Snow White And The Huntsman
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and brief sensuality.
Yet Another Adaptation Of The Beloved Grimm’s Fairytale
The primary problem with Snow White And The Huntsman is that it was released right on the heels of Mirror Mirror. Sure, a new version of Snow White has been brought to the big screen about once a decade since its debut in 1902, but how much of a call could there be for another just a couple of months after the last one opened in theaters?
Secondly, while Mirror Mirror is a wholesome family film, this decidedly-darker reinterpretation carefully courts the teen demographic via the popular vampire theme coupled with fairly graphic violence. The film stars Bella Swan, I mean, Kristen Stewart, of Twilight series fame, opposite Chris Hemsworth, the hunky heartthrob who plays Thor in the Marvel Comics franchise.
But it’s Charlize Theron who turns in the picture’s sole dynamic performance as Queen Ravenna, a vain villainess in constant need of reassurance that she’s still “the fairest of them all” from her magical mirror. Like a bloodsucking vampire, she preserves her number one status by literally draining the youth out of all of her comely competition.
The narcissistic grand dame keeps Snow imprisoned in a dungeon with plans to suck the life out of her as soon as the blossoming beauty comes of age. Somehow, the spunky girl escapes, taking refuge in the forest following a spectacular mountaintop plunge down a waterfall reminiscent of Harrison Ford’s iconic scene in The Fugitive.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, the miffed monarch dispatches Eric, the Huntsman, to track down and slay Snow White. However, the widowed warrior shifts loyalties as soon as he sets eyes on her and wises up about evil Ravenna’s true nature.
Directed by Rupert Sanders, Snow White And The Huntsman is an emotionally-flat, special effects-driven affair, its incessant display of technical wizardry, notwithstanding. Unfortunately, the film simply fails to measure up to Mirror Mirror, despite the presence of Chiclet-toothed, ingénue of the moment Kristen Stewart.
A brazenly-blasphemous overhaul of Snow White designed to exploit the trendy vampire formula.
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Running time: 127 minutes
Men In Black III
Rated PG-13 for violence and suggestive content.
Alien-Fighting Franchise Revived For Time-Travel Finale
One sign that scriptwriters have run out of fresh ideas is when they lazily recycle the shopworn, time-travel theme in order to extend an expiring film series. This ill-advised approach has been employed over the years in service of such sorry sequels as The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962), Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Beastmaster 2: Through The Portal Of Time (1991), to name a few.
Even Back To The Future III (1990) doubled-down on the dubious cinematic device when it had Michael J. Fox teleported back to the Wild, Wild West instead of to the ‘50s like the earlier installments. Industry insiders use the Happy Days-inspired catchphrase “Jumping The Shark” to mark the moment a farfetched episode plunges a franchise headlong into an irreversible tailspin.
Fortunately, the relatively-captivating Men In Black III is more than just another, idea-bereft take-the-money-and-run rip-off. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (MIB & MIB II), the picture reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as alien-hunting Agents J and K, respectively.
However, don’t expect to see much of Jones this go-round, since he only makes what really amounts to a couple of cameo appearances during the flick’s wraparound opening and closing sequences. Otherwise, Josh Brolin plays K for the balance of the story, which unfolds in the summer of 1969.
At the picture’s point of departure, we find a one-armed convict called Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement) sitting behind bars inside Lunar Max, a maximum security prison located on the moon. The evil alien soon escapes with the help of his cake-bearing girlfriend (Nicole Scherzinger), his first visitor in over 40 years.
Next, Agent J catches wind of the missing fugitive’s plans to venture backwards in time to exact a measure of revenge on Agent K for having shot off his limb. The vindictive Boris also intends to spearhead an intergalactic invasion of Earth by the Boglodites, a bloodthirsty race of his rogue relatives. Naturally, J decides to return to the past, too, to keep the world safe for humanity and to make sure his partner survives any attempted rewrite of history.
