Monday, June 4, 2012

MiB3 & Snow White and the Huntsman

The original Men in Black is one of my all-time favorite summer action flicks; I remember fondly rewatching my old, worn out VHS copy of the movie and the merchandise including Burger King toys, the video games, and the animated series being prevalent.  I was super-excited for Men in Black 2 and even remember having a poster for it on my wall before seeing the movie.  At that ripe age (fourth-ish grade), I still enjoyed the movie despite its flaws, which I would acquiesce later in life.  But at this point in time, the brief moment that Men in Black 3 was the first movie to dethrone The Avengers at the box office, I am more grown, more knowledgable, and ever-ready for the shitpile that would be this third installment nobody asked for.

I have to say, I was expecting this to be abysmally bad, but it turned out merely kind of crappy, superseding any and all expectations I had beforehand.  This film really puts Will Smith in the forefront, as it is J's job to travel back in time and stop an evil alien from killing his partner, K, in the past henceforth causing a chain reaction harbinging the end of the world (oh fuck).  The present-time bookends of the film star our favorite jagged-faced old guy, Tommy Lee Jones, but the majority of the film takes place in the 60's, where the part of Young K is played by Josh Brolin, who does a pretty spot-on impression of Mr. Jones.  I really wish this movie had gone farther with the 60's thing (besides just putting in goofy clothes and Andy Warhol).  Imagine if this was Mad Men with aliens.  And while the "primitive" past technology idea was a good idea, it was not even used properly.  At one point there will be say an ancient version of the neuralizer, but the next second they're driving around motorbikes that look like they exist in our future.  There are so many holes and illogicalities it could take me all day.

The shining star of this film is special effects LEGEND Rick Baker, who designed all the creatures in this movie.  The main baddie, named Boris the Animal, is played surprisingly well by Jermaine Clement (of The Flight of the Conchords); I thought he was pretty cool, he had some kind of spider thing that came out of his hand and shot poisonous spikes at people - can't go wrong with that.  But besides the effects, the charm our lead actors bring into their roles (save for Tommy Lee Jones who looks like he wants to kill himself), and the ending scene that actually somehow becomes touching despite all logic being thrown out the window, this is yet another not-even-close sequel to one of my favorite flicks.

Rating: C

Snow White is possibly one of the most famous fairy tales around, and it is what catapulted Disney into what it is today.  Nearly 80 years later and Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is still a beloved classic, so how could a modern-day gritty revamp of the tale possibly go wrong?  Kristen Stewart.  That's how.  Yes, the expressionless actress from the Twilight movies was picked as a character responsible for leading men into battle and being a strong film presence to carry a summer action blockbuster.  It's too bad this obvious money-grab by studios was implemented, because this film looks like it had the potential to be amazing.

I loved many aspects of this film; the effects were as dazzling as the trailer quotes would have you believe, and I loved the overall grittiness of it - reminded me a lot of Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.  I also thought the camerawork was very well handled, and for the most part nothing "felt" like a green-screen (although it's obvious it was used because of the nature of the movie, it still felt very grounded in "reality").

But that's about where the compliments end.  Besides Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) playing the Huntsman, and the dwarfs, strangely unseen from the trailer, the two main characters both seemed dreadfully out of place.  One of the main reasons I wanted to see this movie was to see Charlize Theron's portrayal of the Evil Queen (if you saw her in Monster you know she can bring a lot of layers to despicable characters), but here she seemed too over-the-top.  Her eyes are bulging out and when she is screaming to her underlings to bring her Snow White, it's almost comical when I doubt it should be.  And then there's Stewart.  Good god.  I've never seen the Twilight films, but between this and Water for Elephants, I think anything that those young foolish vampires touch turns to crap.  Do I even need to explain?  She has that one, stupid face the whole movie.  It's so distracting; the film reaches its climax, the music is sweeping, and an epic battle is happening all around, and she still has that dumb look.

Snow White and the Huntsman has style and flair, and general audiences who enjoy mediocre fare that feels like other films (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter), will probably enjoy it.  I can't say that Stewart's bad acting comes as any surprise, but because she is prevalent throughout most of the movie, it ruined the fun for me.

Rating: C+

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