6.26.2012

Who is the fairest of them all?

Snow White? Snow WHITES? TWO Snow Whites?? If my niece Mckinlie knew about this she'd be awfully confused. I'm of course talking about the TWO cinematic live action Snow White adaptations to grace the screen this year within months of one another. I'm really not sure why filmmakers were clamoring at the bit to adapt this particular fairy tale to the big screen twice in the same year and unfortunately neither one completely hit the mark. That's not to say they didn't both have their definite strengths. So which one is superior? Well there's only one way to settle which one is the best of the best...and that's by putting the two movies against each other in every single aspect I can think of. So let's start with the two Snow Whites themselves.


SNOW WHITE: The relatively unknown actress Lily Collins (daughter of Phil.) vs. K-Stew of Twilight fame. Now it's not that Stewart did a bad job or anything...she was surprisingly decent with what was given to her...but the problem was that not much was given to her. As a result, she was a far more blah character than everyone else in her film. Collins on the other hand was given real character development. You can see how she changes from an innocent, naive princess to a strong, determined woman willing to fight for her kingdom. Stewart on the other hand was already a warrior right from the get-go which is a bit unbelievable having been locked in a tower her whole life. I liked in Mirror Mirror the montage of her struggling to learn how to defend herself. Much more believable. Also lookswise I just felt like Collins much more embodied the role of Snow White. Stewart looked fine, but she just has a modern look about her....not the princess from a fairy tale look it takes to pull the role off. WINNER: Collins. Mirror Mirror



EVIL QUEEN: Charlize Theron vs. Julia Roberts. Okay first let me say that I do believe Julia Roberts was miscast for the role of the Queen. However she really had a blast with the part and played the role wonderfully and incredibly humorously for the movie she was in. It worked. It maybe could have been darker or could have been better...but it worked for the tone of the movie she was in. That said....Charlize Theron was absolutely incredible in this role. She was honestly terrifying and was definitely the best part of Snow White and the Huntsman. Without her the movie would not have worked, so I think I most definitely have to give this round to her. WINNER: Theron. Snow White and the Huntsman


HENCHMAN: One of the ugliest, creepiest pumpkin pie haircutted freaks I've ever seen in my life (thanks for that one Dumb & Dumber) vs. Nathan Lane. One is almost the epitome of the word creeper and the other is great comic relief. Seriously Nathan Lane gets away with quite a few of my favorite lines in Mirror Mirror. ("She lived she died, there will be a buffet at 2!") Like the last category this one is really apples and oranges and both fit the movie they were in. However, unlike my queens, I prefer my henchmen humorous than outright villainous. therefore the WINNER: Nathan Lane. Mirror Mirror.

LOVE INTEREST: Chris Hemsworth vs. Armie Hammer. So we've got hunky and brooding up against hot and hilarious (and also incredibly sweet). Can you say win win win? Really I have a huge crush on both of these actors and both played their parts incredibly well for the movies they were in. Hemsworth had a lot of charisma and was the best part of all the scenes he was in and Hammer was adorable AND had great comic timing. Both actors brought a lot to their films and I can't really pick between them I just love them both! WINNER: Draw.


LOVE STORY: No contest here really. All Hemsworth and K-Stew shared was an unconscious kiss (only ONE kiss and she's passed out during it!?) and a few throwaway glances. Collins and Hammer had some really sweet moments and nice little chemistry. Not that Hemsworth and K-Stew couldn't have if the script would have allowed for it....but for some reason it really didn't. No confrontation after the lame unconscious kiss...no nothing. I could have done with even more moments between Collins and Hammer too, but what they did have was really nice and they made a cute little couple. WINNER: Collins and Hammer. Mirror Mirror



DWARVES & SNOW WHITE DYNAMIC: By the time the dwarves made their appearance in Snow White and the Huntsman I practically forgot there were even dwarves in the story! I think this was really detrimental to this aspect of the fairy tale and there was much more of a memorable rapport between Snow, the prince and the dwarves in Mirror Mirror as opposed to Snow White and the Huntsman. I really can only remember that there was some clairvoyant dwarf in Huntsman. Other than that I remember nothing. I guess they seemed enamored of K-Stew...but I don't think to the same intimate, friendly level that was seen in Mirror Mirror. This is also supported by the fact that I couldn't find any pics of K-Stew with the dwarfs on google..WINNER: Mirror Mirror

TONE: Again...apples and oranges. On the one hand we have silly, almost slapstick type humor in a fairy tale setting against the realism of the darkness of an evil ruler. Snow White and the Huntsman was definitely more on the Grimm side of fairytales in this one. Both were good for what they were, but for me humor does go a long way. So the edge to Mirror. WINNER: Mirror Mirror.