Courtesy of some preposterous, pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, J learns how to time travel and that he must accomplish all of the above and return to the present in less than 24 hours, before a breach in the temporal fracture closes. Anyhow, upon arriving on July 16, 1969, Agent J introduces himself to the 29-year-old incarnation of already-humorless Agent K, and does his darndest to loosen up that trademark, Type-A personality.
What ensues is an engaging enough mix of special effects-driven mirth and mayhem, with the tension being wound around the imperiled launch of Apollo 11 at Cape Canaveral. But since there’s never a doubt that Boris and the Boglodites are destined to be subdued, the true payoff arrives after the action subsides by way of an emotional revelation that it would be unfair to spoil.
A fitting, franchise finale featuring all the fixins for a satisfying sendoff!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 103 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 8, 2012
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (PG for mild action and rude humor). Latest adventure in the animated franchise finds the anthropomorphic menagerie joining the circus in Monte Carlo to evade capture by a mean, animal control officer (Frances McDormand). Voice cast includes Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer and Cedric The Entertainer.
Prometheus (R for intense violence and brief profanity). Ridley Scott directed this sci-fi thriller, set in the late 21st century, about a team of scientists whose research expedition to outer space turns into a desperate struggle for survival when they encounter a bloodthirsty race of aliens bent on exterminating all of humanity. Starring Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Guy Perace.
Bel Ami (R for nudity, graphic sexuality and brief profanity). Romance drama, set in Paris in the 1890s, about an ambitious young politician (Robert Pattinson) who rises to power by seducing the city’s wealthiest and most-influential women. With Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Corpo Celeste (Unrated). Coming-of-age drama about a 13-year-old (Yle Vianello) who resists the pressure to practice Catholicism when her family moves back to Italy after living in Switzerland for a decade. With Salvatore Cantalupo, Anita Caprioli and Paola Lavini. (In Italian with subtitles)
Dark Horse (Unrated). Todd Solondz directed this romance drama about the love which blossoms between a couple of dysfunctional adults still living with their parents, one (Jordan Gelber), a toy collector, the other (Selma Blair), a clinically-depressed, aspiring writer. Supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Jusin Bartha.
Knockdown (Unrated). Two-fisted tale of redemption about a disgraced boxer (Casey T. Evans), betrayed by a bookie, who moves from St. Louis to Bangkok where he secretly returns to the ring on the underground circuit until his past catches up with him when he’s recognized by a mysterious fight fan from his hometown. With Tom Arnold, Bai Ling, Alex Veadov and Nick Faltas.
Lola Versus (R for profanity, sexuality and drug use). Greta Gerwig stars in the title role of this romantic comedy about a jilted bride-to-be’s promiscuity in the wake of being dumped by her fiancé (Joel Kinnaman) just three weeks before their wedding day. Cast includes Hamish Linklater, Zoe Lister-Jones, Debra Winger and Bill Pullman.
Patagonia Rising (Unrated). Eco-documentary chronicling the battle between conservationists and an insensitive, multi-national corporation planning to build five dams on free-flowing rivers in Chile’s pristine Patagonia region. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
Paul Williams: Still Alive (PG-13 for drug references and brief profanity). Reverential biopic about the legendary singer-songwriter and talk show staple best known as the composer of a string of hits in the ‘70s, including “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Just An Old Fashioned Love Song” and “Rainy Days And Mondays.
Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (R for drug use and sexual references). Dysfunctional family dramedy about a tightly-wound, Manhattan attorney (Katherine Keener) in a failing marriage who takes her teenage kids (Nate Wolff and Elizabeth Olsen) upstate to Woodstock to meet their estranged grandmother (Jane Fonda) for the first time in their lives. With Kyle MacLachlan, Rosanna Arquette and Chace Crawford.
Safety Not Guaranteed (R for profanity and sexual references). Sci-fi comedy about a magazine reporter (Aubrey Plaza) who, much to the chagrin of coworkers (Karan Soni and Jake M. Johnson) also covering the story, falls head over heels for the weirdo (Mark Duplass) looking for a companion to travel back in time with him. With Basil Harris, Jeff Garlin and Lauren Carlos.