Category Archives: snow white

Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer ~ Fairy tales are hot in Hollywood right now. Whether it’s the two Snow White flicks last year, Hansel and Gretel with guns a few weeks back, or the hit TV series “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time,” or even the Fables comic books – fairy tales are big business. Now it’s Jack’s turn.

This weekend, The Bride and I saw Jack the Giant Slayer at the fabulously remodeled AMC Marlton 8 Theatre, and it wasn’t just the great reclining lounger seats that made for a great movie experience – the flick was pretty good too. The big budget CGI send up of the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ story had adventure, horror, romance, and even comedy. I might go so far as to say it reminded me a bit of The Princess Bride. Now let me be clear, it’s no Princess Bride, but it had all the hallmarks.

Bryan Singer’s take on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ is filled with CGI giants all in need of serious dental care and repair, and a fabulous cast of character actors. Ian McShane from “Deadwood” is excellent as the King, and Ewan McGregor as the protagonist who’s not the hero of this story is terrific. However, the leads are only adequate and the actors behind the CGI giants are pretty much unrecognizable. This doesn’t stop the flick from being enjoyable, despite the story’s simplicity and predictability. There are surprises, and that helps.

This is a great popcorn flick, moves quickly, never bores, and was the perfect film to test out a terrific new theater. Thumbs up all around.

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My Oscar Picks 2013

My opinion really doesn’t count for all that much this year as some personal issues have kept me from seeing many of the films this year, but folks expect to see my picks, so this year, I will choose by instinct and odds rather than any educated guesses. I still might get lucky. Here you go…

  • Best animated feature – Brave
  • Best animated short film – Paperman
  • Best visual effects – Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Best original screenplay – Django Unchained
  • Best original score, and song – Skyfall
  • Best costume design – Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Best direction – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actress – Sally Field for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actor – Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
  • Best actress – Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Best actor – Denzel Washington for Flight
  • Best picture – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Yep, that’s right. I’m predicting a complete shut out for Le Miz. Nothing against the flick, but that’s just how it played out as I picked category by category.

    What do you folks think?

    Not Your Average Disney Princess

    Brave ~ Disney/Pixar has done something with Brave that is extremely difficult to do in the age of the internet, and I’m glad they did. They managed to hide from audiences what this movie is all about. And that’s a good thing.

    At first glance, it is the latest of a long line (and a damn fine tradition, don’t get me wrong) of Disney Princess movies. The Princess Merida with her tangled scarlet locks, independent attitude, and Scottish bearing stood ready to become not only the latest, but probably one of the most popular of the Disney Princesses. In some cases, the DP is not a good role model or stereotype. The female protagonist is passive, waits for the prince to come and save her, save the day, and live happily ever after with. It’s tired in this age of enlightenment.

    Now there’s nothing wrong with that type of movie. In its time, stuff like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and even The Little Mermaid to an extent worked well and are wonderful stories. But this isn’t that kind of movie.

    Brave is about relationships. Chiefly about daughters’ relationships with their fathers, and mostly their mothers – and most importantly, mending those relationships. Now there are moments where Brave is predictable, and there are times when it’s madcap and sometimes it’s scary, but it is always entertaining, but just don’t expect your typical Disney Princess here.

    I’m not going to give anything away, much like Disney/Pixar’s marketing did not, and reasonably has not yet given anything away, but I loved this flick. Viva la difference! Recommended.

    The Black Cat

    The Black Cat ~ This 1934 film, ignoring the many others that use the same title (there have to be at least eight that I can think of, right off the top of my head), is the first onscreen meeting between Universal horror stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, the first of eight Universal horrors to feature them both.

    In a futuristic mansion built on the site of a World War I fortress, the two rivals engage in a battle of wits, chess (yes, chess), and torture, both physical and psychological. Caught in the middle are a newlywed couple, dropped into the conflict with circumstances almost hilariously similar to Brad and Janet’s in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And much like that film, horror and hilarity ensues, but without the musical numbers. Apparently, Boris tortured Bela on this site during the war, and Bela is back for vengeance. The houseguests, among others, are pawns in this game of cat and mouse.

    Boris Karloff’s Hjalmar Poelzig is a subtly sinister Satan-worshipping priest in the style of Aleister Crowley, but with the fashion sense of the wicked queen from Snow White and the Huntsman. It truly is a contest of ‘what will he wear next?’ in this flick. His height, and his physical presence, are much scarier than his calm demeanor, and the effect, for me at least, makes him seem even more frightening here than in his Frankenstein roles.

