But, where the 1939 movie was an unbelievably forward-thinking work of art that inspired filmmakers for decades, the movie we get in 2013 does nothing to advance the medium and only capitalizes on the technology of its predecessors. Director Sam Raimi takes no risks and his lack of inventiveness ruins what could have been a very entertaining prequel.
Magic beans are magic beans — not some genetically altered strain developed by an evil alchemist. Good is good and evil is evil. This is the movie’s most positive quality. For so many years, it has felt as if we’ve watched movies play dress up, putting on costumes of somberness, 21st century cynicism, and faux-complexity…
In Rise of the Guardians, we discover that not only are Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny real, they also comprise an ancient league chosen to protect mankind’s children. The Guardians, as they are called, are made up of some of the most beloved characters from our childhood who, as we grow older, become less and less real.
Here’s where the movie diverges from the book. In Meyer’s version, there is no battle. There are “warring” factions of vampires standing in a snowy field giving each other the side-eye, and then it’s over. What kind of end to your “saga” is that? Condon and writer Melissa Rosenberg devised a brilliant scheme; a gruesome vampire/wolf melee has most of the series’ important characters dying horrible deaths.
The lead two actors have good chemistry, Clancy Brown is always a welcome sight, and the script is funny. Even when the plot falters, the movie maintains its sense of humor and commitment to the premise of showing how two painfully average 20-somethings would fare when given the task of saving the Earth.
More a collection of vignettes than one single story, Holy Motors features each of Oscar’s “characters” as the star of their own short, often bizarre, film. This format allows Carax to experiment with many different styles, and one feels the pleasure he has in staging a crime drama, a melodrama, and a musical intermission.
Along with energy of place, comes a specific manifestation of that energy in the person of young Quevenzhané Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy, the film’s narrator and heroine. Wallis, a schoolgirl from Houma, Louisiana, confronts the camera untutored, dead-on, and fearless. She can juice it up and she can flatten it out, as required, but her Hushpuppy is always skinny, strong, disheveled, intense, thoughtful and thoroughly believable.
When I first left the theater, I was ambivalent about this movie but hopeful about the sequel. The franchise has good leads in Garfield and Stone, and now that the origin is out of the way, the filmmakers may be more willing to take this Spider-Man in their own direction. Nevertheless, there’s something disheartening about a movie whose primary reason for existing seems to be as a placeholder for a sequel.
This is not your typical Disney princess rendition of romance. In fact, it has no essential connection to losing one’s heart to a prince. Adventure is Merida’s first love, and above all she longs for the freedom to determine her own fate. Her high spirits make her the apple of her father’s eye, but also bring her into constant clashes with her mother, whose sole aim is to cultivate some courtly bearing in the fiery young lass.
After a kiss reawakens Snow White (though it may not be the kiss you’re expecting, which is slightly obnoxious), she rallies her men with a speech – and I do like Stewart, but this scene is horrible – and rides off to war with them. While previous Snow Whites have been pretty little princesses, this one wears leather pants beneath her skirts and looks “fetching in maille.” It’s one of the movie’s redeeming factors. And who should be the one to defeat the dark queen, but the princess herself? For Stewart, who’s been stuck playing weak, pathetic, husk Bella for years now, the role must’ve seemed a brilliant departure.
As Ichabod Crane, as Willy Wonka, Ed Wood, the Mad Hatter, or Sweeney Todd, Depp’s persona is quirky and stiff, wide-eyed and full of suspicion/mischief/barely hidden insanity. The characters into whose skins he slips under Burton’s direction are all beginning to feel suspiciously familiar – and Barnabas Collins isn’t an exception.
With Mirror Mirror, Singh makes a drastic departure from the dark, brooding territory covered in his previous films and instead sets his talents to work on a family-friendly, PG-rated adaptation of the classic Snow White fairytale. While it is admirable (and refreshing) to see an auteur like Singh challenge himself by choosing material markedly different from what he is used to, in the end Mirror Mirror fails to cohere into a satisfying experience, despite wonderful acting performances and Singh’s signature visual richness.