Posts Tagged ‘Chris Hemsworth’

Neon Inspired Family Feud

Thor: Ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Ray Stevenson, Scarlett Johansson, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Taika Waititi

New Zealand director Taika Waititi was Oscar nominated back in 2005 for his Live Action Short film Two Cars, One Night.

Marvel Studios recruited him to inject new life into the Thor films and that he certainly does with Thor: Ragnarok, a neon inspired family feud of mythical proportions featuring Thor played again by hunky Australian actor Chris Hemsworth along with his pesky brother Loki played by Tom Hiddleston and new addition to the family Hela played with vampish delight by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Blue Jasmine).

Thor returns to Asgard only to discover that Loki has banished Odin, their father to a virtual retirement home. Upon a brief visit, the brothers discover that Odin, wonderfully played with a sombre delight by Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) has got an elder daughter Hela who was banished from Asgard for being the Goddess of Death and wreaking havoc on the nine realms.

Cate Blanchett relishes her role as Hela, the Goddess of Death, inspired by Maleficent and certainly quite intent on destroying her defiant younger brothers.

Thor and Loki land up on a weird dystopian outer planet overseen by the demonic Grand Master, a superbly camp performance by Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), who immediately instructs Thor to fight in a massive arena against a formidable beast: The Hulk. Enter Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, played with bewildering amusement by Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Foxcatcher, Spotlight).

Eventually Thor gets Loki, The Hulk and a hard-drinking Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson last seen in the HBO series Westworld, to return to Asgard to defeat the demonic Hela who is assisted by a reluctant henchman Skurge played by Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek and The Loft).

The only criticism is that the middle section of Thor: Ragnarok detracts from the film’s central narrative, which is essentially a legendary family conflict.

Thor: Ragnarok is a fun-filled comic book film which thankfully does not take itself or the characters too seriously and is a clear indication that Marvel films are definitely trying to create memorable characters for the lucrative toy manufacturing market just before Christmas.

As with all the latest Marvel films, franchise opportunities abound. Thor: Ragnarok is light-hearted and hellishly entertaining. Audiences should look out for a great cameo by Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as the illusive Doctor Strange.

If audiences enjoyed The Avengers and the first two Thor films, then they will definitely savour Thor: Ragnarok which is comically inspired from another Marvel hit franchise, The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Thor: Ragnarok gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Mastering your Demons

Doctor Strange

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Director: Scott Derrickson

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stulbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Chris Hemsworth

Marvel is certainly expanding their cinematic universe at a rapid rate. First it was The Avengers and then The Guardians of the Galaxy and now they have turned their attention to the mystical antihero Doctor Strange, transforming the comic book character into a visually dazzling film version by director Scott Derrickson.

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Heavily influenced by Christopher Nolan’s surreal city scape bending visuals in his 2010 blockbuster Inception, Doctor Strange is a spectacular anti-hero film centred on an arrogant neurosurgeon wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game).

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As the film begins, audiences catch a glimpse of Doctor Strange medical expertise as well as his supreme arrogance and wealth. However all that suave egotistical bravado comes crashing down when he plunges his sports car off a cliff outside New York City and soon loses all nerve sensations in his hand.

At first he is naturally devastated and despite being comforted by sometime lover and co-worker Dr Christine Palmer, played by Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Doctor Strange sets off for an alternative cure prompted by a meeting with a miracle paraplegic Jonathan Pangborn played by Benjamin Bratt (Love in the Time of Cholera, Traffic).

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Naturally the action shifts to Kathmandu, Nepal, where Doctor Strange is introduced to the mystical arts by the shaven head guru The Ancient One, superbly played by Oscar winner Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton). The best dialogue in the film are reserved for Cumberbatch and Swinton as The Ancient One strips Doctor Strange of his arrogance and he discovers a mystical world of parallel universes and scriptures written in ancient languages.

Soon Doctor Strange takes a liking to a flying crimson cape and has sideburns to match Frankenstein. With a new mystical persona, Doctor Strange delves into pure fantasy with brilliant mind bending visual effects to match.

The Visual Effects are so inspiring that they should get an Oscar on their own. In this case Doctor Strange has come up trumps with a perfect cast, most of them Oscar nominees and winners and a strong narrative which establishes more films in the Defenders Universe.