COSTUMES: This one is a toughie. I feel like ALL the costumes in Mirror are just top notch. From the Queen to Snow White to the extras everything looks pretty whimsical and fairytaley. In Huntsman it's a much different story. The Queen's wardrobe is breathtakingly exquisite and just downright incredible. Everything else? Pretty forgettable. So for ALL the costumes maybe Mirror, but JUST the Queen's? Huntsman. Therefore I say the entire category is just a draw. WINNER: Draw. 

SET DESIGN: Both set designs here were really excellent for the tone each film was going for. Mirror Mirror felt more fairy tale land while Snow White and the Huntsman was definitely rooted more in reality. I really really liked the look of Huntsman and found it captivating, but since it's a fairy tale it's based on I'd rather see it look more like a fairy tale...so i give the slightest edge then to Mirror Mirror. WINNER: Mirror Mirror.


CASTLE: Okay is it weird I wanna take the castle from Snow White and the Huntsman and put it in the location where the castle from Mirror Mirror stood? I liked the pristine look of the castle in Mirror, but would prefer it look more like the classical castle of Snow White and the Huntsman. I do enjoy it's gritty look too which works for its movie...and I like how it lies on the beach. Kind of reminds me of Le Mount St. Michel. WINNER: I give the edge to Snow White and the Huntsman




FOREST: Haha okay this is a weird one I know and is a subdivision really of the set design, just like the castle category was... But this was one area that I really enjoyed of Snow White and the Huntsman. The creepy areas were terrifying and the magical areas were \wondrous. Mirror Mirror had a really hard time comparing to that and keeping up with that magic. WINNER: Snow White and the Huntsman


MIRROR: Both interpretations of the mirror were pretty darn wacky. In Mirror Mirror it was just an emotionless version of Julia Roberts talking back to herself. In Huntsman it was some...silvery being. Never was really clear on that. While the Mirror Mirror thing was interesting visually, I didn't really care for that interpretation at all. WINNER: Snow White and the Huntsman.

WEIRD/RANDOM/UNNECESSARY TAGENT... OR...ELEMENT THAT JUST TAKES YOU OUT OF THE MOVIE: Like I said, both movies had something that kept me out of it or kept me from completely being on-board. For Snow White and the Huntsman it's a sequence in the land of the fairies...that while beautiful (until you see the actual fairies...) feels completely thrown in and pointless when you think about it afterwards. With Mirror Mirror some of Julia Roberts communications with the mirror and actions resulting because of it are a bit weird, and the special effects near the end look just terrible. That really takes you out of it, even when the plot line that goes along with it is fine enough. WINNER: well there are no winners here. It's a draw.

LENGTH/PACING: In the beginning both flowed really well and were very entertaining and captivating. However I'm afraid I've lost most of my patience for medieval-esque battle scenes anymore....so Huntsman did lose a little of my interest near the end. Anytime I know there's a battle coming in a movie I get a little bored because I've seen it all before, and better in Lord of the Rings. It also doesn't help that it's about 20 minutes longer than the tightly edited Mirror Mirror. WINNER: Mirror Mirror.


STORY: Both films took their liberties with the familiar fairy tale...so which had a better take? Or rather which take was less offensive? haha. Snow White and the Huntsman gave an interesting backstory to the Queen and changed it so that Snow ends up with a huntsman rather than a prince. Mirror Mirror  SPOILERS never has Snow going unconscious and has her free HIM from a spell with a kiss rather than the other way around. Also the dwarves here are thieves. But everything else seems pretty well the same to how most people think of the tale. WINNER: Draw. I thought the additions to Huntsman were interesting enough and didn't detract, and I had no problem with Mirror Mirror either.

