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Fantasy

Review: The Huntsman: Winter's War

Apr 22 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220532:42925:0[/embed] The Huntsman: Winter's WarDirector: Cedric Nicolas-TroyanRating: PG-13Release Date: April 22, 2016 As its title suggests, The Huntsman: Winter's War shifts its main focus to its titular huntsman, Eric (Chris Hemsworth). Before the events of the first film, the Evil Queen Raveena (Charlize Theron) had a younger sister named Freya (Emily Blunt). After the death of her daughter, Freya gains ice powers and goes off to form her own kingdom (complete with a ban on love), kidnapping children and training them as huntsman along the way. Eric ends up falling in love with another huntsman, Sara (Jessica Chastain), but Freya puts a stop to that. Then seven years later (and after the events of the first film), Freya vows to get Raveena's magic mirror and take over Snow White's kingdom.  Just as with the first film, Winter's War oozes with style. While some of its visuals borrow heavily from other fantasy worlds (such as the design of the huntsman themselves), costume design is still top notch. Capitalizing on one of the better aspects of the first film, Raveena and Freya's outfits are outlandish and gaudy in the best way. And although it results in less gaudy but fabulous dresses, the set design has also received an upgrade. Scene settings are more varied and feel more inspired, such as the jungle look of the goblin's den (and the gold chained gorilla goblins), but there's a definite lack of budget that knocks the film's overall presentation down a peg. The film's CG isn't always seamless, but the film tries its best to make sure at least the central women look good. At least Winter's War succeeds in that regard. Because their looks are perfected, Theron and Blunt are free to chew the scenery as they see fit.  And boy does Charlize Theron run the show. It's just a shame that the film keeps her separated from Blunt for the majority of it. The scenes where she's allowed to cheesily tear into Blunt's Freya turns Winter's War into a fantasy version of Dynasty as the two actresses try to out soap opera each other. It's the only time Blunt seems bothered enough to try, and her scenes with Theron clearly make Blunt's performance ring hollow the rest of the time. At least Chris Hemsworth get more to do this time around. The first film was before his breakout in The Avengers, and now he's got this affable personality which helps ease some of Winter's War's more troublesome attempts at humor and personality. But while mostly everyone involved is having a good time, no one really seems to care about what they're saying. It's halfhearted throughout.  Winter's War is further crippled by its poor storytelling. When it succeeds it can be funny, or even compelling, but thanks to its need to clutch to the first film rather than reset everything, the film makes no damn sense for the first thirty minutes or so. Thanks to a weird flashback story then a time jump seven years into the future, everything is rushed. We're never given the time to invest in Eric and Sara's relationship because all we get between the two is a few make out sessions (that linger on for a bit too long) before they're separated. It doesn't help that Hemsworth and Chastain are clearly phoning it in. Their scenes together seem to take the longest, and their faux scottish accents are so heavy, they're almost parodic. These scenes make you wonder when Theron's going to show up again. Given that she's really only in the film for about 20 minutes, the wait seems even longer. Give up the ghost already and give us a full Charlize Theron ham sandwich, Universal.  The Huntsman: Winter's War is a piecemeal fantasy that's just other fairy tales duct taped together into a two hour project. There's clearly an underlying effort being drowned by everyone's apathy (there's not even an effort to keep background skeletons from looking like they were bought in one of those pop up Halloween shops), and Winter's War barely cares it exists. It just does.  Going in I was hoping Universal re-examined the Huntsman series and kept what worked and threw out what didn't. But it did the complete opposite. The Huntsman: Winter's War is less of what we want, and more nonsense we don't need. 
Winter's War Review photo
What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
Despite Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Saunders being pulled from the series after allegations of an affair, bumping up visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to debut as director, and the first film gettin...

Warcraft posters photo
Warcraft posters

New character posters for the Warcraft movie are shiny at sunset (or sunrise)


It looks all gamey
Apr 08
// Hubert Vigilla
I'm still pretty ambivalent about Duncan Jones' Warcraft. Jones gets goodwill for Moon, obviously, but the various trailers and promos for the film seem a bit flat and bland. Maybe that's just the nature of some trailers in g...
Warcraft trailer photo
Warcraft trailer

New international Warcraft trailer has wizard lightning, that orc baby, and a possible subtitle


Zap! Fzzzzit! Pew! Pew!
Mar 28
// Hubert Vigilla
The marketing machine for Duncan Jones' Warcraft is starting to kick in as we get a little bit closer to the June 10th release date. A trailer released earlier in the month gave us a little glimpse at a dwarf and an orc getti...

