Tag Archives: lord of the rings

Snow White

5 Jun

So I went and saw Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend.  Testament to what a trailer with good fantasy images will do.  It looked neat, so I went.  Overall?  I liked it.  I think, unfortunately, that the end is by far the weakest part of the whole thing, but it’s worth seeing if you like fantasy stuff.

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One of the neat images from the trailer and film, though this one could have been deleted with nothing lost from the story

There’s an entire section in the middle of the movie that’s as close to a live-action Princess Mononoke movie that we’ve ever gotten.  It’s gorgeous!  And indeed very much like Princess Mononoke, complete with a forest spirit and blinking mushrooms.  Really great stuff.  And the story (save the end) is mostly well told, save for some unnecessary narration by Thor in the beginning.   “And so the scenes you have just seen came to pass.  As you have just been shown.”

Part of it feels (and looks) like Lord Of The Rings, and then after passing through both Miyazaki and Tolkien fantasy it unfortunately devolves into an unimaginative ending that seems to contradict the character of Snow White as established.

I’ll go into more detail, but I’ll also spoil the ending of the movie in doing so, so you’ve been warned.

The second she wakes up/is brought back from the dead via Huntsman’s kiss (his actual name isn’t given, he’s just called “Huntsman.”  I can only assume this is because we all know he’s really Thor) she puts on battle armor and incites the men around her into violence, even engaging in it herself, until she finally commits murder in cold (but “fair” I guess) blood.  She ceases to be Snow White and becomes just another one of the guys.  Then she becomes Queen herself which everyone seems happy about, but she doesn’t say anything at all.

The problem is everything the movie has shown us about her previously: the White Hart/spirit of the forest bowing to her, the ailments of those around her being cured, the positive emotions of the Huntsman being awakened, her sympathy and pity – but not hatred – for the Queen, her assertion that she doesn’t think she’d “be able to” stab someone to death.  All of these things are contradictory to the way she behaves upon being brought back.  It’s a disappointing resolution to the story, and whether that’s how “the original” goes or not, by the time the movie got there I was hoping for more from it.  It almost seems like the third act is from some weaker movie, perhaps  the real third act was lost somewhere, and they just pasted this ending on in order to have a whole movie.

So those are my thoughts on that.  It’s definitely a mixed bag, but so many of the fantasy elements are so great that if you like that stuff at all you’ll probably at least enjoy seeing it.

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Juno’s Top Nine Movies of the Decade

20 Dec

Filmmaking has really turned a corner this decade. Special effects are truly at the point where absolutely anything is possible. The first movie on the list attests to this amazing fact. While being able to produce any imagined image can be freeing, the story is still king. Several new directions were explored in this arena as well, from Memento telling a story backwards, to Primer telling a story in, uh, whatever order Primer is (or isn’t) in.
Movies on this list are not just supreme examples of movie-craft, they are also entertaining and enjoyable narratives. Enjoyable, for this list at least, is a key word here. Many many movies came out this decade which are, technically speaking, brilliant. Many of them are, critically speaking, better than some of the movies on this list. Movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Tsotsi, Babel, Brokeback Mountain, Traffic, or City of God are technically excellent movies, worthy of becoming classics. But they are not on this list because the stories they tell are not enjoyable. They’re told magnificently, yes, but I don’t anticipate revisiting them. I don’t long to sit through them again. All the movies on this list I enjoy watching, and enjoy re-watching (and with one obvious exception I have seen each one at least twice). I should also note here, in the interest of fairness, that I have not seen even half of the movies that were made this decade. Particularly recently, I’ve been very remiss in my movie watching. Many critically acclaimed movies are not on this list because I simply haven’t seen them. Movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Everything is Illuminated, or Monsoon Wedding (to throw out a few random ones) could very well be deserving, but I don’t know.

That out of the way, let’s get on with the list that I know you’ve all been waiting for (as well as a list of some runners-up).

9. Avatar (digital 3d version) – written and directed by James Cameron:
Avatar validates movie theaters. Seeing this movie in digital 3D is an experience like nothing else. Now, to be clear, this movie will not change the world. The story is as derivative as Star Wars with characters no thicker than stereotypical cut-outs. It’s Dances With Wolves. It’s Dune. It’s Pocahontas in space. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Yet you’ve never seen, or experienced, anything remotely like Avatar. I actually wonder how they pulled off some of the visual effects in this film (like Jake’s withered legs), and that’s rare. The action is clear and easy to follow and incredible. This movie, when seen in proper digital 3d, is a glimpse into the future of cinema where screens become not just moving pictures but true windows into vast (and in this case beautiful) new worlds. Also: dragons.

The rest of the list

Beyond Good and Evil

21 Apr

At Quaker Meeting some weeks ago there was some interesting discussion of good and evil. When you’re a pacifist, what is the best way to confront evil? When does inaction become an active stance? Can you slay a monster without becoming a monster yourself?

On that last query, our modern myths seem to tell us that only evil can destroy evil, because destruction is itself an evil act.

They tell us that if you are good and you slay a monster, even with pure intentions, you will lose part of yourself in the process. You will be forever altered, injured, damaged, different…

Harry Potter can’t destroy Voldemort without dying himself. Anakin can’t destroy Darth Vader and Palpatine without destroying himself. Luke can’t help him without losing his hand. Gollum can’t destroy the ring without destroying himself. Frodo can’t help him without losing his finger.

If good and evil/dark and light/yin and yang are simply two sides of the same thing, then one cannot exist without the other. We cannot eliminate the Dark Side, or evil, because without them we would know not The Light, or the good. This is mythological wisdom.

But can we move past mythological wisdom? Can you imagine a world where it wasn’t true? Can you imagine a reality where good, in a vast continuum of degrees and complexities, is all there is? Where there are challenges and disagreements, but never violence, and never evil?

If you can’t imagine it, will it ever come to pass?