Unsurprisingly I have a weakness for my fellow Ice Queens. I also have not been shy about my weakness for the amazingly talented and versatile Jessica Chastain. Then Hollywood gives us the sequel no one asked for from a movie four years ago, but with two enticing elements to a girl like me. Snow White and the Huntsman only made $155 million domestically ($396mm worldwide) with an estimated production budget of $170 million, and mediocre DVD sales ($50mm). With middling scores across the board (48% Critic/52% Audience) and neither a critical or financial success someone had the bright idea to go “let’s make a prequel…or a sequel. Ah hell let’s make another one.” I am almost sure they pitched it minus Kristen Stewart and her twilight baggage (an undeserved reputation). I am sure they pitched it as a franchise. The thing Hollywood as an industry is thirsty for like a lost traveller in the middle of the Sahara. Looking for the next thing they can split and create with abandon to make boat loads of money.
Did they find it here? Or is this reviewers heart like ice?
One of the writers (Craig Mazin) is responsible for Scary Movie 3 and 4, Superhero movie and Hangover 3. Evan Spiliotopoulos, the other writer brought us Hercules (the good one) and a series of Disney Sequels no one asked for either. I can easily see Evan’s work on this based on the pacing and tonal controls of Hercules ever present through out, I am trying to figure out where Mazin’s hand comes in. I’d almost be interested to find out what the writing process for this one. The story is relatively cohesive even if it is basic and borrows heavily from other similar fantastical fare. I mean a quest to destroy an all powerful gold object that can corrupt those too near it? It seems…familiar somehow. Beyond the writers comes first time director Cedric Nicolas Troyan, who has worked as a visual effects artist and supervisor on the first Snow White and The Ring, and a second unit director on Maleficent. This background does explain much of the visual splendor the movie offers over substance. Not that it is entirely style over substance, but the visuals for me were quite nice even if many were barely seen.
I would praise the actors here. Charlize Theron is magnificent as the Evil Queen once more with an air of menace that I look forward to see her in more villain roles. Emily Blunt is passable, though it isn’t her acting but what she has been given to work with. Something to lament with the other characters as well. Hemsworth is fun, smiling, and charming. Honestly, I haven’t seen that many smiles in an action movie in years. This felt more swashbuckling from his performance and I am quite ok with that; though at times he needed a good throat punch. I just wish he had kept the Irish accent the entire film. Chastain kept hers, was magnificent and was magnificently under used. More on that in a spoiler section at the bottom requiring roll over to read. Her chemistry with Hemsworth was good, not great. Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith all are at least memorable which is more than I can say about anyone else.
Technical speaking time the movie. One would think that a visual effects supervisor and second unit director might know how to let you watch a fight. One would also be wrong. One would think that he would know how to appropriately frame a shot. One would be wrong again. Now the movie is very pretty, but the shots are quick in places they need to linger. Linger in the places they need to be quick. Are far when they should be close and close when they should be far. It’s inconsistent in this as he gets some right and some wrong, but that inconsistency does make many moments lose impact they could have had and break tension when it could be ramped. The Ice was done in a way I hadn’t seen before and appreciated very much. Overall the Ice Queen was quite beautiful in her power. The set pieces evoked very specific geographic regions of the world and again I found quite beautiful. In this space the movie got it right.
Believe it or not the movie is good. It cannot, nor should not, be called great. It was simply ok. Just the right side of mediocre to have moments of entertainment. It does nothing particularly brave or adventurous with it’s plot other than remember to have fun sometimes. It is 100% paint by numbers and the palette is over used, but it isn’t used badly? It *is* better than Snow White.
I am trying to remember when more movies I saw were fun. I don’t expect it from every film, it’s not right for every movie. This needs to happen more often though. Again this is not a great movie by any stretch. Many are going to be bored by it. I have a spoiler corner with some other info below.
Should you see it?
If you have nothing else to do or are curious? Otherwise Redbox it or Netflix it.
Will Jess buy it?
Eh…probably? There’s enough that made me smile and enough beats I really enjoyed to own it.
Nothing coming out next week that I can see, but I may catch a showing of RWBY on the big screen and potentially Alien as well. So that may warrant some writing.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
TURN BACK NOW.
There is one major flaw to the movie aside from it’s pacing. Missed opportunity. Three powerful badass women. Hemsworth’s constant mugging. You had an opportunity boys behind the pen and the camera and you missed it. You didn’t take the chance to let the girls be as powerful as the boys. They were badass, but the boy wins the day. You had an opportunity to do something new. That is ultimately what sums up the movie is a missed opportunity. The one major fight sequence where Chastain is alone and you don’t do anything with it and can’t prove it’s her. Then after that she barely does anything other than look badass and “never miss”. *sigh* I won’t forgive the movie for it and it does need to be held accountable, but at least there are three powerful women a girl can look to and go “I wanna be her.” So that is a win…maybe?
RE: movies being fun.
You bring up a good point with this statement. It seems every movie these days is trying too hard to make a serious point and/or brood over itself. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to this (Deadpool, I’m looking longingly forward to your sequel) but look at the movies that have come out over the past year or two. Now identify the ones that are trying to be fun.
Yeah, I can count the ones I identify on one hand and that’s a damn shame. Granted, I haven’t been to the movies much over the past year, but that’s partly because they didn’t look like a good time.
I’m not saying that every movie needs to be happy, but it seems studios are losing sight of the primary purpose of these things – to entertain. First and foremost, if you fail to entertain you have failed. In trying to get across a point, you have lost the point.
Much like this rant. I’m done. Sorry about that.
Nothing to be sorry for. I look back at my reviews and go “what did I have fun with?”. It doesn’t matter if it was good or not, but did I have fun?! That question seems to have an abundance of no. So as boring as this movie hits sometimes, as broken as it’s editing may be….it made me smile. At least a few times. That counts these days.