AEOS Double Review: Prometheus and Rock of Ages

I suppose I couldn’t pick two more different movies to be reviewing together, but having seen both this past weekend and having each fresh in my mind, I decided to double up on this review.

Prometheus

Well, I think I’ll always be catching up on movies. I have never seen any of the Alien films until last Friday, when my best friend sat me down and said, “You have to at least see the first Alien before seeing Prometheus.” So we did just that — and I was amazed at how cool a sci-fi film could be made, even in the late 1970s. Sigourney Weaver was the sole survivor and hero of the film. I was a big fan.

So going into Prometheus, I felt slightly more prepared and that much more excited to be able to make comparisons or relate similar ideas and characters if need be. For one, let me just say that I was a big fan of the cast of Prometheus. Both Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace have been making names for themselves in the U.S., especially within the past couple years. Charlize Theron is still a pro at playing a cold character, and the others worked out their roles as any other nonessential supporting characters would.

Ridley Scott also brought us stunning visuals, which comes as no surprise to anyone who even caught a preview of the film. It really was a dazzling film to view on the big screen, especially the scenes within the caves.

There’s been a lot of hubbub and analyzing over all the open-endedness of the film. My personal take is that the questions were intentionally left open in order for audiences to discuss, arrive at their own conclusions, or just appreciate the complex beauty of the film and take it for what it is–pure science fiction at its core. Many have made comparisons to that of Tree of Life, or people give their own take from an atheistic or Christian perspective.

Yes, I’m a Christian, but I view the film from a fictional perspective. Perhaps if I had seen the other Alien films and revisit Prometheus a time or two, and read various articles on the film, I would give my own deeper explanation for my own lack of explanation and analyzation of the film. Sorry for anyone I might disappoint. The biggest movie comparison for me was Inception. Do I have your attention now? 🙂

The only comparison I make of the two films is that Inception also closes with an ending that is a question: did the top fall over, did it not? Was Cobb still dreaming?

In Prometheus, I’m thinking, did Shaw find her answers? I suppose she still chooses to believe in God when she puts the cross necklace back on, but she’s still searching. Will she find the answers she’s looking for? Will she survive long enough to find the answers? Are there even answers for her to find, given her limits as a human being?

The answer to all those questions is I don’t know. A gloriously blissful ignorant I DON’T KNOW. And I enjoy not knowing, because I think that’s the point of the open-ended questions that close the films. It’s an intentional choice on the end of the writers/directors to let the audience decide and arrive at their own conclusions.

Rock of Ages

On the complete other end of the movie genre spectrum is a little musical called the Rock of Ages. From many of the reviews I’ve read (and agree with), Rock of Ages can be summed up as a string of awesome ’80s music videos featuring some crazy big stars, from Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones to Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand and newcomer Diego Boneta.

It was an average film at best. My biggest complaint is that I think Julianne Hough, who nailed her role, should stick to dancing instead of singing. This will sound petty to people who are less OCD than I am, but when you make a musical and the main role is sung by someone who’s voice is not only recognizable as highly edited throughout the film, but who clearly doesn’t possess the vocal range necessary to sing, and oftentimes, lead many of the huge vocal numbers, it’s frustrating as a viewer.

That being said, newbie Diego Boneta rocked the music and the role, and Tom Cruise was easily the most entertaining and best part of Rock of Ages. Some scenes with him are beyond funny, and make the film worth rental price just to watch him act like a rock star. I almost wish Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand would have had larger roles, because they were hilarious and enjoyable to watch interacting as well.

The problem with Adam Shankman’s latest musical wasn’t the casting or the acting, and certainly not the music selection, but the terrible screenplay. No doubt the story works better on stage than onscreen. I recently saw Jersey Boys at Broadway in Chicago, and I loved it. But I couldn’t imagine seeing a screen version of it turn out well. I assume it’s the same concept for stories like Rock of Ages.

