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Snow White and the Huntsman: Dark Twist on Classic Tale
Ravenna (Theron) tricks Snow White’s (Stewart) father, the king, marries him, kills him and takes over his kingdom. As the result of a spell cast upon her at childhood, she sucks the youth out of beautiful women so she can stay young and pretty forever. She then uses this beauty to grab as much power as she can. Foreseeing a day in which Snow White’s beauty would make her immortal, she locks the girl up in a tower. Years pass and the time has come for Snow White to be of use to the queen, however she manages to escape into the dark forest bordering the kingdom. The queen sends the Huntsman (Hemsworth) to bring her back but he instead turns rogue and pledges to help Snow White cross the forest and reach the rebel stronghold where they can assemble an army to take on the queen and her minions.
The thing about this story is that so much of it has been changed that it’s essentially become a Lord of The Rings-esque film. But while the filmmakers were busy making everything darker and more epic, they forgot to give Snow White a personality. Rooting for a character just because she’s pretty and fairies like her is too much to ask of an audience. Besides, throughout the entire film she’s more of a run-as-fast-as-you-can type of girl - she’s no wilting flower but she’s not a fighter either. Suddenly though during the last act, she’s decked out in full armour, wielding a sword and heading into battle. She’s a blank slate and Stewart doesn’t give her even a tiny sliver of spirit.
We’d heard people, before the film came out, complaining about how Stewart was miscast because there’s no way she’d ever be considered prettier than Theron. This is actually the least of the film’s problems, especially considering that the film keeps emphasising that everyone loves Snow White for her beauty and spirit without showing us any evidence of the latter.
Theron’s performance is fine. She’s consistently dramatic, evil and over the top, but it’s just not the scenery chewing performance that the trailers had led us to expect. All in all, Theron’s Ravenna is far more interesting than Stewart’s Snow White, but Hemsworth’s Huntsman tops them both. He gives the best performance of the film, is the only one we emotionally connect with and, as a result, is the most watchable character. The only downside is that in the film’s love triangle, the Huntsman seems too good for Snow White who’s more in line with William (Claflin), the ‘Prince Charming’ character who’s even more vacant than Stewart is.
The visuals save this film from being completely ordinary and it’s here where the attempt to turn the fairy tale into a fantasy epic really shines. The trolls, dwarves, fairies and magical armies all look spectacular. Theron’s aging effects are truly creepy and so is the dark forest which, with its bugs, serpents and barren trees, is basically death on screen.
It’s an interesting take on the fairy tale and the detours that the film takes from the traditional narrative work really well. But while the general atmosphere is as far as you can possibly get from the Disney version, it’s a shame that the main character isn’t. While she doesn’t pine continuously for a prince, the general everybody-loves-her-because-she’s-pretty essence is still intact and it’s just too Disney for a film that tries to be a gritty epic.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.