that can carry a film, it’s a good villain, and she definitely delivered on her part. While all the other actors are almost always upstaged by Theron, they still bring solid performances to the film. Kristen Stewart gets a lot of hate for her role in the Twilight films. I personally am a fan, and while she struggles with her accent from time to time, Stewart delivered the vulnerability and fierceness of her character beautifully. Chris Hemsworth is also good value as the Huntsman, showing that he can deliver great performances outside the Marvel films. His Scottish accent was also perfect, and suited the gritty tone of his character. The dwarves were all sensational, played by well-known British performers such as Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, and Nick Frost. All deliver a solid performances of their mischievous characters. Sam Claflin did get on my nerves from time to time as William – he just doesn’t seem to be trying. Maybe it was his character, but so far, nothing he’s done has been that amazing. Remember Pirates 4?)

On the technical side, Snow White and the Huntsman is a masterpiece. This film is absolutely riveting when it comes to the visuals. With superb creature design, the visual effects used to create all the mythical creatures is amazing. There are trolls, trees that turn snakes, and at one point in the film, the characters stumble upon a beautiful garden called Sanctuary – the visuals alone in this location make it a joyous watch. With luscious cinematography by Greig Fraser, this is definitely one of the most visually stunning films of the year so far. Sanders also uses his visual effects creatively when it comes to the Evil Queen. She transforms into a flock of ravens, engulfs herself in flames, bathes herself in a white liquid – all the effects done with the Queen always have a great combination of spooky and exhilarating. What’s also mind-blowing is the make-up done on Theron – throughout the film, the Queen actually grows older, and it’s a really cool effect. The production design is top rate, and again, all is shot beautifully by Fraser. Sanders shows that he has an eye for beauty – Snow White and the Huntsman always manages to impress on this aspect. What really surprised me is how much action there is in the film. There are a lot of action sequences here, and although some are quite short, the spectacle of them is magnificent. Sanders stages some really exciting set-pieces, particularly the climatic raid on the evil Queen’s castle, and all this is assisted by James Newton Howard’s epic score. The costumes by Colleen Atwood are worthy of an Oscar, with Snow White’s armour she wears at the climax being huge favourite of mine – Stewart looks like a total badass when she dons it.

Snow White and the Huntsman is a must-see in my opinion, and it’s a promising debut from Sanders. With a standout performance from Charlize Theron, who may prove to be the best villain of year, and a beautiful visual style, this re-imagining delivers, and you’re better off seeing this than Mirror Mirror. What I find extremely strange is a sequel is already being planned – what could they continue on with? Something tells me the love triangle will have more of a place in the sequel, but if it ends up like Twilight… oh dear.

8/10

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For once, a deep and complex summer movie.

https://i0.wp.com/i2.listal.com/image/3734190/140full.jpg  “If we don’t stop it, there won’t be any home to go back to!”

2012 has been a great year for movies, particularly during the summer. Summer blockbusters have always been about the spectacle, and that’s perfectly fine with me. The Avengers delivered on what it promised – an entertaining and visually exhilarating ride. It started off the summer season with a bang (it garnered critical acclaim and has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide so far, making it the third highest grossing film ever), and now Ridley Scott’s long-awaited Alien prequel finally hits movie theaters all around the world. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Prometheus, as it marks Scott’s return to the film that started his successful career. I was excited, and even though I didn’t love the first Alien film quite like everyone else, seeing a sci-fi epic directed by Scott was something anyone, regardless if they saw Alien, would want to see. Having seen it now, in IMAX 3D, I can say that it literally blew me away. It definitely lived up to the hype, and even exceeded my expectations.

In 2089 on the Isle of Skye, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover cave paintings identical to those already discovered in many different parts of the world – they depict a man reaching out to a strange constellation of stars. Three years later Shaw and Holloway are among the crew of Scientific Exploratory Vessel Prometheus, heading for the planet closest to the stars depicted in the drawings. Also on board are Captain Janek (Idris Elba), the powerful representative of Weyland Corp, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and David (Michael Fassbender), an all-intelligent android. Prometheus lands on the planet, and in a vast cavern the scientists make some strange, unsettling, discoveries.