As the action shifts to Hong Kong, Doctor Strange with the help of Mordo played by Oscar Nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Wong played by Benedict Wong, this diverse mystical trio must battle the evil and embittered Kaecilius played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) who is intent on unleashing dark forces on planet earth in a bid to achieve immortality.

Doctor Strange is visually brilliant and superbly acted by the cast, due to some clever casting choices by Marvel Studios. The fact that Tilda Swinton, initially known for her art house films like Sally Potter’s Orlando and Benedict Cumberbatch seen in British period films like Atonement and Creation are both in a Marvel’s Anti-Hero movie is testament to how seriously the film studio takes their brand as they continuously expand all the various superhero franchises and even delve into quirky Sci-Fi.

Audiences must stay seated after the credits as Doctor Strange has an unexpected meeting with Asgard’s protector…

Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy all of Marvel’s films or would love to visit Comicon.

 

 

Sisters of No Mercy

Huntsman: The Winters War

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Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Nick Frost, Alexandra Roach, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith

The evil queen stakes just got higher in the prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, Huntsman: Winter War which is directed by French visual effects supervisor turned director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. His previous visual effects credits include Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Snow White and the Huntsman and Solstice.

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Australian actor Chris Hemsworth returns as Erik the Huntsman along with South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) as the vicious queen Ravenna.

New to the cast are Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar) as Erik’s estranged wife Sara and an equally evil queen, Ravenna’s sister the Ice Queen Freya wonderfully played by Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Into the Woods).

Interestingly this is a female action film and that’s why Huntsman: Winters War works so well although it’s not as good as the original 2012 Rupert Sanders film Snow White and the Huntsman.

Visually, Huntsman is quite dazzling especially in the second half of the film, and director Cedric Nicholas-Troyan makes full use of all the latest CGI available especially when the gorgeous Ravenna emerges out of the illustrious gold mirror looking fabulous.

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In actual fact Ravenna’s outfit, which Charlize Theron naturally uses to its full potential is sure to inspire many a drag queen in the future, wonderfully emboldened with beautiful eye make-up and a fabulous gold head dress to match, a rival to Angelina Jolie’s outfits in Maleficent. Simply gorgeous. Who cares if she is an evil queen, when she looks so stunning!

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Jessica Chastain is suitably bold and kickass as Erik’s opinionated wife who manages to save his life from a collection of hideous goblins which looked as if they escaped from the set of Pan’s Labyrinth.

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Emily Blunt is wonderful as Ravenna’s younger sister Queen Freya whose heart has been turned to ice by the sudden and inexplicable death of her baby daughter who she naturally blames her husband for.

Audiences should watch out for British comedian Nick Frost as a smart-mouthed dwarf Nion and Alexandra Roach as Doreena last seen in Cuban Fury and The Iron Lady as well as Sam Claflin as William, Freya’s doomed husband.

Whilst Huntsman: Winters War is wonderful to watch, the dialogue could have been better written, yet the story is pure escapism, fantasy with a large dose of femme fatale and a couple Erik and Sara who eventually put aside their differences to defeat the evil sisters who are entirely without mercy and vicious to the core.

Huntsman: Winters War is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman and should look forward to the third instalment in a film series which was clearly designed to be part of a fantasy trilogy.

Comic Book Pastiche

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett, Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgard, Thomas Kretschmann, Julie Delpy, Andy Serkis, Anthony Mackie.

The Avengers are back in director and writer Joss Whedon’s much anticipated sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron featuring all the Marvel superheroes and some new ones in a CGI laden special effects extravaganza, which is at times confusing and other times absolutely fascinating. At a running time of two hours and twenty minutes, director Whedon has sufficient screen time to flesh out all the characters individually as well as give nuance to some of their more complicated relationships.

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Like the relationship between The Hulk, aka Bruce Banner wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) and the Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson who seems to be the only avenger that can calm the Hulk’s penchant for destructive anger.

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The relationship between goodie two shoes Steve Rogers aka Captain America, played by Chris Evans and Nordic God Thor played by the hunky Chris Hemsworth is also subtly explored considering that the former is a World War two hero and the latter from another dimension.

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as egotistical Billionaire Tony Stark, aka Iron Man and his irrepressible desire to mould any technological discovery, in this case the power artificial intelligence to his own advantage.

