Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War

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Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) have an affection for each other in The Huntsman: Winter’s War

2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman introduced a darker take on the beloved fairy tale. It was, more or less, a decent flick minus the appearance of Kristen Stewart, the inconsistent tone, and the forced humor. However, it managed to make up for it with the beautiful visuals, sets and costumes, and James Newton Howard’s score. Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron were two of the biggest highlights throughout the film. They make their return in the sequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

Originally going to be directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) before Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (who worked with the special effects from the previous film) taking his place, this movie suffers from the same problems mentioned above (except for Kristen Stewart, good riddance!). It ends being boring as hell.

Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and Freya (Emily Blunt, at her absolute worse) are two sisters living peacefully in the Enchanted Kingdom. After Freya gives birth to a baby girl, she finds out that she was killed by Andrew’s lover, which pisses her off. She flees to a kingdom up north where she builds an ice palace so she can use her ice powers whenever she pleases and build an army of children.

Two of her best suitors—Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain)—break one of her rules to never fall in love. Years later, as the sisters’ rival continues to rise, they embark on a journey with a group of dwarves in search for the Magic Mirror.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a derivative exercise in fantasy filmmaking. As nice as the movie looks, it feels like an overlong behind-the-scenes look for a Vogue shoot. There are little to no surprises to be found. Hemsworth and Chastain barely have any chemistry together (not to mention their horrendous Scottish accents). The narrative goes all over the place—from fantasy to witty comedy to action and back again—with the dialogue making a perfect lullaby. Not only that, it closely ties with Frozen that it can be qualified as a remake (and an awful one at that). Simply let this one go.

1/4

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Movie Review: Into the Woods

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The Witch (Meryl Streep) explains to the baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) on what she needs in Rob Marshall’s “Into the Woods”

While Disney is remaking their classic movies for the new generation including Kenneth Branagh’s version of Cinderella coming out in March (which I’m quite looking forward to seeing), we get something a little different. Based on Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, Into the Woods is a musical featuring characters inspired by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. following a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) wishing for a child. They encounter a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on the baker’s family tree long ago. They agree to go into the woods to end the curse three days time before the rise of the blue moon to give the witch four items: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, a hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. Along their way, they meet Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), who are out to fulfill wishes of their own.

With gorgeous sets and costumes, terrific and well-choreographed musical numbers, and a great performances from the cast (even Johnny Depp makes a big step-up from his last dreadful performance in The Lone Ranger as the Big Bad Wolf), director Rob Marshall (Chicago) and his team make a wonderful musical about having all wishes come true that is witty and charming, and surprisingly dark and twisted that is perfect for the entire family. I cannot wait to buy the soundtrack. One of 2014’s best.

4/4

2014 Summer Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise goes through a time-loop in "Edge of Tomorrow"

Tom Cruise goes through a time-loop in “Edge of Tomorrow”

Edge of Tomorrow made it to the silver screen on June 6th. In this case marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which is very fitting. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) captures the year’s most gripping action set piece as a metaphor for the attack on Normandy. Both of them taking place on a beach with enemies on different sides, and fighting until one is left standing. That’s only the beginning about this year’s best action film.

Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need is Kill, the movie takes place in the not-too-distant future where aliens (known as Mimics) are at war against humanity. Every military unit has been trying to fight them off for five years. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is summoned to London to meet up with General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson). Brigham forces him to be with the military unit after showing him a map in which the Mimics are invading Europe.

Cage is sent to the base where he will deploy the following morning. With absolutely no combat experience, Cage must follow  to follow orders by Sgt. Farell (Bill Paxton). When he lands on beach, he gets killed within minutes. He wakes up at the same place, the same day, and the same time. Realizing he is caught in a time-loop, Cage gets help from Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a Special Forces warrior, to increase his combat skills and therefore saving humanity for good.

Even though it has a similar concept to Groundhog Day, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie uses it in a different approach. Thus, making Edge of Tomorrow complex, smart, action-packed, and surprisingly funny at times. Of course, it might sound like the perfect concept for a video game; not to mention the movie’s tagline (“Live. Die. Repeat”). I forgive McQuarrie because that’s what makes the movie fun. With a complex story featuring impressive effects (i.e. the Mimics), it’s fair to pay full attention to what’s going on while Cage is in a time-loop. Even how Liman sums the story up is quite satisfying.

Almost hitting the age of 52, Tom Cruise can succeed in portraying just about anybody. In his career, he has played a vampire, a secret agent, a rock star, and a man with an older autistic brother. There is one gifted talent that he can do that most actors cannot; that is to perform his own stunts. Whether if it’s rock climbing in Utah or climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Cruise can literally push the boundaries. In Edge of Tomorrow, he never seems to run out of breath with co-stars Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton (up to par with R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket), and Brendan Gleeson. This is one of 2014’s best films.

4/4