What did you think of Prometheus? I’m open for discussion, so throw yourself out there if you have an opinion. Did you see Rock of Ages? Did you did the film, or were underwhelmed like me? Share your thoughts below!

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Roger Ebert, Film Criticism, and Writing

I had no plans to blog about film criticism or review, about Roger Ebert, or about blogging. But then again, I read that today is Roger Ebert’s 70th birthday, and thought I ought to pay the man homage in the only way I know how: talk about film criticism.

Gary Susman wrote a fascinating article about Ebert on MovieFone, titled “Roger Ebert at 70: Did He Save or Destroy Film Criticism?” (I highly recommend you movie buffs read it.) And instead of regurgitating the article to you here, there are a couple interesting points that Susman brings up that I’d like to discuss. He inserts Ebert only part of the time, primarily talking about how film criticism and review differ, whether film criticism is dead, and essentially, the roots of film criticism, with Ebert’s almighty thumb heading it–and now all his fingers typing away to keep the film criticism wheel turning.

Susman does all of us a favor and differentiates between film review and criticism. Take a look:

“There’s a lot of confusion over the difference between reviewing and criticism, and what each ought to be, or that there even is a difference. It’s a distinction that confuses even many critics and reviewers. One way to look at it is this: reviewing is a consumer service, directed toward people who haven’t seen the film yet, telling them whether or not it’s worth their money. Criticism is an analysis of a movie for people who’ve already seen it, part of the never-ending conversation that exists about each film. Reviewing is based on the (perceived) taste of your audience or readership; criticism is based on your own taste. “

I agree with the unfortunate thought that Susman makes on criticism in general today: it’s based on one’s own taste. It’s a popular thing to have an opinion and to be independently-minded today. Being learned and educated on a topic isn’t nearly as popular. Many readers and consumers today don’t seek enough counsel, review the options, or consider the possibility that words or products are(n’t) accurate today, depending on the source of the words or product.

I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say this, but perhaps the choir could use a little preaching once in a while. My opinion and your opinion don’t lack importance, but rather, are often based too much on the importance in which we place upon our own opinions. Each of us is a little voice in this loud and crazy world called the “Internet,” and I daresay that your voice and my voice do matter and have value. My point, however, is that is all that our voices have become today: opinions. An opinion about this movie, an opinion about the music, the acting, the visuals in this or that film.

And I would believe that to be a neutral thing. It’s neither bad nor good that an opinion is just that: an opinion. But when does a person’s opinion become just another voiceless blog in the Internet crowd, and does it matter whether it attains to be more than that?

An old friend and I used to joke about how many views we would get on our sites. He has an entirely different site than I have–a photography one, and he doesn’t score nearly as many views on average as I do. But how many of my views are from search engines, and how many are from actual people? I brag on my film blog community–it’s the first time I think I’ve ever had a voice on the Internet. He expresses himself via photos, while I use words on a specific topic: film. What I’ve learned is that in the beginning, being heard is far more important than influence. Because in order to influence at all, you first have to be heard.

Roger Ebert would never be such a huge voice of influence, previously on TV and now on the Internet, until he got his start at age 16 as a copywriter, living in an entirely different time and world than what today’s world has become. And not only us lowly film bloggers aspire to write about film the way he does. So do the other critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Ya know, the ones we’ve never heard of, but tend to grab attention when they disagree with the mass and purposefully write some cynical review in order to gain an audience? Susman lays it out.

“Unfortunately, what the inevitable copycats took away were the elements that made for good spectacle on TV: the pithy verdict and the heated rhetoric. Pretty soon, movie reviewing on television — and in print — was something anyone with an opposable thumb could do. Audiences became lazy, demanding no more of their reviewers than thumbs-up or thumbs-down. So newspaper editors and TV news producers filled reviewer jobs with people who lacked Siskel and Ebert’s qualifications or love of movies. (You can’t imagine news bosses hiring political pundits or sports commentators just on the basis of gushing fandom or snark, but that’s often how they hire movie reviewers.) Even in magazines that prided themselves on the literary quality of their prose, reviewing and criticism became acts of performance, meant to show off the writer’s erudition and wit rather than to engage the movie on its own terms.”

