As part of a resolution to stop watching movies all the time and actually do something productive with my days off, I have decided to start cramming my movie consumption into one extended (and most probably drunken) night of the week. To kick things off (for some reason) I thought it would be a good idea to start with a marathon of movie based upon Grimm fairy tales. Needless to say it made for a rather….. wait for it…. Grimm viewing experience.
For more such witty blogging, join me after the jump.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
It should come as a surprise to no one that Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is something of a dud. Looking at the trailer it’s clear that a lot was borrowed from other fairy tale/fantasy yarns, and not the good ones. Films like Underworld and Van Helsing. Indeed it is almost impossible NOT to predict every story beat in the films first half.
Things do get slightly more interesting as the plot trundles along, but not nearly interesting enough. In the end it all boils down to the complete indifference I had to the two leads. Jeremy Renner is nondescript, while Gemma Arterton is borderline bad and completely un-relatable. Famke Janssen is as committed as ever, but she’s not given a lot to work with as the movies Big-Bad. And it’s always good to see Peter Stormare in a film, no matter for how shorter-time or how pointless his character is.
Let’s be honest, no one is turning up to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters for the drama. We want action. As it happens the action on display here is so-so. It never really elevates above merely entertaining, aside from the films more intense final confrontation in the ginger-bread house.
Overall, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is just the tiniest bit better than I was expecting. But that’s hardly high praise.
Best Bit: Hansel ate too much candy, and now he has diabetes … Genius!
Worst Bit: Gemma Arterton’s accent
In writing this article I completely forgot about Mirror, Mirror. I remembered that I had watched three films, but couldn’t for the life of me remember what the second one was. It took me some time to recall. That perfectly sums up the film. Forgettable.
Mirror, Mirror is desperate to be a Terry Gilliam like adventure, and while it gets it right visually, it gets everything else wrong. This is mainly thanks to director Tarsem Singh who has shown time and time again that he can direct a beautiful movie, but not actors, drama, comedy, action, or anything else for that matter. Mirror, Mirror is filled with awkward pauses, bad comic timing, and incomprehensible montages.
Not all of the blame can be laid at Singh’s feet however. No, some of it has to be given to Lily Cole, who, despite looking the part, is atrociously bland. As the protagonist of the film she should at least try to carry the film. But no. Lazy!
I’ve never been much of a fan of Julia Roberts before, but here she steals the show, actually managing to inflect some humour into the very little material she is given. At first it seems as if she would be the protagonist of the film, but unfortunately that turns out not to be the case. It is her few interactions with Armie Hammer’s charismatic prince that elevate Mirror, Mirror just slightly above its predecessor in this marathon.
Best Bit: Sean Bean makes a cameo, and not only does he not die, but he’s actually resurrected…. sort of.
Worst Bit: Suprisingly, nothing comes to mind. The film is never bad, just bland.
The Brothers Grimm
So on to the finale. Just to be clear, at this point it was 1 in the morning, I’d had a bit to drink, and I’d just sat through two rather boring films, so my review may be a little…. bias?
I have always wanted to see The Brothers Grimm, with Terry Gilliam directing, and Matt Damon and Heath Ledger acting, I reasoned that the film couldn’t be as bad as some critics would have me believe. Still, I think I have put it off so long because I was scared to find out. Well, no better time to watch it than now.
As it turns out The Brothers Grimm ends up being somewhere between my high expectations and its low score. It is an entertaining ride.
At the heart of its success (compared to the two previous films) is that the Grimm brothers have their own distinct characters played with a level of charm by their respective actors. Don’t get me wrong, these characters are far from deep, but in comparison to the films I had seen earlier in the night, these protagonists felt like fully formed people.
The story meanders all over the place, and doesn’t have a very clear drive. But there is enough to hold the attention here. There is an interesting mythology which holds reference after reference to Grimm tales, a slightly odd love-triangle, and (for the second time in the night) a Peter Stormare appearance which almost stole the show. all of this helped to keep me engaged throughout.
Perhaps some may have been expecting a true Gilliam experience. While there are certainly touches, I can tell you that this is not a classic Gilliam film. Instead it is an entertaining caper, if not a rather unremarkable one.
Best Bit: Heath Ledger does a strange little jig in the films final scene, and that made me unreasonably happy. I blame the booze.
Worst Bit: The weird Gingerbread sludge monster. So bizarre!