ULTIMATE WINNER: I think it's obvious I slightly preferred Mirror Mirror as it claimed 11 categories to Huntsman's 7. I don't know, its brand of humor just completely worked for me and I thought it was a sweet little rendition of the tale and just fun...even if it isn't perfect. And it does have fairy tale written all over it. What WOULD be perfect?? The ULTIMATE version would have been this: Lily Collins as Snow White with Charlize Theron as her evil stepmother. Armie Hammer as the Prince and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. Oh yeah....one hot love interest? TWO HOT LOVE INTERESTS?? The roles need not compete since one is a prince and one a huntsman...then she will just have to make the hardest choice anyone would ever have to make in the history of mankind (Sophie's Choice is nothin.) Sounds perfect to me :)

MUCH better love triangle. (K-Stew's third point to her triangle was pretty much forgettable. Oh yeah we're supposed to believe this guy goes up against Thor? Please.)

6.17.2012

Crazy Old Nicholas Sparks. He's always good for a laugh...

Once upon a time, the year 2004 to be exact... a movie came out that would change the romance genre forever. The movie? The Nicholas Sparks' adaptation The Notebook. But let's get one thing straight....when I say "it changed things forever" I don't mean it changed things for the better. Sure there was Message In A Bottle (which I have not seen...but it is a terrible admission that I've seen every other crap film on his resume..) and A Walk To Remember (which is probably the most decent of the bunch..) which preceded it and certainly added to Spark's momentum as a force in Hollywood...but it was The Notebook that really fooled the masses into thinking Sparks was a good writer. And, as a result Hollywood has been churning out his lackluster romances ever since.

Gasp! Not The Notebook! She didn't insult THE NOTEBOOK!!! Are you really that surprised? Now don't get me wrong. I won't say that when I first saw it as a high schooler I didn't enjoy the movie as much as the next girl. If you embrace the melodrama and recognize it for what it is, it is a little bit fun and Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling certainly have a lot of chemistry to be sure. (Honestly though, way more into Gosling's looks now than then! Especially during his "younger" scenes.) But is it a great film or even a good film? No. And it certainly isn't the most beautiful, unforgettable love story of a generation. This is one of those prime examples of how I tend to hate things more over time when people refuse to acknowledge flaws and overly praise something. Like every other Sparks film it's pretty manipulative, schmaltzy and worst of all: cliched. His trite formula was bad enough with The Notebook and now he's repackaged it into the same movie 4 times since. Don't believe me? Here's proof:

 and now...
 I barely remember a thing about Nights in Rodanthe but Dear John and The Last Song were so "by the numbers" it was painful. Falling in love montage here, plot device keeping them away there, and now let's add in a death somewhere along the way to try and force the audience to actually feel something. Too bad we don't care because we can't get invested in these paper thin characters. So why am I writing this blog now? Well along comes the latest offering.....the Zac Efron starrer The Lucky One. And when I mean "comes along" I mean it came to the dollar theater. You better believe I don't pay full price for that crap anymore, but if I am bored enough I'll see almost anything when it comes to the dollar theater (ie The Vow and This Means War). So where does it rank along with the others? Well the only thing I can say in its favor that doesn't make it the worst of the lot is that at least it doesn't have Miley Cyrus in it. Otherwise it really might earn the title (then again the Dear John twist was pretty freaking bad too..) Oh and here's the other poster ripoffs too :)



Like his other films the "falling in love" montages were in full force and we really saw barely a hint of depth in either of them besides what anyone with half a brain could come up with and that we've seen a thousand times before.  The manufactured conflict was pretty much preposterous, whether it be his ridiculous dilemma in telling her the truth behind why he wanted to meet her (that no sane person would take offense at..) or her cartoonishly jealous ex-husband standing in the way of their happiness. He definitely made the movie more entertaining though since he actually provided comic relief...whether it was intentional or not. In fact his machinations towards the end pretty much had me holding in laughter that I suppressed up until I walked out of the theater...and then it alllllll came out. I don't know if I laughed that hard unintentionally since The Wicker Man. But hey, the movie DID have two things going for it: the fact that Zac Efron is hot and that he also looks like he's quite the kisser. So if that's the only thing you need from a movie, by all means see it...but don't say I didn't warn you if you find yourself dying laughing at a few of the signature Sparks plot twists towards the end....if you can even make it that far. 