Speaking for myself and the friends I have made on the blogosphere, I believe I speak in truth when I say that we write because we love the movies. We love the analytical process of peeling apart each element of a film and putting it back together again, the creative process of understanding how each part of a film makes it a whole, and the enjoyably lazy process of escaping into a film and not thinking a single intelligent thought for a full two hours.

We notice the little details and appreciate the inspiration books have had on film. We make fun of the Kristen Stewarts and Katherine Heigls and we never forget the scenes in the movies that make us hold back a few tears so our friends don’t think we’re weird for crying. We love movies because they’re complicated and full of complexity, and at their foundation, are just simple entertainment that are fun to watch.

I’ve watched Ebert on his TV show since I can remember, and when he lost his ability to talk, I arduously followed his regular column on the Chicago Sun-Times. I still do, probably like many of you. Ebert believes that we live in “the golden age of movie critics.” Everything has moved on to blogging. When I first read that, I thought, Oh no, that must be a bad thing. Ebert doesn’t think so. Perhaps because he’s found some film blogs out there worth his time. In his article about this golden age, he praises many of the young critics he has found. In fact, he even offers great advice, first given by a friend of his named David Thompson, about whether or not a person with a love and interest in film, ought to pursue a career in it. Both Thompson and Ebert reached the same conclusion, summed up in one line:

“Don’t train for a career–train for a life.”

I’ve also often read and heard the popular cliche that you must write what you know. WordPress offers lots of cute little ditties after you publish a post, often some general and witty quotes about writing. I don’t remember the exact quote, but I do remember the gist of one of the sayings went along the lines of, “the greatest ideas for writing come to you not when you’re sitting down at your desk, but when you’re out living.”

I couldn’t agree more. I started blogging way back when because I loved writing. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about then, so my posts were much more limited. Even on days when I’m facing a little bit of writer’s block, I’m assured that tomorrow or next week, I’ll have something to write about, because the film world keeps turning. It doesn’t stop. And I love that aspect about writing and blogging as well. There will always be something to write about. There will always be something to blog about. And when I need inspiration, I turn to my friends’ blogs, and I read Roger Ebert’s blog, and wonder if someday I’ll be able to write to the level he does. I guess it’s not so important to be able to write like one of the world’s top film critics. As a writer, as long as you write about what you love, what else matters?

If My Life Were a Movie

What if your life were a . . .  movie?

OK, I agree . . . that’s a highly implausible possibility, but who says we can’t be dreamers? I’m not one for self-indulgence, but every now and then, it’s fun to imagine what my life would be like if it were a movie . . .

Cast List

Female Lead (playing me)

  • First choice: Emma Stone
  • Second choice: Anna Kendrick
Reason for choices: No actress who is my age has handled dorkiness (House Bunny), drama (The Help), or comedy (Superbad) better than Emma Stone. She’s miles prettier than I am, but I couldn’t imagine anyone else able to play me. My second choice is Anna Kendrick because she’s great at playing awkward. And well, sometimes, I am just awkward.

Male Lead (playing opposite me)

  • First choice: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Second choice: John Krasinski
Reason for choices: Who else but Joseph Gordon-Levitt? I love him in every film he’s in. I think he brings something new and fresh to the table in all of his roles. That, and he’s hot. John Krasinski looks like the everyday guy that almost any girl wouldn’t mind falling in love with. I know I wouldn’t mind.

Dear ‘Ol Dad

  • First choice: Colin Firth
  • Second choice: Steve Carell
Reason for choices:  After seeing Colin Firth in What a Girl Wants, I knew I would be perfectly fine if he were my dad. On the other hand, Steve Carell is an entirely different choice. He can make the littlest things entertaining, yet he still has an endearing side to him that would make him an excellent father figure.