ND/NF Review: Evolution

Mar 21 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220389:42858:0[/embed] EvolutionDirector: Lucile HadzihalilovicRelease Date: TBDRating: TBDCountry: France The world of Evolution is mysterious from the get go, which is due largely to the coastal locale where the film is set. We don't know what year it is, or quite where this place is either. It's all so otherworldly, the sort of setting for tales, allegories, and de Chirico paintings. There are white stucco buildings built near the water, and the sand is black leading to the turbulent shore. It's beautiful in how stark it is. In the distance, there's a medical facility that looks like it was abandoned years ago, but boys and their mothers walk back and forth for periodic examinations. There are only grown women and young boys on this island. There are no men, there are no girls, and the mothers have a sinister uniformity about them. At night, the mothers leave their homes carrying hand lanterns and congregate near the water. The boys are just boys but are in the dark about their caretakers. The boys are raised on a diet of mashed kelp and something like worms, one of those foods that while heated in a saucepan still looks cold when it's served. Evolution centers primarily on Nicolas (Max Brebant) and his mother (Julie-Marie Parmentier), and what Nicolas discovers about this town and where babies come from. We follow him into the night, down long corridors, to water in the dark, and in the process participate in the act of discovery, unwrapping the allegory along with Nicolas, sharing in his repulsion and curiosity. Roughly midway through Evolution, this dive into the unknown slows, maybe too much for what's revealed about the mothers and their boys. Yet even what's revealed is just enough to suggest larger possibilities and delve deeper into the thematic territory of the movie--sex, childbirth, asexuality, violation, flesh, reproduction, biological processes. I sensed in the film's lull that Hadzihalilovic was signalling a move away from an explicit exploration of the plot and the machinery of the world to a series of ruminative brushstrokes, each one a deliberate move to the film's finale, which is more conceptual than visceral. In the immediate aftermath of Evolution, I felt a little let down, expecting more of a resolution to what's introduced early on. Yet the movie has this strange, lingering quality thanks to its pervasive otherworldliness. I mentioned Lovecraft and Cronenbeg earlier, but Hadzihalilovic makes this movie her own, invested with unique hobbyhorses and a fascinating sensibility. It's rare to see a movie that sticks around in your mind after an initial sense of disappointment. The fact I'm still thinking about Evolution, and deeper now than in the hours after the first viewing, have made me reevaluate Hadzihalilovic's languid pace, which unfolds with the same speed as a dream verging on a nightmare but never quite arriving there. Cinematographer Manuel Dacosse does a magnificent job in rendering these images and giving them such a haunting quality that I can't get several of them out of my head. Evolution's grown on me, like a skin graft or like coral, or maybe it's grown in me, like the stuff of recurring bad dreams.
Review: Evolution photo
Lingering, haunting, and yet
There's so much going for Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Evolution, a film expertly lensed from the deliberate first shot: looking up to the sky from underwater. From beneath, the ripples and waves on the ocean surface produce undul...


Warcraft TV spot photo
Warcraft TV spot

Latest Warcraft TV spot teases dwarves, severed orc genitals, serviceable fantasy action


No orc baby, but lotsa wizard lightning
Mar 18
// Hubert Vigilla
The previous Warcraft TV spot didn't inspire much confidence from me, but there's a new TV spot out. I'll give it this much: it's got a dwarf and someone's nards get totally wrecked. The simple pleasures in life, am I right? ...
Dark Tower photo
Maybe Roland will finally make it
I was pretty confident that this round of "we're making a Dark Tower" movie was going to end in the same way all the others did: cancellation. However, they got a director and then there were casting rumors and now we have ac...