The Age of Ultron refers to the ubiquitous Altron a powerful A.I. force which is hell bent on human destruction and vain enough to realize that he can survive the aftermath, beautifully voiced with an underlying menace by James Spader (Bad Influence, more recently in the hit TV show The Black List).

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The sexy Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton aka Hawkeye ‘s character is fleshed out as a devoting family man which is entirely incongruous with his status as a member of the Avengers, but hey who cares?

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Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play evil orphaned Eastern European twins Pietro and Maximoff who soon turn on Ultron when they realize his megalomaniac tendencies. Even Lord of the Rings’ Andy Serkis makes an appearance as a South African mercenary Ulysses Klaue and the Johannesburg downtown sequence is truly phenomenal to watch as is the action scene in Seoul, South Korea.

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If audiences get confused with who all the avengers are, there are ample filmic references to each of their own background stories from Thor: The Dark World, including a brief appearance by Idris Elba and also Captain America’s Agent Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Marvel is indeed expanding their universe exponentially and if The Avengers: Age of Ultron’s audience figures are anything to go by, this will prove to be another superhero box office smash hit.

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron is fun entertainment and definitely aimed at Iron Man, Thor and Captain America cinema fans especially all the witty references and innuendo’s involving lifting Thor’s hammer which are neatly laced into a script which may seem convoluted but then again when it comes to Artificial Intelligence its more an infinite mess which at some point needs to be reined in.

Audiences should look out for brief cameos by Anthony Mackie, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Delpy, Don Cheadle and Thomas Kretschmann. If The Avengers: Age of Ultron appears to be a pastiche of all the previous Marvel films, then director Joss Whedon has certainly achieved the impossible, not to mention making a narrative out of the dangers of artificial intelligence plausible and entertaining.

It’s best for audiences to suspend their disbelief and enjoy The Avengers: The Age of Ultron for what it is: a comic book orgy with a giant budget and loud, awe-inspiring special effects which will be sure to nurture any young adult’s imagination for awhile.

 

 

 

A Poisonous Universe

Thor: The Dark World

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From Asgaard to Greenwich, Thor and his hammer are back in the Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World, moving the action from the arid plains of New Mexico to the nine universes along with London and Stonehenge. The immensely successful Thor in 2010 directed by Kenneth Brannagh assembled a fabulously competent cast including Oscar Winners Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) as Thor’s father Odin, King of Asgaard and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) as physicist Jane Foster along with Rene Russo as Thor’s mother Frigga and Shakespearian actor Tom Hiddleston as malevolent and destructive brother Loki.

Thor: The Dark World reassembles this cast along with Kat Dennings of Two Broke Girls TV series fame as the sharp talking Darcy Lewis for some comic relief, Stellan Skarsgaard as the mad scientist Erik Selvig seen running naked around Stonehenge and newcomer Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the evil Dark Elf who is bent on destroying all known universes through an ethereal substance known as Aether which has the power to envelope all worlds in eternal darkness constituting a thoroughly poisonous universe.

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Moving the action from sunny New Mexico in Thor to murky and grey England was a smart move for Thor: The Dark World, however this sequel whilst it has stunning visual effects but not quite to the same level as Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel, is certainly entertaining as superhero films go that the rival  Marvel studios are successfully releasing in quick succession after the huge commercial success of The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

Needless to say much of the action of Thor: The Dark World does not take place on earth so the plot is mostly action driven and there is naturally very little new character developments in the various CGI created universes with elegant and glossy Asgaard  taking the centre stage. Chris Hemsworth is naturally good as Thor, a role that will surely become synonymous with his name, but his real acting can be seen in films like Rush. Natalie Portman is fantastic and Anthony Hopkins is going through the character motions. Tom Hiddleston is brilliant as the ambivalently evil Loki set on revenge for his incarceration on Asgaard and look out for rising star Idris Elba as the celestial Asgaard gatekeeper Heimdall.

Basically Thor: The Dark World has stunning visuals, lots of action, a twisted plot without too much characterisation and basically retains its popcorn teenage audience that all the Marvel films are aiming for.