Mother Dearest

  • First choice: Susan Sarandon
  • Second choice: Meryl Streep
Reason for choices: It’s hard to describe what it is about Susan Sarandon that assures me she would make the perfect mom. She just seems like she’d be an awesome, fun mom. Meryl Streep is my second choice–I think I’d like her just for all her cooking in Julie & Julia, even though Julia’s a character. She seems like someone who’d have a lot of wisdom to offer.

Really Strange, But Awesome Sibling

  • First choice: Andy Samberg
  • Second choice: Adam Scott
Reason for choices: Andy Samberg embodies “strange, but awesome,” in my opinion. He has a bit of a douchey side to him in most movies he’s been in, yet he’s hilarious as heck on Saturday Night Live. Between Parks and Rec and Friends with Kids, I could only imagine Adam Scott as the perfect second choice to play a funny, but awesome older brother character.  

Crazy Uncle

  • First choice: Jim Carrey
  • Second choice: Jack Black
Reason for choices: Jim Carrey is known to be one crazy, hilarious dude, although I think he has a great handle on dramas too. He’s great at playing a variety of characters. Is it really necessary for me to explain either of my choices in this category? You tell me!

Villain of the Story

  • First choice: Ryan Seacrest
  • Second choice: Kristen Stewart
Reason for choices: Ryan Seacrest may sound like a nutty first choice for the villain, but one has to imagine he has to have some anger and frustration from hosting American Idol. Plus, I’d love to see the guy let loose and go crazy. Kristen Stewart . . . she already has the face down. She looks angry at the world.

Comic Relief

  • First choice: Aziz Ansari
  • Second choice: Neil Patrick Harris
Reason for choices: Aziz Ansari is hilarious. Few will ever deny this. Although I had a rather late introduction to him (30 Minutes or Less), he is comedy gold. From being an avid fan of How I Met Your Mother, I’ve learned that Neil Patrick Harris is one of the funniest dudes out there. Either making cameos or playing some small role as comic relief would be awesome.

Director

  • First choice: Marc Webb
  • Second choice: Nancy Meyers
  • Third choice: Cameron Crowe
Reason for choices: I’m still really all over the place with who I would choose as director. Hence, why I chose three different people. Marc Webb is responsible for directing one of my favorite movies of all time, and many of you already know what that is–(500) Days of Summer. For someone to incorporate that much reality into a film, with well-developed characters, yet somehow still include a musical dance number and make a film as endearing as it is? I can’t imagine a better director. Nancy Meyers is another fun choice because I’ve very much enjoyed several of her films, especially The Holiday and It’s Complicated. I think she really knows how to make a full, in-depth film with a female protagonist without making it feel too chick-flicky or overly romantic. She seems to be one of the few female directors out there who really has a specific vision, and when you see the film, you know that it’s a Nancy Meyers film. My final choice is Cameron Crowe. He would have been my first choice if I thought he could incorporate more comedy, but I see Crowe as a director who has a lot of heart and definitely some drama. And that’s what I love about him.

Film Composer

  • First choice: Hans Zimmer
  • Second choice: Nancy Wilson
  • Third choice: Henry Jackman
Reason for choices: Hans Zimmer is a master. He’s brilliant at developing new, ear-catching themes that outlast even some of the films he has scored for. Ultimately, Zimmer is my first choice to score a film. Nancy Wilson, although more of a rocker with far less experience, is still a talented musician with the ability to create a beautiful score, such as her work for Elizabethtown. Henry Jackman may sound like a strange third choice–I mean, why shouldn’t I choose someone far more experienced, like James Newton Howard or Alan Silvestri or Danny Elfman, all of whom I love? Jackman may has less experience, but he’s great at what he does. And he’s newer to the film score drawing board, similarly matching myself in that I’m still young. After falling in love with his work on X-Men: First Class score, I decided he would be a great back-up plan.

