Tag Archives: Charlize Theron

Audrey The Uncanny

Uncanny Valley – party of one. The late Audrey Hepburn, now sort-of appearing in a TV advert. It’s a living…

 A virtual Audrey Hepburn, digitally returned from the beyond…to sell us chocolate bars.

The business of resurrecting deceased stars of yore in order to pimp products is nothing new – in recent years, Chanel have made fragrance adverts featuring current brand ambassador Charlize Theron rubbing shoulders with former Chanelistas Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly backstage at a fashion show, for example.  Death is no longer an escape from being compelled to flog somebody else’s merchandise.

It’s quite a good attempt to render the gamine Anglo-Belgian icon anew for Generation iPad, who are perhaps more familiar with her photographic afterlife than her exemplary filmography – Indeed, if you want to class up the joint, there’s still no better way to do that than to put a Holly Golightly print up on the wall of your apartment.  She’s everyone’s favourite style pin-up, isn’t she?

I’m still a little nonplussed by the default merch angle with these digital recreations.  Is it better to have such Frankenstein-esque acts of virtual revivification performed in bite-sized advertorial chunks like this, saving us the horrific prospect of “Casablanca 2: Sam’s Revenge” with a digitally revived Bogie and Bergman running virtual rings round Nazi ne-er do wells?  Or should we just admit that the likes of Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler are but poor substitutes for actual stars and go crazy with the rendering farms, introducing today’s cinema goers to new flicks from Hollywood’s golden age stars?

Let’s not give Michael Bay any ideas…

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Month Late Film Reviews – “Snow White and The Huntsman”

There’s something to be said for going to the movies a little after everybody else has moved on to the new hotness.  The cinema is less crowded, as everything’s now gone digital, there’s no obvious degradation in image or sound quality and the ‘talk and text’ crowd are elsewhere: What’s not to like?

Well, it helps if the film was worth the wait and, in this case, I’m not sure that it was.

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I had been quite looking forward to this movie since the first trailers arrived and promised a fantasy-centric take on the fairy tale and subsequent glimpses at footage promised a film which isn’t entirely delivered by the end product.  British director Rupert Sanders certainly can deliver eye-popping special effects, decent action sequences and clearly works well with his cinematographer Greig Fraser – the imagery throughout the film is up there with anything that you’ve seen from Peter Jackson or Guillermo Del Toro (the latter influence being particularly evident in an encounter with a troll, which is right out of Pan’s Labyrinth‘).

Where this film really falls down for me is in the way that it betrays the logic of the story it has telling – though this is a fantasy flick, you might reasonably expect there to be some logical consistency at play somewhere in proceedings, as to suddenly ditch the rules of the world you have created betrays a certain lack of confidence in your audience or your tale.

Let me give the example which really rankled with me – as the audience, we find ourselves inhabiting a world where trolls, dwarves, magic and all manner of High Fantasy tropes wander the countryside in clear defiance of Him Upstairs and what organised religion would have us believe as the established order of things.   We get frequent references to Heaven and a central character reciting the Lord’s Prayer at one point.

We’re not dealing with a C.S. Lewis-like, heavily foregrounded religious analogy – we’re watching a story which desperately wants some of that sweet, post-“Harry Potter” fantasy cinema cash and yet gets scared enough of offending devout believers with disposable cash that it has to find some, wholly inconsistent way of abruptly jamming unwanted Christian dogma into a film not requiring any such addendum to work well – it’s so out-of-place that it genuinely annoyed me.

How Very Black Metal? None More Black Metal. Charlize Theron as Queen Ravenna in “Snow White & The Huntsman”…

Besides, I can’t imagine many God-fearing families being that delighted with their carefully screened outing to the cinema when the film also tries to interject a rather better-handled and more interesting feminist subtext into the story – for the most part, I actually warmed more to the villain, Queen Ravenna, than the titular heroine, especially when we get a brief flashback to her childhood and events which offer context for her behaviour, whilst not condoning it.   She’s bad to the bone, but we can legitimately blame Patriarchal Royalty for the rot setting in and wholly buggering things up for the citizenry.  Huzzah!

So, to sum up – the story wants to be kind of feminist and yet God-fearing, whilst originating from an American media conglomerate who would be queueing up to condemn the desirable, simple-minded monarchy depicted as being essential to the well-being of a country in their product.  Yes, no confused messages there at all.  Ahem…

The acting’s reasonably okay, which is the biggest surprise that I took away from this film – Charlize Theron is superb as Ravenna, getting her teeth into the heavily costumed, frequently hysterical wronged queen and budding despot in a way that she wasn’t allowed to in Ridley Scott‘s largely bobbins disappointment, “Prometheus” (blame an underwritten role for that one).  She steadfastly dominates the screen whenever she’s appears,  in a turn which somehow bestrides the middle line between high camp and convincing character turn.

“You take the left 500 Twi-Hards – I’ll take the 800 on the right…”

She’s mostly matched by Chris Hemsworth, who is likeable if not always completely understandable as the unnamed Huntsman – he’s a chipper and convincing action hero in this foray outside the Marvel Cinematic universe and he does a good job of showing something of an arc between the alcoholic bum we meet at the outset of the film and the rather more engaged, focussed hero with a cause we see the climax of the film.  His accent, though, is utterly ludicrous – a generic Celtic mash-up hailing from somewhere between Melbourne and Glasgow and never quite settling in either for more than twenty seconds at a time.  It’s to his credit that this doesn’t detract from his other work in the role.

