Well, if you know me, you know I tend to be a little bit obsessive about movies. and I always have something to say about everything. So, here are some movie notes from the amazing cinematic summer we have had! (some spoilers ahead, sorry)
p.s. the blog title comes from…..10 Things I Hate About You…before Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were superstars. 🙂
1. SNOW WHITE and the HUNTSMAN
– Clearly, no one should have had very high hopes of any movie with Kristen Stewart in a leading role. I love the Twilight movies, but I don’t pretend they are “good” movies, and I humbly forfeit arguments with people who don’t like them. However, I was still really excited about Snow White and the Huntsmen, especially as it was cast as the “darker” representation of the trend of re-doing fairy tales (compared to “Red Riding Hood” and “Mirror Mirror”). And I liked the movie, overall, I thought it was interesting and worth watching. Walking away after the film, I felt disappointed about something, and upon further thought, I realized it’s because there were several points in the film where I felt that there should have been emotional reunions between Snow White and one of the two male leads. I was looking for that fairy tale romance to find its way into the film, and it wasn’t really there. However, the more I considered this, the more I was glad for the filmmaker’s choice in this direction. I really appreciated this particular uniqueness in the film – rarely in Hollywood do we find a film with two strong female leads, much less two beautiful female leads without noteworthy romantic attachments within the plot. There were hints, certainly, but that wasn’t the focus of either of the characters of Snow White or Ravenna, the evil queen. A moment of pause for the fabulous woman that is Charlize Theron. I thought she stole the show with her performance that made you want to know what her story really was, particularly, I’m sorry to say, in contrast to the rather shallow acting from Kristen Stewart. There were some great, albeit predictable, messages about the importance of inner beauty throughout. Applause to you, movie makers.
2. The AVENGERS
– First,I read this awesome article by Alex Wilgus on Relevant about the movie and loved how he broke down the characters this way:
1. Captain America is Patriotism -He’s blond-haired, blue-eyed and literally wears the Stars and Stripes. There’s no more obvious representative of conservative America than this. He’s the literal embodiment of the Greatest Generation, a believer in simple truth, justice and down-home corn-fed traditionalism. He’s “Am’rica” (omitting the overly educated second syllable). Morality’s not too hard for Cap, but his oversimplifications make it hard on everyone else who didn’t skip over the last 70 years.
2. Iron Man is Corporate America -He’s Steve Jobs; brilliant, eccentric, arrogant and driven. He’s an individualist who built his empire with his own brain, and refuses to be controlled by any interests other than his own. His development of a conscience in the last two movies harks back to the high-powered philanthropy of Bill Gates and Bono, but like most high-profile do-gooders, he’s flawed, inconsistent and often unruly.
3. The Hulk is Scary Science -Nuclear threat, artificial intelligence research, human cloning—all the paranoias of our modern age roll up into one green monster capable of doing serious damage to humankind, or protecting it from other threats. The scientific wonders of our age have the potential to change the world for good or ill, and it all depends on who’s in its way when it goes off.
4. Thor is Religion -Out of touch, magisterial, mythological and impractical would be good words to describe the secular perception of organized religion. Thor too is from another world, from a magical land in the sky with his own code of ethics and behavior. His concerns are often broader than the situation at hand. He does, however, claim to smite evil with a divine hammer.
5. S.H.I.E.L.D. is the Government -Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and all the other “expendable crewmen” are a fictionalized, representation of government agencies. They’re a system, who often find their procedures challenged by the inclusion of the exceptional people they employ.
But still we watch. Director Joss Whedon is no man out of time. He knows the age of unqualified optimism in which these heroes were born is long past, and that we are more comfortable with a tortured Dark Knight than a guy with Old Glory on his chest. But he is also smart enough to know that those glimmers of optimism have not faded completely from the American mind. So he has made a film that addresses our disillusionments with our institutions by imbuing their spirits into our heroes: they are often self-centered, unrealistic, rigid and sectionalist. Most of the film’s tension comes from the question: Can they get along and work together? He then gives us the wham-bang finale of a unified America fighting as one. It’s enough to make your hair stand on end.
– Also, read this sweet blog post about the portrayal of women both in the movie and reacting to the movie. Super interesting!
– The group of people with which I usually attend movies, especially midnight showings, is a bunch of guys who know WAY more than me about every comic book and graphic novel that the great movies are based on. We always stand around talking after the movie and I love hearing what them compare notes and discuss the differences that were present. I rarely have anything to contribute to these conversations, aside from my random Johnny-5 movie trivia comparing actors to other roles or something equally as helpful. However, I would like to make note that I CALLED it with the inescapable comparison between the summer’s two blockbusters – Avengers and Dark Knight Rises – in the sense that there is NO comparison. They are two completely different films with different intentions and different creators. Apples and Oranges, would be the correct description. And this blog summed that up well.
3. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
– If you’ve talked to me any time in the last four years since “The Dark Knight” came out, you’ve heard me rant about one of two particular notes with this movie:
1) No villain (or anyone else, for that matter) will ever top Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker (I stand by this, still. Don’t get me started.)
2) I shudder at the idea of criticizing a cinematic magician like Christopher Nolan, but I think he made a mistake in the death of Harvey “Two-Faced” Dent in TDK. If you’ll remember, in the film, Batman threatens mob boss Sal Maroni by dropping him from a ledge, and this is their interaction- Maroni: “From one professional to another, if you’re trying to scare somebody, pick a better spot. From this height, the fall wouldn’t kill me.” Batman: “I’m counting on it.” [he drops Maroni off the ledge, breaking his legs] Then later in the film, Harvey Dent and Batman fall from a very comparable height and Batman lives but Dent dies? I wouldn’t surmise that Nolan missed this, but I disagree with what I think was a conscious choice of his not to take advantage of the opportunity to foreshadow Dent’s survival. Also, when Dent flips his coin to determine his own survival, doesn’t his coin land on the “live” side? I think I’m mad that I caught this in the film and then Nolan didn’t cash in on it and I’m disappointed. Plus, I think casting Aaron Eckhart was one of MANY great choices made by TDK makers, and I wanted him to return. IMDB notes that Eckhart expressed interest in returning as Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, but that Nolan stated that Dent was definitely dead, and that his death would leave lasting repercussions across Gotham. That’s more of a Dark Knight rant, but it had its final repercussions for me in the lack of an appearance by this character in the third piece of the trilogy.
– I’m always fascinated by the underlying issues that filter through any of Christopher Nolan’s films. I read that The Dark Knight Rises completes the trilogy by dealing with the theme of “Pain”. For Batman Begins, it was on “Fear”, while The Dark Knight deals on “Chaos”. I love re-watching the movies with these themes in mind and seeing the way it weaves through so well.
– I know some still haven’t made it to the theater to see it yet, so I’ll leave out the spoilers for now, but suffice to say that despite some of the less-than-surprising “twists”, the ending of the trilogy doesn’t disappoint. I loved the ending and shamelessly cheered as it concluded. After careful consideration, though, which will surely be supplemented by seeing it several more times in theater, I’ve decided that I won’t leave “Team Dark Knight” as the best of the three. J