Theme Song

  • First choice: “Uncharted,” by Sara Bareilles
  • Second choice: “Ironic,” by Alanis Morisette
Reason for choices: I’m not as great as coming up with a good theme song. Instead of thinking long and hard about it, I just picked a couple songs in my library that I like a lot. I think both songs describe a lot of my own feelings about my life, so that’s helpful. I guess I could have chosen “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness. Wahaha.

Genre

  • Primary genre: Comedy
  • Secondary genre: Drama
  • Optional addition: Musical number
Reason for choices: No matter how I look at my life, through the big highs and lows, there always seems to be someone who finds things about me hilarious. I’ve always been attracted to people with a good sense of humor, comedy TV shows and movies, and I’ve even attended a small share of stand-up comedy.

What can I say? Sometimes I think the greatest escape to reality is surrounding yourself with people and media that can make you laugh. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve also had my share of drama. And I mean, honestly, whose life doesn’t at least have a little unwanted drama in it? And just because I love musicals so much, I think there just has to be musical number thrown in, just for good measure.

I tried to think of some nifty titles, but nothing came to mind. So I guess all of THAT will just have to do. I must admit, I had a tons of fun putting this together. So now, it’s YOUR turn, people!

If your life were a movie, who would you cast as yourself? and opposite you? Any specific director or cinematographer or costume designer you’d demand? What kind of genre would it be? Share it, or copy and paste mine and fill it in with your own choices! Add and take away what people you would include. What do you think of my choices? 

Five Memorable Courtroom Scenes

I feel like I should be writing a “Phenomenal 5” post for Keith of Keith and the Movies, who is currently keeping it real in none other than Paris, France right now. However, inspiration for this post spurned from finally getting around to a little movie called To Kill a Mockingbird. How I have not seen it until now comes as a great surprise to me too. But what’s the line? Oh, right, “better late than never.”

Placed in no purposeful order, here are five memorable courtroom scenes in movies.

To Kill a Mockingbird

The courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most intense and emotional scenes in the film. We hear statements from all the witnesses, and Brock Peters, who plays Tom Robinson, gives a heartfelt, honest account of what really happened. Following all the witness accounts, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) challenges the jury to do the right thing, concluding his speech with the famous words, “In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson.”

Legally Blonde

This list would not be complete without including Legally Blonde. Dressed head to toe in her theme color, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) takes on the role of lawyer and solves a case that a girl cut only from the cloth of an Elle Woods type would know. Too bad they went ahead and made a sequel. That was a disaster waiting to happen. And that isn’t me being biased because I’m a brunette, k?

Miracle on 34th Street

What’s more memorable than a lawyer arguing the realness of Santa Clause in court? I actually really enjoyed both the original 1947 film as well as the 1994 remake. You can’t help but feel a little warm and giddy inside when men start carrying all the mail addressed to Santa into the courthouse, or not crack up a little when the opposing lawyer’s son is used to support the existence of good ‘ol Saint Nick.

A Few Good Men

The line “You can’t handle the truth” is one of the most well-known lines to come from a film, delivered by a deliciously slimy and arrogant Jack Nicholson. The back and forth between Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) engrosses viewers as Kaffee defends innocent men on trial who were following orders. A Few Good Men is one of my favorite Tom Cruise films, and I believe it makes up some of his best work.

Liar Liar

If you’ve seen Liar Liar, it’s practically impossible to forget the courtroom scene from the movie. Fletcher Reed (Jim Carrey) is forced to tell the truth, and well, being a lawyer . . . that doesn’t make easy for your job, especially someone who lies as often as he does. The physical comedy Carrey is able to produce is incomparable, and while over the top, is hilarious and very much a trademark of Carrey’s acting.

What are your favorite courtroom scenes? Which ones are the most memorable to you, and why?

My Go-To Movies

There is a sense, one must admit, that when a person goes through any major time in life, that that person searches for inspiration or encouragement or any major emotion in the different seasons life offers. For me, I’m one to look to the movies. Movies is not my answer to problems, but I will say that movies certainly ease pain, distract, and act as an excellent escape from the demons in my mind at times.