For fans of Thor, this glossy sequel not as tightly directed by Alan Taylor is thin on plot, and will not disappoint fans of the hammer wielding hunk who is part of the Avengers group. Watch out for a brief cameo by Chris Ryan as Captain America. The action is fantastic but not on the level of Pacific Rim or Man of Steel. Also starring Zachary Levi from Chuck fame along with Ray Stevenson and Jaimie Alexander. See Thor: The Dark World in a 3D cinema if possible.

Champions of the World

Rush

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Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, James Norton, Olivia Wilde, Christian McKay, David Calder, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Natalie Dormer, Pierfrancesco Favino

Oscar winning director of A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard tackles the fast and affluent world of Formula One Motor Racing in the new biographical drama Rush centering on the brutal and brash rivalry between reckless English racing driver James Hunt, gorgeously played by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth and cautious Austrian driver Niki Lauder, brilliantly played by the European actor Daniel Bruhl.

Screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen), who first collaborated with Howard on the slick film version Frost /Nixon offers a crisply written script, as the narrative of Rush doesn’t waste time showing the glamorous international and ruthless world of Formula One racing with drivers speeding around the circuits of Monaco, Kyalami, Monza, Valencia and Sao Paolo. Yet despite all the thrill, danger and spectacle, Morgan weaves a brutal and exacting tale of professional rivalry between Lauder and Hunt framed within the media-frenzied competitive jet set world of Formula One, presenting an ego driven portrait of two men at the peak of their careers, just as he did in the exemplary Frost / Nixon.

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The film’s stunning opening scene features Hunt seducing a British nurse played by Natalie Dormer (W.E.) which immediately sets the tone for the 1970’s, a decade known for easy sex, drugs and partying, providing an insight into a carefree decadent era in which the ambitious race car drivers soon graduate to Formula One. Where Lauder is mechanically minded, disciplined and ambitious, James Hunt is reckless, celebrity driven and risk seeking, a driver who is never shy to compete in an ongoing bitter global challenge to become the Number 1 World Championship Racing Car Driver.

Lauder’s wife Marlene is played by Romanian actress Alexandra Maria Lara and the gorgeous Olivia Wilde makes a stunning appearance as beautiful swish model Suzy Miller who soon becomes James Hunt’s wife, despite his reckless lifestyle. From Ibiza to Bologna, from Sao Paulo to Germany, Rush is a superbly orchestrated biopic of the rivalry between these two Champions of the World, and for all those fans of Formula One, this film is not to be missed. Especially look out for the vividly recreated infamous crash sequence that Niki Lauder is involved in as he gets trapped in a fiery Ferrari in the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany in August 1976 along with the riveting final race of the season set on a rain-soaked Japanese track in the shadow of Mount Fiji.

Spanish-German actor Daniel Bruhl best known for Inglourious Basterds is utterly believable as the goal-driven and infamously determined Austrian racing driver Niki Lauder whilst Hemsworth (Snow White and the Huntsman, Thor) proves his worth as a versatile Shakespearean trained actor producing an upper crust English accent. The real star of Rush besides the excellent script and film direction is the unbelievable sound editing, which makes this film all the more worthwhile and gripping in a Digital Cinema. Highly recommended for the glitz bravado, the incredible speed and the blood stained price of success, Rush is a well-crafted film, a winning formula that elegantly delves into a fast paced racing arena really suitable for playboys and daredevils.

A Dazzling Enterprise

Star Trek: Into Darkness

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Director J.J. Abrams dazzling reinvention of the Star Trek franchise continues with the glossy sequel to the 2009 smash hit Star Trek with Star Trek: Into Darkness, pulling together the same cast from the original and then adding the amazing talents of big screen-newcomer Benedict Cumberbatch (last seen in the extraordinary Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as the evil villain and celestial terrorist Khan, a reinvented character from the 1982 film: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek: Into Darkness opens with a spectacular volcanic sequence on a primal planet in which Captain Kirk rescues his half Vulcan friend Spock from near extinction to the 23rd century high tech metropolises such as London and San Francisco. Meanwhile back on Earth the sinister superhuman Khan destroys an Enterprise space library in central London and then wages an attack on the commanding officers of the Enterprise fleet at their Californian headquarters before fleeing Earth for a Klingon refuge on a distant planet.