But the best part of our dollar theater experience? Going to our row and seeing 3 girlfriendless dudes behind us who came to the movie with each other. As I walked to my seat I sarcastically said "So Zac Efron huh!?" They either thought that myself was a huge Efron fan, or they didn't appreciate me mocking them. Either way it didn't go over too well. Haha! Ah well. Boys at a Zac Efron movie, though humorous, isn't my ideal "meet cute " anyway haha! 

But back to Sparks. The dude is really so arrogant that his drivel deserves to be torn to pieces. With quotes in interviews that equate himself to the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen and Shakespeare all in the same breath as well as adding that currently “there are no authors in my genre. No one is doing what I do,” it's really hard not to think he is just some delusional hack. Even better? When asked what his favorite coming of age tale of all time was he told an interviewer that it was in fact his own work: A Walk To Remember, then after a moments paused felt like he should add To Kill A Mockingbird to its company. Gee how lucky we are to have this literary genius among us. And not to worry, our next Sparks adaptation is scheduled for next year. Anywho that's about all the ranting I can handle for now but if you're in the mood for some more ripping of Sparks, Cracked.com has a pretty good article on his works HERE

6.05.2012

Isn't It About..Time? My Top Ten (or Twelve) of 2011

As per usual I'm about six months behind schedule and I'm finally organizing my thoughts enough to compose my list of what were my ten favorite films of 2011. This was a really tough list to make and as I look at everything the conclusion I've come to was that there were a lot of GOOD movies that came out last year...but there weren't a ton of GREAT ones. So if you disagree and think I'm wrong in what I included it and how high it ranked, I'm not going to really be bothered in defending my view because I don't really care that much either. But I will say that these ten movies, (and I'm actually going to cheat and include a couple ties which brings it to 12.. ) I enjoyed above the rest and thought were worth my time.

10. TIE Midnight in Paris.  This movie contains beautiful scenery and a wonderful message. It takes place in one of my favorite cities in the entire world and it has a delightful plot. I feel like everyone is having a fabulous time in their parts...but for some reason as much as I admire this movie I still can't say I'm sure that I love it. It is very simplistic when it comes down to it and I don't know if I just can't get over my expectations that I wanted it to be a little more...I wanted it to blow me away. But still as it is, it is a very enjoyable and visually beautiful film and it has a lot of great things to say.

10. TIE Take Shelter. This film about a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown (or perhaps in the midst of one..), as he becomes preoccupied with building a storm shelter in his backyard, was absolutely fascinating all throughout. The performances were all spectacular here and the director did a great job of creating a constant doubt that the audience is never sure of what's really going on...what is reality and what isn't. I really enjoyed this...I just wish I knew a little more what to make of the ending. Then again sometimes ambiguous endings are half the fun of more serious films...where the audience gets more of a say of what they think happened...

9. Like CrazyOriginal review HERE. Another film I wanted to love but only ended up liking. This movie's setup was either completely lacking or completely spoiled by the trailer or both. Make me CARE about your characters and show me why they need to be together. Wait a minute why is it on the list then? Gosh, this list is starting to sound realllll negative. Okay, okay, let's get positive then. Well flawed as it is, I still do appreciate it's a more realistic approach to romance and the ending almost completely made up for all of its faults. The imagery was gorgeous and I think it had a lot of worthwhile things to say. So while it wasn't up to the standard of (500) Days of Summer, I would say it is still far above many Hollywood romances being put out today.

8. The Muppets. Original review HERE (well the first paragraph anyway..) Okay, I know that half of my family loved this and the other half wasn't all that impressed haha. But I really enjoyed this movie. Maybe it was seeing it with my nephew and really seeing his excitement to it, but I honestly was laughing and enjoying myself all throughout. I will admit that I can see that it already doesn't have the best re-watch factor as my second experience viewing it I definitely noticed the length a bit more. I've always thought the muppets were fun characters so for me I really thought their latest adventure was just some silly fun.

