Friday, June 2, 2017

What I Think of the Three Live-Action Fairy Tails I Just Saw

Don't worry, I'll get back to the Travel Blog, but I want to make a quick note of this.

Turkish Airlines has a fabulous selection of movies to watch (including Ant-Man!) and on the list (under the category of blockbusters, incidentally) were Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter War, and the live-action Beauty and the Beast. I had seen most of SWH before, but never watched it all the way through; as to HWW, I only knew of the two trailers, and I never even bothered with live-action BB, but I heard some very bad reviews about it.

On the trip over, I watched SWH all the way through. It's pretty much everything I expected... Snow White is bland, the evil queen is worse, and basically the only redeeming characters were the Huntsman and William, although I never bought the romance between Snow White and the Huntsman (I actually forgot the Huntsman was the one who was supposed to kiss SW). The plot was a bare bones plot with I think more scenic shots than actual dialogue or story. The comic relief was more stupid than funny. The fairy realm came out of nowhere and made no sense, but it looked cool, and there were a few cool shots of castles and mountains and what have you. Meh.

On the flight back, I watched BB. Obviously I had low expectations for it, but I was absolutely amazed. I clearly underestimated Disney's ability to make a bad movie out of a good story. The biggest problem I had was that every single person (except Emma Thompson, the teapot) very strongly resembled a child's windup toy. How they walk, speak, sing, dress, whatever, all made me feel like I was watching a windup toy display. There was almost no energy and no passion. For example, when Maurice was running away from wolves - wolves! - he does a lot of mild chuckling; I think he yells in fear once. Then there was that scene right after Gaston proposes to Belle, which is practically identical to the original cartoon; in the cartoon, I think that's one of Belle's angriest moments, but in this, Emma Watson just sounds bored. Gaston was the only mildly interesting character, and even then, only sometimes.

Another thing about BB that really infuriated me was the way they handled those crowd conversations. You know how in the opening song, you get shots of these random conversations all around the town, in different places, with different people, thereby getting a wider view of the town? In this movie, they all happen in about four square feet of each other, and between like a quarter of the people. And it's not like they were short on extras, so I don't know what was up with that. It just felt so much smaller and cheaper, and it sure didn't look like they put the same amount of effort in. The other crowd scenes are all pretty similar, but that opening one was the worst.

And finally, one more thing that drives me crazy: the very good ideas they had that were never fulfilled. The one that really gets under my skin was that every time a rose petal fell, part of the castle crumbled and the people inside got a little more like their inanimate selves (the feather duster grew more feathers, the candle couldn't bend his knees as well, the clock chimes, etc.). That is a very good idea that we see happen all of twice in the movie, once when it was introduced and once at the very end. That was it. Also, after it was introduced, the differences were completely unnoticeable for the rest of the movie; the candle's knees wouldn't squeak, the clock didn't keep chiming, the father duster didn't drop more feathers, etc. So basically, it was mentioned, forgotten, I think mentioned once more when they were explaining the curse to Belle, forgotten again, and then becomes part of the climax. Seriously? That was such a good idea, and it was all but wasted! There were a few others as well, but that's the one that annoyed me the most.

Part of the reason this gets under my skin is that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie. It was also one of the first DVD's we ever bought - I remember about the time my Dad installed our first DVD player, someone gave us Beauty and the Beast and Monster's Inc, and those were the first DVD's we watched. So Beauty and the Beast is near and dear to my heart. This thing that came out is cheap-looking and way below anything Disney is capable of. There are a few interesting things and the occasional interesting song (still sung weakly, but interesting anyway) that made it watchable, but nothing made it good.

Which brings me to HWW. And that was ... actually, it was pretty good. Do keep in mind that I had pretty low standards at this point, but to my utter astonishment, this movie actually had a story. As in, a full story that filled up the movie's run time and even made sense. It's not a particularly contained story, as in, it's all over the place, but the progression from place to place actually worked out. The comic relief was still more stupid than funny, but there was so much less of it, thank you! The villains were terribly dull - they speak in these slow, trance-like voices the entire time, except for the occasional screech from Ravenna. Also, I wouldn't have called this Winter War, because the "winter war" part of it lasts for about 25 minutes. I would have called it Huntsman and the Mirror, or something similar, because the mirror had more to do with the story than "winter war" did, but whatever. And finally, there was a lot of stuff in it that doesn't really belong in a fairy tail... this was definitely a more adult version of a fairy tail than SWH. But, all in all, it was pretty decent - for the low standards I set.

Well, that's it. My plane is boarding - got to go!