David Bowie LOTR photo
David Bowie LOTR

David Bowie auditioned for Lord of the Rings


The Man Who Fell to Middle-Earth
Jan 29
// Hubert Vigilla
Following the death of David Bowie, more and more information has surfaced about his works in progress and his past projects. Up until his passing, the man was writing new songs. He has multiple posthumous albums set for rele...
Labyrinth sequel photo
Labyrinth sequel

Screenwriter Nicole Perlman sets record straight about Labyrinth reboot/sequel


It's a continuation, not a remake
Jan 26
// Hubert Vigilla
Yesterday we mentioned that there is a Labyrinth reboot in the works, which is being written by Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman. Perlman took to Twitter over the weekend to assure fans that the film is not a ...
Warcraft TV spot photo
Warcraft TV spot

New Warcraft TV spot probably doesn't inspire much confidence in the film for non-fans


Generic Fantasy Film: The Movie: The Ad
Jan 25
// Hubert Vigilla
After seeing the first trailer for Duncan Jones' Warcraft, News Editor Nick Valdez felt that the movie looked a little off. Some shots were great, some not-as-great, most shots looked green screened to heck, and the vibe of t...
Labyrinth reboot photo
Labyrinth reboot

The David Bowie movie Labyrinth is getting a reboot


Dance reboot, dance
Jan 25
// Hubert Vigilla
For men and women of a certain age, Labyrinth was their introduction to the late, great David Bowie. The 1986 Jim Henson film starred Jennifer Connelly as a teenager who travels to a fantastic land in order to rescue her kidn...
Jackson on Hobbit woes photo
Jackson on Hobbit woes

Peter Jackson talks problems making The Hobbit, didn't have enough prep time


"Didn't know what the hell I was doing"
Nov 19
// Hubert Vigilla
The Hobbit trilogy made roughly $3 billion worldwide, but it was also a bloated disappointment that felt nowhere near as taut as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The writing wasn't there, the special effects seemed less polishe...
Warcraft TV spot photo
Warcraft TV spot

Watch an international TV spot for Duncan Jones' Warcraft


A step up from the trailer
Nov 15
// Hubert Vigilla
Like Nick, I was underwhelmed by the first trailer for Duncan Jones' Warcraft. A little too heavy on CG and uncanny valley-ness, my overall impression was, "Oh, look, it's Generic Fantasy Film: The Movie." (As Rian Johns...
Warcraft poster, images photo
Warcraft poster, images

New Warcraft poster and images, first trailer coming November 6th


Red in the face and feeling blue
Nov 02
// Hubert Vigilla
While there are some worries about Duncan Jones' Warcraft film, that's not stopping the hype machine. This week marks the release of the first trailer for the movie, which is due out on November 6th. Ahead of the trailer's re...
Terry Gilliam Don Quixote photo
Terry Gilliam Don Quixote

Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote delayed again while John Hurt undergoes cancer treatment


Delayed with good reason for once
Sep 23
// Hubert Vigilla
You may remember our report that Amazon is funding and releasing Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which was great news for fans looking forward to the long-delayed film. It seemed like the film, whose fizzled p...
Last Witch Diesel photo
Last Witch Diesel

Newest Last Witch Hunter trailer wakes me up inside


CAN'T WAKE UP
Sep 18
// Nick Valdez
I wasn't a big fan of Furious 7 as I should've been, but I'll always love Vin Diesel. He's one of the few actors in Hollywood who unabashedly loves what he's doing and it always comes through on screen. Even if he gives the s...
Warcraft a problem movie? photo
Warcraft a problem movie?

Director Duncan Jones tweets about Warcraft being a "problem movie"


It's all in the timing
Sep 17
// Hubert Vigilla
Yesterday we reported that Universal feels Warcraft is a "problem movie." While The Hollywood Reporter didn't elaborate on what "problem movie" might mean, we speculated that it may be related to the long post-production...
Warcraft a problem movie? photo
Warcraft a problem movie?

Speculation: Universal feels Warcraft is a "problem movie"


Not bad but a problem, which may be bad
Sep 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Earlier we reported that Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed indefinitely and may not get made. This is the result of the testy relationship between Legendary Pictures and Universal, which The Hollywood Reporter has covered in a r...
Hunting Witches photo
Hunting Witches

New trailer for The Last Witch Hunter oddly intriguing


If he's last why are there others?
Aug 06
// Matthew Razak
I am 90 percent sure that The Last Witch Hunter is going to be incredibly bad. Despite Vin Diesel's constant promotion of this sucker it really does look like just another budget flick. That being said, I'm oddly intrigu...
Swinton to get Strang photo
Swinton to get Strang