To Kristen Stewart, then – she’s genuinely quite good.  If the “Twilight” flicks have put you off watching her in anything else, try to get over that and give her a chance in this film, as she does the best accent of any of the non-Brits on show and makes for a pleasingly matter-of-fact fairytale heroine, low on vanity (everybody in this film has to cope with being soaked by a seemingly omnipresent, roaming rain cloud which is so prevalent in scenes that you expect to see it in the cast list somewhere) and high in earnest conviction.  She copes well with a dreadful, cod-Shakespearian speech which is meant to rally the troops at the end and instead just baffles – they all suit up and follow her, so I suppose it worked.

In the supporting cast, I should mention the likes of Nick Frost, Brian Gleeson, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone, who assay your Seven Dwarves despite not being of applicable stature – there’s some serious, undercover effects wizardry at play in their scenes but the film doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with what is a daft amount of acting talent – if a sequel does arrive, we might hope that the makers find these guys something decent and worthy to do in it.

Overall, then?  Decent but not earth shattering – a high fantasy tale which seems a little embarrassed of its roots and wants to ground the action in an occasionally glum, realistic milieu which should help provide a comparison to the fantastic elements when they arrive but instead just helps to make the film’s identity that bit more confused.  Some decent acting and amazing technical feats are rather undercut by a script which doesn’t really have a concrete point of view – if I graded films, I’d probably give this a C.  There’s definitely room for improvement in many areas, which is what a sequel should set out to do.

And if they could avoid having the endlessly annoying Florence & The Machine on the soundtrack next time around, that would be quite lovely…

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New “Prometheus” international trailer is spoileriffic!

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Don’t watch the new international (i.e. British) trailer for Ridley Scott‘sPrometheus“.

If you don’t want things spoiled before it’s June release, if you want to go in cold, if you don’t want certain plot aspects which you might have had a hunch about pretty much confirmed, be sure to avoid the trailer that I’ve linked to above – it’s got so much awesome sauce inside that it could melt your nerdy brain as much as it did for me.

No explicit statements of content but some pretty tangy hints that the sufficiently motivated could draw some conclusions from.

Just so as you know.

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“Prometheus” footage reviewed at Empire Online

"You there, with the long hair - get off my lawn!"

Greatest Living Irishman and newly ordained fave Fluffrick Podcaster Chris Hewitt has seen 12 minutes (and change) of Prometheus footage and was kind enough to gab about it over at the Empire Online blog.

You’ll be stunned to learn that it looks fricking awesome, is definitely deeply redolent of Alien down to planetary names, has scares up the wazoo (possibly literally, Hewitt didn’t let on…) and single-handedly makes a case for 3D being used by talented film-makers who can get the most out of it.

And, most happily of all, director Ridley Scott is still a massive curmudgeon and thinks that the MPAA should get their act together.  Well, the BBFC managed it, after a fashion, so I suppose that anything is possible.

“Prometheus” opens in the UK  on June 1st.  Coincidentally, this blog will probably be receiving few, if any, updates on that day due to  your writer gibbering and clucking like a maniacal chicken as he awaits his IMAX 3D viewing…

Lovely image, isn’t it?

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“Snow White & The Huntsman” – second trailer ups the fairytale ante

Hmm...pretty fantasy gubbins, ahoy.

In the battle of duelling “Snow White” movies, I long since pledged my viewership to Brit helmer Rupert Sanders and his “Snow White & The Huntsman” effort – despite multiple viewings of differing trailers, I’ve not been able to warm to the Tarsem Singh-helmed Julia Roberts-starring “Mirror, Mirror”, which seems to be going down a fluffy sitcom direction which will doubtless speak to a lot of folks.

I’m just not one of those folks.

My cautious nerd-jones for the Kristen Stewart/Chris Hemsworth/Charlize Theron effort has been stoked somewhat by the second trailer for the film, which is now online.

Ooh - she's SO evil.

And, no, it’s not due to Charlize wearing a lot of milk and not a lot else – I’m going with the trailer’s frequent bat-shizz insane flights of fantasy, bonkers action and epic scale shenanigans which promise that, if nothing else, this will be a feast for the eyes.

It’s due to open on June 1st, opposite that Ridley Scott film we were discussing the other day – option paralysis engage!

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“Snow White & The Huntsman” trailer – up!

Given that Universal Pictures’ corporate policy is apparently to make tent-pole summer movies out of board games you used to play as a kid, or hope that the young people still like them some Dominic Torretto every couple of years, you could be forgiven for thinking that all is lost for the studio who once brought you the likes of “Jurassic Park” and “Back To The Future”.

I’m not sure that things will be any better in 2012, but I’m following their iteration of the ‘Snow White’ tale with a little more enthusiasm than I expected to, now that Hollywood has decided that we should have a whole bunch of Snow White flicks next summer.

Bella, Aeon Flux and Thor made a film? What larks!

Genuine enthusiasm for putting a spin on a beloved classic or all concerned just wanting to get product out of the door before the imminent End of All Things?  Who can say.

To get on with it, Uni have released a trailer for their take on the Fairest of Them All – and it stars noted awkwardist and sometime vampire spouse Kristen Stewart alongside affable God of Thunder Chris Hemsworth, Oscar (C) winning Charlize Theron and a chap called Sam Clafin, whose presence in the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” flick escaped me (not in a rush to see it, if I’m honest).

Why am I interested in this? Well, it certainly looks different from the usual takes on fairy tales.  Snow White’s in armour, the magic mirror’s had quite the upgrade, the Evil Queen’s clearly into milk in a major way and Chris Hemsworth is built like a fricking fridge, so whatever he wants to do is perfectly fine by me.

It’s a fine trailer – whether the collision of images, battle scenes, Evil Queen’s sexy bath time antics, swooning romance and abruptly exploding wildfowl add up to anything more than stirringly-scored eye candy is your guess but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more on this as it develops.

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