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The story of “Hansel and Gretel” has always been one of my favorite favorite tales. One of the darkest, definitely, but it always left me feeling tough because the children outsmarted the witch in the end. Regardless of the actual moral of the story, I came away feeling that no witch was gonna mess with me. So, to be honest, I was excited when I heard about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Then… I watched the trailer. Seemed like a Van Helsing meets Hellboy with sprinkles of Bruce Willis/Schwarzenegger punchlines....only a dumbed down version. Hollywood has a history of absolutely crapping all over good stories for a buck, so I guessed it would be butchered. But there was still this childhood curiosity about what they had done to the story. So when the opportunity struck, I had to grab the passes no matter how bad the trailer left me feeling.
Here’s my immediate reactions after seeing the film: I never thought of witches this way. I mean, the movie wasn't terrifying. But was it really supposed to be? I guess not. Flying on witches' brooms? I guess that makes sense. This IS Van Helsing. But the jokes are bad with f-bombs galore for no reason at all. And the gore is overdone. Sex scene for no reason? Is this a spoof movie?
But wait. Is it?
Anyway, director/co-writer Tommy Wirkola first takes us back to the original fairytale as suggested by the title, but there are more witches. More witches! Why did that never cross my childhood mind? The angle though is that now this brother and sister team can only fend for themselves, because there's more witches but no riches and their parents are gone. Fast forward. Hansel and Gretel (all grown up into Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) vow to wipe out all witches and travel about killing all different kinds…But we don't see it. It's this nifty animated segment.. but that's it? I feel like i should be seeing it. Too many times you see backstories crammed into tiny snippets that don't do the overall story justice.
When we actually get into the movie’s real plot, there are good witches! Just like Wizard of Oz! And it’s the bad ones that are the only ones causing a ruckus. These witches do all the clichéd things: fly on brooms, make potions, have long noses and gross complexions, there's even one who looks like Darth Maul! The good ones? They make a potion here and there, heal people; that sorta thing. Wands too, that surprised me. Have I watched too many Harry Potter's? Do witches have wands?
I thought there were going to be some vampires too, maybe some werewolves, get crazy with a zombie? But no. There was a troll. This troll looked like Jax from “Mortal Kombat,” plus Combo from “Killer Instinct” and The Rock (who was featured just minutes before in a preview of the new GI Joe film, which looks cool. I played with a lot of GI Joes growing up). The troll actually had a larger impact on me then either main character as far as character development.
It becomes a battle of good and evil like you'd have guessed, but I won't ruin it. in the end, the movie’s bad but not unwatchable; I go to be entertained and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters succeeded at least to some degree, though it left me feeling unsatisfied with the plot and with the amount of storytelling behind the characters and their encounters. Sometimes movies give you that feeling where you say to yourself "OOOOooo! I remember that?" or "Wow! I missed that completely." The epiphany you get when good writing occurs and the story comes all together…That never happened. But did I really expect it to? (*1/2) -- Michael Zaspel
People going to see Parker and expecting standard Jason Statham (the Transporter and Crank franchises) fare might find themselves a bit… surprised. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up to you. For me, it was a bit of both.
Parker has a very pedestrian plot – Staham stars as the title character, a thief who lives by a strict code of honor. He follows the rules inside this personal morality, and will risk his life, or take another’s, if those rules are broken. Naturally, this polar perspective doesn’t always resonate with his crooked peers. As a result, Parker is betrayed and left for dead. The majority of the film revolves around what happens next.
For those familiar with most Statham action flicks, it would be a safe bet to assume that the remainder of the film would consist of explosions, martial arts, and gunplay – all to a roaring rock and roll soundtrack. No. Instead, the movie focuses predominantly on the setup - the slow burn. As directed by Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman), the film is more of a character piece -- along the way, Statham meets and teams up with a beautiful Florida realtor (played by a still absolutely stunning Jennifer Lopez). The dynamic between these two characters is a driving element of the narrative, and it while it brings some humorous and lively scenes, their relationship also stifles the pacing and distracts from thematic flow.
The result is a movie that isn’t the high-octane action piece some would hope for. The other side of the coin, however, is that the punctuated scenes of violence are far more meaningful, effective, and gritty. Parker is not a superhero – he gets pretty banged up. Think Bruce Willis in Die Hard – notably badass, but not immune to damage.
I like surprises, but not all surprises are good. In this case, it was a mixed bag, and I get the sense that the mileage for most viewers will run much shorter given the trailer’s promise of a fun, fast-paced revenge thriller. (**) -- Eric Thomas
As a fan of fantasy and horror films, as well as executive producer Guillermo del Toro, I was excited to get passes to check out the screening of Mama last week. Unfortunately, the flu had other plans. I was forced to miss it, but it's a movie I’d gladly pay to see on my own anyway and when I felt better later in the week that’s what I did. It was worth the money, but just barely.
Mama is an art house-y supernatural thriller directed by Andres Muschietti with minimal gore but a good amount of creepiness. It’s a haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day their mother was horrifically murdered. They are miraculously discovered years later in a run-down cabin and reunited with their uncle and his girlfriend (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain), who put them on a path to a new life. They soon find that someone, or something, still wants to come tuck in these feral little children at night.
The film has the solid visual effects and character portrayals on par with what I expected from a film with del Toro's name attached, but I found Mama as a whole relatively predictable and cliched in spots, with some pacing problems that cause it to drag at times, making it difficult to remain fully engaged. Despite often feeling one or two steps ahead of the story, I still found Mama’s premise intriguing and there are a few effective spooky scenes and undeniably creative moments, leading to some fun for all fans of this genre. (**1/2) -- Rhino Hooton