When a film just whelms – Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - Official Poster from IMDB.com

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – Official Poster from IMDB.com

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer: Tommy Wirkola
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare

There has been a definite revival of fairytales over the years. Snow White, Cinderella (oh so many), Peter Pan, etc etc etc. Hansel and Gretel is one of those fairytales that I’m never sure how to feel about. It’s about a couple of kids being deserted by their parents because they can’t feed them, a witch captures them and then they kill the witch. How is that a kids story?! Well the new rendition of the Grimms Brothers fairytale definitely isn’t for children. The updated and expanded story of Hansel and Gretel all grown up is not a great film. It has it’s good moments but it really is just another supernatural action film. The only reason I went to see the film was because of Jeremy Renner, and it was worth it for that. It isn’t a bad film, but neither is it a good film, which makes me wonder how to review such a piece. The action sequences are brilliantly choreographed and the humour is pretty great. The stand outs of the film is Thomas Mann who plays Ben, the witch hunters little fan boy, and Derek Mears who plays the troll Edward. Ben and Edward provide humour and heart to a film that is just about beating up witches and shooting old school big guns. Edward the troll is possibly the best admission to the story as it provides a different kind of look at a beast that is so awful in other stories. Edward is your big, friendly, witch protecting, morally good troll. He is bound by his task to protect witches, but is able to decide how to go about that task. And then there is sweet but tainted Ben who has followed the stories of Hansel and Gretel and dreams of being a witch hunter like them. Ben is sweet and starry-eyed and provides a great comedic relationship between himself and Hansel.

I saw this film in 3D and for the first time I regretted seeing a film in 3D. It was a little unnecessary and would’ve been as good, if not better in 2D. I felt a little ill in parts because of the quick movement of the camera in the fight scenes and it was hard to watch at points. I also had a moment of my inner feminist coming out in a scene with Hansel and Mina as the filmmakers decided that it was fine to show the female character undress but didn’t show the male character do the same, which is just silly and sexist (and who doesn’t want to see Jeremy Renner strip down?! So disappointing…)

All in all I wouldn’t necessarily ever recommend Hansel and Gretel but it was still a fun film to watch.
2/5

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Why the director makes all the difference – Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Zero Dark Thirty – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Zero Dark Thirty (2013)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt

It took over ten years for Osama Bin Laden to be found, captured, and killed. Zero Dark Thirty is a film about how long the journey to finding him was, and how the things the military did to get him were “necessary”.

Some may say that this film is pro-torture and anti-Islam and in some ways it is but it is so much more than a propaganda film. Kathryn Bigelow has a flare for creating intensely gripping and realistic films and Zero Dark Thirty is one of her best. The intensity of this film doesn’t come from the subject matter, although it is a gripping story. It comes from the way Bigelow has directed the film. It is the moments of stillness that make this film so fantastic. You view the characters from the outside, disconnected and watchful but when it comes to the highly intense scenes you are thrown into the action with deliberate closeness. It creates for an interesting experience as a viewer as you feel both disconnected and deeply involved at the same time. It is a fascinating and wonderful sensation as a viewer.

The other point of greatness in this film is Jessica Chastain’s performance. It is perfect. Chastain portrays a real woman. It isn’t a feminine or masculine spy type but a perfect balance of intelligence and humanity. It is a mellow and grounded performance that reveals so much about the reality of the resilience of intelligence workers in war. The harshness of their work and the reality of war is portrayed so realistically through this film that it gives this story a believability unlike other war films that have come before it.

This film is a narrative of how the world leader of terrorism was killed and how a woman’s determination to find him was so strong that she devoted her life and career to the cause. It tells the tale of how loss and moral ambiguity can cloud a person’s judgment and about how having a single focus and single mission in life can leave you with a sense of empty relief when it is all said and done.

4/5

Let’s Dance – Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Lingings Playbook - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Silver Lingings Playbook – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Director: David O. Russell
Writers: David O. Russell (screenplay), Matthew Quick (novel)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Always look for a silver lining is the philosophy of Pat (Bradley Cooper) who has just spent time in a mental institution after being arrested for assault on his wife’s lover after he caught them in the shower together. Not a great way to find out that you have a bipolar or that your wife is cheating on you, especially when you are obsessive about your marriage. Pat is determined to get Nikki back. But there is a restraining order and her general not wanting to see him that is getting in the way of Pat restoring his marriage. In walks Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) the sister of his Ex’s best friend. Recently widowed and recovering from depression and a slight sex addiction, Tiffany and Pat form an unlikely friendship. Throw in a mix of Pat’s crazy parents and a large bet that goes wrong and you have Silver Linings Playbook.

Though the story line is your basic comical love story, it is the characters that make this film the fantastic film it is. From Bradley Cooper’s quirky and socially blunt mannerisms to Jennifer Lawrence’s swift mood swings and determination to Robert De Niro’s perfectly rational superstitious gambling habits, this film is filled with actors doing exactly what you want them to do, embody the characters. It’s no wonder that the actors in this film have received so many nominations for this film, they are extraordinary.

Silver Linings Playbook is fun and quirky and will charm the socks off you. It’ll stick with you and make you smile for weeks after seeing it from remembering Lawrence and Cooper’s performances.

4/5