By the blessed three Vishanti, Tilda Swinton stands revealed as Dr. Strange's Ancient One


Not sure how hoary her hosts are, though
Jul 16
// Sean Walsh
It's like they say: "When the student is ready the teacher will appear." With last December's news that Benedict Cumberbatch would officially be donning the Eye of Agamotto as the Sorcerer Supreme in Marvel's 2016 Doctor Stra...
Dark Tower gets director photo
Dark Tower gets director

A Royal Affair director Nikolaj Arcel signs on to direct Stephen King's Dark Tower


Ever closer to a Gunslinger Born
Jul 13
// Sean Walsh
The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed. After what feels like an eternity of heartbreaking ups and downs, The Dark Tower inches ever closer to actually existing. The little franchise that co...
Gilliam/Amazon deal photo
Gilliam/Amazon deal

Amazon will help fund and release Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote


And a Defective Detective series too?
Jun 10
// Hubert Vigilla
Terry Gilliam's quest to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has run into countless stumbling blocks. First chronicled in the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha, Gilliam and others have suggested Don Quixote is back on track ...
Pan Trailer photo
Pan Trailer

Newest Pan trailer looks gorgeous


May 19
// Nick Valdez
I'm not sure what to think about yet another reboot/prequel/whatever the hell this is, but Pan looks amazing. It's directed by Joe Wright, it's got a great cast with Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, and Garrett Hedlund, and I don't...
Last Witch Diesel photo
Last Witch Diesel

First trailer for The Last Witch Hunter starring Vin Diesel


Apr 30
// Nick Valdez
To me, Vin Diesel can do no wrong. Regardless of his odder career choices in the past, I've always dug his genuine love for his work. He's a nerdy dude who loves trying out crazier roles and his latest film seems like the cra...
Boy and Beast photo
Boy and Beast

First trailer for Mamoru Hosoda's next anime film, The Boy and The Beast


Apr 23
// Nick Valdez
Mamaro Hosoda's films are always triumphs of animation. Known for Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and even The Digimon Movie, his films have a distinct and flowing art style that's always very pleasing to the eye. On top of that,...
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Live-action Beauty and the Beast has a release date


Emma Thompson and Kevin Kline join the remake set to release in 2017
Mar 17
// Matt Liparota
If Cinderella is anything to go by, Disney has made a good decision in greenlighting live-action adaptations of its own animated classics. Perhaps Cinderella's box office success over the weekend spurred the company to make a...
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20 Star Wars books will set the stage for The Force Awakens


Your library card is gonna get a workout
Mar 11
// Matt Liparota
Now that Disney has obliterated the beloved-by-some Star Wars Expanded Universe – a massive collection of novels and other media chronicling the decades following Return of the Jedi – to clear the way for The Forc...
Tomorrowland photo
Tomorrowland

Newest Tomorrowland Trailer is only a day away


Tomorrow, tomorrow
Mar 09
// Nick Valdez
Brad Bird's upcoming Tomorrowland is Disney's second attempt at turning one of their park attractions into a big film, but unlike the Pirates of the Caribbean series (which is starting work on the fifth one), Tomorrowland lo...
Disney's BnB photo
Disney's BnB

Disney's live action Beauty and the Beast gets its Gaston and Beast


Mar 06
// Nick Valdez
Live action Beauty and the Beast stories are a dime a dozen. Disney hopes you'll forget about all those other ones and support their latest live action take on one of their animated stories. Bill Condon (Chicago, Twilight: Br...
FFS: Thomas Chaos photo
FFS: Thomas Chaos

Flix for Short: The Life and Death of Tommy Chaos and Stacey Danger


A gorgeous short about love and dinosaurs
Jan 26
// Sean Walsh
This short, shown to me by my awesome new friend Madi, is absolutely sensational. At it's core, it's about two people in love, That core is suronded by all kinds of fun visuals, including dinosaurs, outer space, and submarin...
Star Wars Spin-Offs photo
Star Wars Spin-Offs

Star Wars standalone testing some awesome female leads


Jan 21
// Nick Valdez
I'm not very interested in the main Star Wars series, but what has gotten my attention are the standalone spin-off films releasing in between the trilogy. With cooler directors, and possibly cooler stories, it's only natural ...

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