Here’s a list of some of the movies I go to first when I need a laugh or a little inspiration.

Go-To Funny Flicks

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
The Hangover

Happy Gilmore
Jim Carrey anything
School of Rock
She’s the Man

Go-To Chickflicks

(500) Days of Summer
Elizabethtown
The Holiday
Never Been Kissed

Notting Hill
The Wedding Date

Go-To Inspirational Films

50/50
The Artist
Cast Away
Good Will Hunting
Jerry Maguire

Go-To Psychological Thrillers

Anything Christopher Nolan directed
The Matrix
Vanilla Sky
Equilibrium

Go-To Action Flicks

Back to the Future 1 & 2
Inception
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible
 1, 3 & 4 

 

Out of all those movies listed, Elizabethtown is probably the movie I go to the most in all different times and seasons of my life. There are zillions of other movies that I love, but these are the ones that immediately came to mind for me when I need a “go-to” movie. Go-to movies are different for everyone–we all gain inspiration, get a good laugh, or find ourselves mesmerized by different films. These are mine.

What are your go-to movies? Which movie have you rewatched the most? Do you ever get more out of a movie the 10th, 18th, or 39th time watching?

Music by Movie Association

I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a while, so I’m happy to finally be getting to it. I didn’t realize how much of the music I actually listen to today is from film. It’s not just my ever growing collection of film scores that invade my iPod. I’ve been listening to some sweet tunes I never would have considered if it weren’t for certain films. Do you ever hear a song and you’re immediately thinking of a movie you heard it in? It happens to me all the time. Different songs and scenes are memorable to everyone for different reasons. This is a smattering of songs I either immediately associate with certain movies when I hear them, or just had to buy when I heard them in a movie.

“The Sound of Fear” by Eels in Yes Man

This scene is just hilarious. Oh Jim Carrey.

“Yes Man” by Munchausen by Proxy (Zooey Deschanel & Von Iva) in Yes Man

OK, I believe this is an original song made for the film, so I haven’t actually heard this anywhere. But it is another awesome song from Yes Man. Basically, I LOVE the soundtrack from that film. It’s just hilarious and awesome and totally different. Check it out! And this video is the actual performance, uncut.

“Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” by John Legend in Think Like a Man

This song doesn’t fall into my typical taste of music, but I really, really like this song. It’s just really good.

“Pennies from Heaven” by Rose Murphy in The Artist

“Pennies from Heaven” is the only song in The Artist that has words. And aside from one or two words in the film, it serves as the only “dialogue” to take place in the film.

“(I Just) Died in Your Arms” by Cutting Crew in Never Been Kissed  (and everything else)

This song is basically in a ton of movies. It’s a great movie song, and it was very fitting for the scene in Never Been Kissed. What other movies have you heard this song in?

“She’s So High” by Tal Bachman in She’s Out of My League

Every time I hear this song, I associate it with the movie. I think the song works in a literal way with the plot, which makes it memorable. Also, this music video is really weird.

“Linger” by The Cranberries in Click

Such a bizarre movie to think of The Cranberries, but I do.

“You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates in (500) Days of Summer

Seriously, who doesn’t think of (500) Days of Summer when this song plays? One of the coolest scenes from the film.

“O Children” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I had heard of Nick Cave before I saw the movie, but this Harry Potter movie was the first I had heard “O Children.” The scene is nowhere to be found in the book from what I hear, but it’s an interesting scene with a great song to accompany it, nonetheless.

What songs do you guys associate with movies? Do you have any favorites?

AEOS Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

And . . . I’m back! It’s felt like forever since I blogged on AEOS, and I’m happy to be back after a very rough month. How’s everyone been? I’ve been able to check out posts by several of you when I’ve found the time. Bear with me as I get my footing again these next couple weeks. Originally when I set out to blog regularly, I didn’t take into account how difficult it would be to post that regularly with my current schedule. This time around, I plan to post 2-3 posts/week. If I ever reel more than that out, then I will just count myself lucky 🙂 OK, let’s get on with it already . . .