    Bela Lugosi makes a worthy opponent for Karloff here as Dr. Vitus Werdegast. Bela, more so than any other role I’ve seen him in, puts in a fabulous performance. In fact, he steals the film. I have always thought him to be an over-actor, relying on his accent to excuse him from any real work, but here he is really quite good. I was impressed.

    Also starring in this Universal horror is the house and stage set itself. Art deco was very popular in the 1930s and it was made into a starring character as the backdrop here. As the drama unwinds, even in the slow parts, one cannot help but marvel at the very expensive (for then) sets, a relic of a lost time in architecture.

    The film itself is supposedly based on the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name, or at least it is, according to the credits. Director Edgar G. Ulmer later admitted in an interview they used the title to get publicity for the movie. It should be mentioned this flick was quite violent for the time, went through several cuts, and was even banned in certain European countries. While the most successful Universal film of that year, this has become a mostly forgotten film, but definitely worth a watch for horror fans and film fans alike.

    Snow White and the Huntsman

    Snow White and the Huntsman ~ I was really unsure what to expect when I went to see this flick. What I did not expect was to be one of the few males in the audience. Much like when I saw Wolverine, this was a chick flick judging by the audience. I don’t want to be sexist, but I’m guessing it was all about Chris Hemsworth, especially based on the number of negative comments I heard leaving the theater by women angry that he did not take his shirt off. He was pretty good in the film although he didn’t really have much to do with Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart eating up the scenery the way they did.

    Theron rocks the house as Ravenna the Evil Queen in this reimagining of the Snow White story. This is her film, no doubt, even though it really should be Stewart’s or Hemsworth’s. And I know it’s early, but wait until Oscar time, I think we’ll see a nod for costumes and make-up for this flick. Charlize wears some outfits in this flick, she’s like Cher from hell. I loved it.

    Kristen Stewart is a major problem for me here. She’s never impressed me, even in the Twilight flicks where she is supposed to rule. My major problem here? The whole idea of the Queen asking the mirror who the prettiest, and the mirror picking Snow White over the Evil Queen. I don’t buy it even for a second. I’m not being subjective here, but there is just no way Stewart beats Theron in this movie in the looks department. It’s just not believable.

    I liked the dwarves, in that they were played by well-known actors. Cool to see Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, and Toby Jones among them. They were CGIed into dwarven bodies a la Lord of the Rings, which some of this movie resembles, and not in a good way. On the other hand, part of me kinda wishes however they would have gone with little people actors like they did in Mirror Mirror than doing it this way. Seems like they’re putting little people out of work, and in a worse light, it kinda feels like white folks putting on black face, ya know?

    There are a great many things to enjoy about this film. One of them is the dark forest which is scarier by far than any depiction of any dark forest I’ve seen cinematically ever. And of course I loved the song over the closing credits, “Breath of Life” by Florence + The Machine, for once a perfect song matched to a flick.

    But then there are things that infuriate me as well, like the loose ends and unanswered questions, regarding the troll and the mirror for instance. There was more to tell, perhaps we’ll see it in the deleted scenes of the DVD maybe. I also disliked the big LotR battle at the end, this didn’t seem to be that kind of movie. And that’s the problem, I don’t think the folks behind the scenes knew what kind of movie they wanted to make.

    In the end, it’s visually stunning, but otherwise meh. Definitely worth seeing, but maybe more worth waiting for video release or OnDemand.

    Mirror Mirror

    Mirror Mirror ~ Sometimes it just seems too easy to me for Hollywood to take a public domain property like a fairy tale, in this case, Snow White, and put their own spin on it. Most times though, we’re not talking new spin, but a contemporary, sometimes mocking, and most times different for different’s sake, look at it.

    In the case of Mirror Mirror, more than a different take, we get a spotlight for Julia Roberts with her fading star to vamp and overact in the confines of a fantasy over the top role – the evil queen. Roberts is so delicious in the part, she overshadows the rest of the cast, including the usually overwhelming Nathan Lane and the seven dwarves who were particularly entertaining. And if you’re fans of “Little People, Big World” and “Pit Boss,” you’ll see some familiar faces.

    This take on the Snow White, despite the differences, was a tad predictable (and not just because most of the flick has been telegraphed in the previews either), though still entertaining. If nothing else is playing, a good afternoon out, but better a wait for rental or OnDemand. Whatever you do, stay for the Bollywood credit sequence, it’s awesome.

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