7. Moneyball. Original review HERE Let's get some things straight. I don't love baseball....and I HATE math. But somehow I found Moneyball to be fascinating... which is saying a lot. Maybe it's because Aaron Sorkin who helped write the Moneyball script also wrote The Social Network. The pacing of both films is incredibly similar and I was captivated by both. In addition to the script, it is Brad Pitt's surprisingly strong performance and his bro-chemistry with Jonah Hill that really makes the movie.

6. Super 8. Original review HERE Okay, it's kinda true that this movie doesn't really have an original thing going for it. But what I love is that it takes so many elements from other great films and still somehow makes it its own. The movie to me feels like a love letter to filmmaking as well as the art of popcorn flicks. I love the kids' passion and enthusiasm for their film and seeing it in the credits is probably the best part of the whole movie. The marketing really helped me to have no expectations and since I didn't know what to expect I just had a blast.

5. Bridesmaids. Original review HERE Like Super 8, this movie isn't really giving us anything we haven't seen before. But the WAY it's given somehow feels fresh and new. Kristen Wiig is a very talented comedic actress and she really makes the movie work. She really deserves the credit because the movie wouldn't work without her (and of course it is also worthy to note that Melissa McCarthy does give a pretty hilarious performance here too.) This movie is just incredibly funny and maybe I just love it a little bit more because I feel like sometimes lately Wiig's character's terrible life is my life too.

4. TIE The Artist. Original review HERE. I put this film with its tie because they just have so much in common. 2011 seemed to be the year of paying tribute to the cinema. And trust me I loved that. So much detail was put into this movie with EVERYTHING (but especially the period..) and it shows. It looks impeccable and it's really hard not to find the movie pretty likable. I wouldn't say it blew me away, but it really made me think of film as an art form and made me appreciate how far it has come.

4. TIE Hugo. Original review HERE. Yep. The other love letter to the movies. I honestly can't really decide which one I like better. The cinematography and imagery in this film are just spectacular. ESPECIALLY when viewing the film in 3D. I absolutely LOVED this movie when it became all about the cinema...the problem was the pacing before that that took so long to get us to that point. But for that second half I truly love it.

3. The Descendants. I loved this movie. It just worked for me. I found it heartbreaking and fascinating. I thought George Clooney's performance was real and honest. This movie had a lot of duality and showed the complexity that can arise from situations in life. The characters and situations seemed so real to me because we saw the full scope of them and how flawed the things and people really were. I honestly just thought this was a great portrait of a family's struggle.

2. Melancholia. Okay this movie is kinda ape shiz bizarre. But in a way that I CAN get behind unlike how I struggled with The Tree of Life. There's creativity in art and then sometimes I feel like there's art just for art's sake....and in a bad way (though I did feel that Tree of Life had its moments..) Melancholia was absolutely fascinating all throughout. I like that after it's weird little opening montage it starts with a sweet innocent scene giving you a first impression of its characters that it then completely turns upside down by the time the film is over. The movie is told in two perspectives and as each go on you really get a glimpse at who these people really are. But in the end, it still is only a glimpse and these mysteries stay with the viewer. I couldn't recommend it to many people, but I honestly thought it was completely fascinating.

And....



1. 50/50. Original review HERE. JGL you've done it again. 3 years in a row you feature in a movie that tops my list (and coincidentally the only years I've posted my top ten on this blog...because I've only had the blog that long ha.) This movie had it all for me. Characters I cared about, humor, drama, strong plot and actual meaning. Definitely one of the movies with the biggest heart on the list and for me, it was far and away above everything I saw last year. Congrats JGL. Perhaps with The Dark Knight Rises you just might pull a fourpeat.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: My Week With Marilyn (soooo close. if only the main character had actually LEARNED something this movie would be up there for sure.) Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Source Code, Martha Marcy May Marlene, X-men: First Class, Hanna, Horrible Bosses and Young Adult.