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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Get Gritty, Get Gorgeous – The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Bourne Legacy – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Director: Tony Gilroy
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay & story), Dan Gilroy (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel & inspiration)
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton

The Bourne Legacy is the fourth in the Bourne franchise but it also the first movie with the main character of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) instead of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). The story picks up Cross as he is on a training exercise for the “program” in Alaska, and while Jason Bourne is running rite in Europe and America. With Bourne’s eradict behaviour and the light being shone on the CIA’s operations, they plan to shut the “program” down. This is where we find ourselves thrown into the action with Aaron Cross as he tries to survive the wildness of apparent death and the dependence on viral tablets that have been part of his treatment in the “program”.

After loving the Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum so much I was cautious walking into this film. But I came prepared with low expectations after reading a bad review from Empire Magazine. I shall never trust their reviewers again, and you will soon see why. I sat in my cinema seat with popcorn in hand as the lights dimmed and the familiar image of a body floating in water appeared on screen (a similar shot was used in The Bourne Identity to open the series). This time however it was Aaron Cross, diving into the depths of a river in Alaska. He emerged from the water as a wet, rugged, bearded, wild man in the form of Jeremy Renner. He wrapped himself with a blanket and stood in front of a fire on the icy shelter next to the river as the camera panned out to show us that he was standing in the middle of a snow covered wilderness. And it was at this moment that I knew the film was going to break my low expectations by far.

Renner plays a more vocal character than our beloved Bourne, however he performs with such strength, ferocity and charisma that you can’t help but be on his side as he fights to live. The story unfolds in two parts and by the end of the feature I felt like I had started in a different movie than the one I had ended up in. It wasn’t as cleverly devised as the originals but it captures the audience and takes them on a ride of adrenaline just the same. The action sequences are just as intense as in the originals and there is an added element of remorselessness in a lot of the action that wasn’t there in the originals but left me a little shaken and shocked. Renner surpassed my expectations of wonderful as he continued to show his unbelievable ability to be a rough and tough action hero. He isn’t your usual type of handsome for an action figure but he becomes more handsome the grittier he gets. And when sitting across from the gorgeous Rachel Weisz the screen screams sexy at you. The pair of actors make a formidable force on screen and with the added bit of evil provided by Edward Norton you can’t help but be captured by this film. Norton provides boundless amounts of terrifying intelligent evil to the movie and I would never want to work for his character because I would just end up in tears every day out of fright.

The Bourne Legacy follows the trilogy with a faithfulness to Ludlum’s world and provides a great next installment for the series. It may not be better than the original three but it certainly matches them for action and adventure.  I can’t decide now whether I prefer Bourne or Cross which is testament to Renner’s performance as Cross. He is charming and brilliant as well as vulnerable and fierce. The balance between Renner and Weisz solidifies the film and the story really makes you champion their cause. I really enjoyed this film and will definitely be seeing it again as soon as possible. Go and experience the awesome that is Aaron Cross and the irresistible Jeremy Renner.

Films I Watch A Million Times Series – The Bourne Series

The Bourne Identity - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Bourne Identity – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay), W. Blake Herron (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel)
Stars: Franka Potente, Matt Damon and Chris Cooper

There have been some blessings that have come with growing up with an older brother who loved Steven Segal and Bruce Willis films. One of those blessings was the nurtured love of action films. There is something incredibly satisfying about watching the good guy triumph over the evil, especially when the evil is the US government.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a man without memory of who he is or why he knows he knows how to do a myriad of things including speak multiple languages fluently and can take down fifty armoured guards without a second thought. He is searching for his past and dodging death as he seeks to live a future free of the command of those who once controlled him. Jason Bourne is a man not to be trifled with.

As with most action films there isn’t a lot of dialogue, but there sure is a lot of acting going on by Matt Damon and his lady accomplice played by Franka Potente. The relationship that spawned out of need turns into a relationship of shared experience. There is a wonderful crafting of this pairing that takes place throughout the film which makes it genuine and more meaningful than the sloppy creations in your B-list action films.

The story of Bourne and his adventures are based off Robert Ludlum’s popular novels but carry more of the characterisation than of the actual story in the novels. But I believe this is for the better as the complexity of the novels take away from the sharp immediacy of the films. The Bourne Identity is the first in a trilogy (soon to be added to by a fourth, The Bourne Legacy – out August 11th). The Bourne Identity begins the saga of Jason Bourne and it also is, in my opinion, the best of the films. You really ride along with Bourne as he discovers parts of who he is, where he has been, and who is after him. With the carefully sequenced and choreographed action scenes filmed mostly on handheld cameras it provides for a rocky ride but intensifies the scene and provides what would be quite a real perspective on the action. Damon’s performance is pensive and withdrawn but comes across powerfully as he expresses his character’s strength, confusion, love, and vengeful nature.

I am a little cautious about getting my expectations up for The Bourne Legacy because the Bourne Trilogy was so gritty and wonderful. It will be interesting to see where they take it and if they stick to the books that carried on after Ludlum’s death. I am very excited to see how Jeremy Renner goes in his lead role in this film (no he’s not a recasting of Jason Bourne, it’s a different character). Renner’s really becoming a new action man of film and it’s going to be interesting to see what aspects of Damon’s portrayal he picks up on and which he reinvents for himself.