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Captain Kirk played with boisterous heroism by Chris Pine and his team including Zachary Quinto as Spock, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Zoe Saldana as Uhura and ubiquitous Karl Urban as Bones, John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov head to the outer reaches of Klingon galactic territory and capture Khan, whose wily ways are only revealed as they head back towards earth. Cumberbatch is really superb as the sinister villain and far out does any of his co-stars maybe with the exception of Quinto’s slightly robotic yet sensitive Spock.

The unrequited love between Kirk and Spock is highlighted in a particularly touching scene when the dashing Captain appears to be dying in the heart of the Star Trek Enterprise and Chris Pine’s gorgeous blue eyes make the audience feel for his unfulfilled love as he seemingly expires due to radiation exposure under the mournful gaze of Quinto’s Spock.

But never fear Trekkies, Spock takes revenge on Khan and in a brilliantly orchestrated chase sequence through 23rd century San Francisco resulting in an extraordinary fight sequence aboard an industrial spacecraft, not to mention a crashing spacecraft taking out Alcatraz.

Whilst Star Trek: Into Darkness has less characterization as the 2009 Star Trek, it really is Cumberbatch’s film as he makes the villain into a truly deceptive sinister terrorist with some superb dialogue.  The rest of the supporting cast ham it up in their Trekkie uniforms without too much in depth characterization whilst the only subplot to attract minor interest is Alice Eve as the blonde weapons expert Carol channeling the Nicole Kidman look as she reveals her complex relationship with her dubious father veteran Captain Marcus played by Peter Weller from Robocop fame.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is for true sci fi fans and whilst not in the same thought-provoking existential vein as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus or Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion, it is pure glossy sci-fi entertainment and sure to remain an inspiration at future Comicon conventions , not to mention Trekkie conventions from Tokyo to Anaheim.

After all what can audiences expect from the producers of the successful Hawaii 5 0 series, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman but another action-packed brilliant bromance, however this time the visual effects and excellent sound editing triumph over characterization whilst the script retains its mythological narrative that has made the Star Trek franchise so enduring and iconic.

The Evil Queen Stakes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Vicious Vanity takes no prisoners

Director Rupert Sanders visually stunning Gothic Snow White and the Huntsman channels Gullermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the hit HBO Feudal Fantasy series Game of Thrones and ain’t no fairytale although all the elements of fantasy are evident from Trolls to Dwarves, to Knights and Fairies. The real winner of Snow White and the Huntsman is the Evil Queen Ravena played beautifully with a seriously unhinged quality by Oscar winner Benoni superstar Charlize Theron, referencing her earlier role in Monster. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize steals the show and is the backbone to this dark fantasy epic featuring Kirsten Stewart as the meek and anaemic Snow White and Thor’s hairy and gruff Chris Hemsworth as the sword wielding Huntsman sent to rescue the damsel trapped in the dark forest…

Mirror Mirror

This Queen ain’t no Bad Apple

Where the frivolous and occasionally funny Mirror Mirror spectacularly fails is the casting of goodie-two-shoes actress Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in director of The Immortals Tarsem Singh’s frothy and glossy retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror, which as a comedy is fun in parts namely due to the casting of genuine dwarves, along with Nathan Lane and Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins as the sweet and innocent Snow White, but the casting of Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen?Really?

Joan Rivers, Rupaul  or Kim Catrall could do a better job especially in this semi-Bollywood fantasy featuring  the buff Armie Hammer as the hapless but entirely vacant Prince. Wait for the end of Mirror Mirror to see the Dance number and the redeeming aspect is the fabulous costumes at the Queens Ball with Snow White as a Swan…

Unlike Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is pure feudal old world action with a dash of macabre incest, vanity and vicious magic realism. Charlize Theron steals the show as the completely off kilter pyschopathic Evil Queen who bathes in milk and whose gold mirror comes to life. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart only really comes into her role as the grubby Snow White in the second part of the film, but alas there is no chemistry between her and the Huntsman, played with less enthusiasm by Chris Hemsworth who really made an impact with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.

Mirror Mirror is suitable for pretty little girls and Snow White and the Huntsman is more closer to malignant  witchcraft appealing to a more jaded generation complete with a sinister Evil Queen hell bent in her quest for the heart of a virgin at the expense of the seven dwarfs, the occasional fairy and a hapless Troll. Charlize Theron is just that much more menacing in the evil Queen stakes and film’s final show down is visually stimulating.

 

 

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