Movies: Skyfall, SWatH & Dark Shadows

Snow White and the Huntsman

Rating: 2.2/5

Details: Directed by Rupert Sanders, starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Running time of 127 minutes. A fantasy period piece and deconstruction of the Grimms’ Snow White, with Theron as a villain with a story and Stewart as a warrior princess.

Review: The saddest thing about the film Snow White and the Huntsman was its failure to realize its full potential. The premise and deconstruction of elements were intriguing, and the angle the director took made it more exciting compared to its peer, the film Mirror Mirror. It had so many tools at its disposal, and yet it still ended up being a messy film with a storyline that lacks cohesion. Most of the actors lost their character’s identity as the film progressed; Stewart and Hemsworth failed to ground their motivations (apart from saying it) and so color their actions with purpose. This could also be the fault of the director and writers; with such a gritty, pseudo-realistic setting, the characters should have been just as three-dimensional. Many crucial aspects were left unexplained, untouched or unlived. The redeeming qualities of the movie would be the delectable visual experience it presents with its effects, setting and props, and Theron’s (earlier) performances as the evil queen. Color me severely unimpressed.

Dark Shadows

Rating: 3/5

Details: A horror comedy film based on the soap opera, featuring a disoriented vampire from the past, a witch, a reincarnated spirit/ghost and surprisingly some humans. Directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp and Eva Green.

Review: I didn’t laugh much at all, which is why this film won’t be a classic for me. Most of the jokes fell flat;  and the film’s confusion over its genre made the tone shift in ways that weren’t enjoyable for the viewer. At a moment it showed a dramatic segue to the past, next a campy joke about the 70s, and then shift again to Green shrieking after Depp in the name of love. Fortunately for Dark Shadows, it has a lot of quality aspects to balance it out. The highlights of the movie would be the visual experience (the shots of the sceneries, the construction of 70s America juxtaposed with Barnabas Collins, the artistic style alone, and the Collins house), the acting of most characters (marking Depp and Green), and some of the central themes were played out well (the harping on about family, for one; the redefinitions of life and love, and so on).  [From a feminist perspective as well, I find Angelique’s motivation as very suspect, though I am glad for the Collins matriarch.]

Skyfall

Rating: 4.5/5

Details: The 23rd James Bond movie, revealing some things about M’s past and 007’s humanity.  Directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem. 

ReviewPerfection –or, well. Rather close to it. Skyfall is the first Bond movie I have ever watched in the theaters, or even at all. I always thought of James Bond movies as boring, action-riddled and essentially character-absent, as most other spy films are. It has been an extremely gratifying experience to be proven wrong by the film. Skyfall has a lot of things making it run well –a solid storyline, realistic character motivations, character development, beautiful acting and such. Though it ran for an off 2 hours and 17 minutes, it more than made up for it with its story –especially the reveal of MI6 as an Unwitting Pawn to Silva’s Magnificent Bastard plans (still can’t find the proper tropes for this case). I salute Bardem for his performance as Silva; his mannerisms and style was both delightfully unnerving and fascinating to watch. Craig’s Bond was believable for its character; with nothing to compare to, I can only say that he made Agent 007 badass, with a side serving of ‘vulnerable but still better than all of you’. Judi Dench round up the film with a strong and human turn as M, whose very character drove the film forward. The movie was a visual feast, with the blue-grey of London, the symmetry of MI6, the fiery red of China and the dusty brown roofs of Istanbul.  With strong exposition it was able to make the old more relevant, placing James Bond solidly in the 21st century. [From a feminist viewpoint, I find myself slightly apprehensive of what direction ‘keeping with the old ways’ would take. Does this mean women will remain easily discarded eye-candy? Spoilers: Looking at  Marlohe’s Severine being raped in her shower by Bond, who knew that she was a sex slave in a vulnerable and traumatizing position already. Not to mention Eve’s turnabout from being a woman proud of her marksmanship field skills to becoming Miss Moneypenny, who in this adaptation is a glorified office worker.]

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