Scripted by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, Prometheus is filled with subtle throwbacks to Alien. It really expands on the Alien lore and concepts – I was quite annoyed that I never re-watched the first Alien film when I came out of this movie because you get more out of it if you do. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie to this franchise, there’s still so much complexity you can appreciate from the film. It’s a truly deep plot Scott has going on his latest blockbuster, with themes of religion and our origins, and these link together beautifully. There are questions raised in the film about our makers, and like most films with a philosophical edge, these questions are never answered (it should be kept that way in my opinion). The film also follows a classic line of events, as the crew’s situation just gets worse and worse. Scott and his writers really tried to create a reminiscent structure to Alien, and he succeeded with that. My only criticism with script is character – there’s not a great deal of it than you’d expect. While the heroine, Elizabeth Shaw, is fairly well established and developed, some of the other characters aren’t. There’s no tension between some of them even though there should be, and times it fails to develop some members of the crew and even elements of story. Vickers in particular is established beautifully, but her character never has a chance to develop. The same goes with David. I don’t mind this as much as most movie-goers probably will, but it’s definitely a flaw in the film.

Prometheus always manages to keep you on the edge of your seat though. At the heart of it, it is a horror movie just like Alien. The film includes a dozen of unforgettable sequences – to be honest, every moment of the film is memorable. There are moments of gore, which definitely delivers on gruesomeness. A truly terrifyingly marvelous features Shaw performing abdominal surgery on herself. Expect a lot of blood. Also pretty spectacular was the climax – definitely the best sequence of I’ve seen all year so far. Holy shit, that got my heart pumping. From the moment it begins, you are tense and it won’t stop til the ending of the film.

Scott has a remarkable cast to work with, though some are kind of wasted on their weak characters. Noomi Rapace is awesome, making a big name for herself in Hollywood after the Swedish adaptation of the Millenium trilogy and starring in the Sherlock Holmes sequel. She’s fantastic in the role of Shaw, and provided the emotion and physique to pull off some truly unbelievable scenes. She’s one to watch, I can tell you that. Logan Marshall-Green is exceptional as Holloway, delivering on the desperate attitude of his character. Michael Fassbender meanwhile is a show stealer. He adopts a more different approach to playing the android as opposed to actors cast in this kind of role in previous Alien films. Fassbender goes for eerie feel with his portrayal of David, and it actually works really well, making the audience suspicious about his true agenda. Likewise, Charlize Theron also had a suspicious feel in her acting here, and it definitely allowed her to be an effective character. It’s a shame her character wasn’t developed enough, as Vickers was actually really interesting. Still Theron was excellent, and my god, she is fine as hell (anyone who follows my reviews will know I almost always say something like that :P). Guy Pearce makes a brief appearance in this under heavy make-up as Weyland, and his practically unrecognisable. Idris Elba is also superb as the captain, but his character, like many, is never fully developed towards the end.

The spectacle of Prometheus is one of the film’s strongest points. Scott is no stranger to working with a grand budget, and he always manages to work with it and create a visually terrific blockbuster. Everything about Prometheus looks beautiful. Shot by one of my favourite cinematographers, Dariusz Wolski, the film has rich, dark look, and it all falls into the place with eerie sets. The planet that the crew lands on is full of danger and death, and the film created this perfectly. The visual effects are top rate through out and definitely the best I’ve seen all year (yes, even better than The Avengers). The design of ship, Prometheus, is actually quite stunning, and the production design on the interior is superb – the space suits the crew wear look pretty awesome to me. While the score isn’t that memorable, it did add to the tension of the film, and the creature designs are just frightening. If you’re a fan of scary aliens, you’re in for a treat, as Prometheus features an array of shocking things that will have you jumping in your seat. I saw this in IMAX 3D, and while the 3D isn’t amazing (I was surprised considering it was shot in the format), it didn’t ruin anything for me, and was implemented well at times, particularly the climax. Scott stages some pretty spectacular action sequences that actually have a real sense of tension to it – it’s not just eye-candy, there is true suspense at work in Prometheus.

Yes, I have issues with the characters in the screenplay, but I still love this film. Prometheus is probably the first blockbuster with a complex narrative to be released this year. It’s rich with subtle themes and references, and the cast is fantastic. After watching this, it made want to watch the Alien series all over again, and that’s definitely a good sign. Once I’ve finished with them, you expect me in the cinema watching this another time. Yes, it’s that fucking good.

10/10

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