The most recent film I have watched has been rookie director Rupert Sanders’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Expectations were flying high with all the marketing and comparisons to that of the inferior Mirror, Mirror, the other of two takes on the fairytale classic. What can I say? I felt let down. A below average rating on Rotten Tomatoes (46%)  confirmed that this Snow White fell short of the mark, despite having some positive aspects to it.

Chemical Imbalance

There probably isn’t a better way to describe the film than that is was all over the place. The tone, the score, the characters . . . everything was constantly shifting, lacking an overall center to bring the film together as a whole. There was an imbalance that made the film fall flat. The actors did the best they could to show heart and express emotion, but I didn’t really care because they were under-developed. The script really dragged the story down, not giving the actors much to work with in the beginning, using recycled plot devices to carry the story through.

What came as a big disappointment to me was the score. I normally dig the work of James Newton Howard, even when I don’t care for the movie he scored for. But in this case, the score was all over the place, reflecting the movie’s primary issue.

Character Actors

Charlize Theron is one impressive character actor. She seems to know exactly how to play your average, everyday gal, as well as an evil queen desperate to retain her beauty. The make-up transformations were stellar, showing the effects of her aging. Theron embodied the necessary evil to play this creepy character.

Then you have an actor like Chris Hemsworth, who is still establishing himself, having only been in a few films and being known primarily for another character, Thor. I thought Hemsworth did a pretty good job. Although he was never known as anything more than “Huntman” and rocked an accent that made it difficult to detect what he was saying in parts, he did what he could with what he had to work with. Hemsworth lacks no heart or emotion in expressing himself, and that came through in his Huntsman performance.

As for Kristen Stewart . . . given my high dislike for the Twilight series and her association with it, it makes it difficult to judge her without making some kind of comparison. Unfortunately, she probably won’t be able to ever separate herself fully from the films. But putting that aside (as much as is possible!), I found myself impressed with the physicality of her role. Although a stunt person probably filled in for a lot of the hard parts, I can imagine the role was physically difficult for her, whether she was riding a horse, fighting, swimming, jumping off a cliff, or sliding into a sewer. As for the acting? There was a deafness to her performance. I really felt like she tried, but ultimately failed in giving a great performance. Perhaps with more opportunities she will be able to slowly slip away from her Twilight association and move into roles with more depth. That being said, I think Stewart wasn’t terrible. And that’s an improvement.

Channeling Aragorn

I couldn’t help but feel like Stewart was channeling Aragorn from Lord of the Rings during the second half of the film. Rallying the troops, leading the Duke and people into battle (without proper head gear, no less), and being crowned queen in the end. I was ready for her to look at the hobbits dwarves and say “You bow to no one.”

There were other moments when I felt like I was watching a rip-off version of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but perhaps so many films borrow and share themes, that it was difficult to not have those thoughts while watching. When Snow White and crew came riding in on the beach, I felt like the they were attempting to breech Helm’s Deep. The relationship between Snow White and the Queen made me think of Harry Potter and Voldemort. My sister did not appreciate my continuous commentary on such comparison during the film. I digress.

Saviors and Sinking Ship

The visuals were the savior of the film. Both the visual and special effects were stunning. The queen’s aging, the mirror, the scene in the fairy world–all were captivating to watch. One scene in particular that I appreciated was when the Queen tricked Snow White by channeling the Duke’s son. It was the first and only time I found myself surprised the entire film. I already knew Snow White would somehow kill the Queen by blocking with one arm and stabbing her with the other until her soul left. Too bad. I wasn’t even trying to call plot points.

Aside from the visual prowess, the film was average at best. I credit screenwriters Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock for dragging down the already sinking ship.

What did you think of the film? What parts did you like, and which ones could have been better?