Wednesday 30 May 2012

Movie Review - Snow White and the Huntsman

When we hear the name 'Snow White', we all remember the renowned animated Disney classic from 1937, with its colourful characters, charming and fantasised narrative and its detailed animation. But in an effort to stir things up a bit, this directorial debut of Rupert Sanders takes the classic story and adds a few twists of its own; combining the fairy tale plot with Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy conventions, this is Snow White as she's never been seen before.

Once upon a time in an enchanted land, the beautiful yet corrupt Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) murders the respected King Magnus (Noah Huntley) and locks away his daughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart) to take control of his vast kingdom. As the years pass, Ravenna soon learns the imprisoned Snow White is the only person capable of breaking her spell of eternal youth, replacing her as 'the fairest of them all'. After nearly being killed and consequently exiled from the kingdom, the King's daughter befriends a local huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) along with a band of dwarves who, together, lead a rebellion to put a stop to the villainous Queen before she expands her evil across the globe.

Unlike the common interpretations of this age old fairy tale, Snow White and the Huntsman focuses on an action packed atmosphere with an exceedingly dark tone. Violence is commonplace and there's no shortage of grim moments, not just to do with the narrative themes but also the mise en scene. This new style breathes a lot of new life into a classic story and provides a more serious experience for moviegoers, but ultimately doesn't do an awful lot to deviate itself from the established conventions of fantasy films; everything from the mythical world to the cinematography feels so ungodly similar to The Lord of the Rings and this prevents what is undoubtedly a well made film from being as original as it could be.

Visually the film is rather impressive, with fluid and detailed computer generated effects and good looking environments that capture the mood of the scenes perfectly. Though the scenery is also highly conventional, it still works well to establish the darker tone of the film and bring these vivid locations to life. It's very well shot too; the cinematographic techniques employed throughout maintain a sense of intensity and wonder (though admittedly the handheld camerawork can be a bit too crazy at times), but there are moments where everything in the background seems exceedingly out of focus. I'm unsure if others experienced similar problems, but I found myself unimpressed with the quality of the footage many times throughout.

The acting is universally impressive; even our leading lady Kristen Stewart puts a lot of effort into her performance as the titular heroine, though unfortunately she's still pretty bland and at times slips back into her Twilight faults (always the same face) and this isn't assisted when she's given some atrocious lines. Chris Hemsworth portrays the Huntsman fantastically; the character is easily one of the best in the film with an interesting, funny yet badass persona. Charlize Theron perfectly captures the deranged mind of Queen Ravenna with her highly expressive performance, despite the underused nature of her character. What makes her so impressive above all is how she creates the villain as desperate, insecure and very emotional; she's definitely sadistic and far from good, but she's not a mindless tyrannical killing machine either. The dwarves in the film, portrayed by *insert loads of famous actors here* are funny and charming, but their late entry into the film makes them a bit less interesting.

The one major fault I'd love to point out is the ending, which features a completely rushed, generic and anti climactic final battle and a more than rushed return to the new equilibrium at the end of the story. I won't spoil, but I could not finish this review without expressing my disappointment with how the film concluded. Aside from this and its other flaws, Snow White and the Huntsman is an enjoyable fantasy flick; don't be put off by the title if you're not into fairy tales, because this is much more of an action packed fantasy blockbuster. If you're a fan of such films, it's worth a watch, but just don't try and compare it to the genre's greater entries.

Monday 28 May 2012

Another clip + news for The Attic!

With June 28 only a month away, I feel it's time to start building a bit more hype for The Attic. The film is very close to completion and filming is scheduled to wrap up on June 2, which is this Saturday. The idea came to me in September 2010, writing began in November 2010, we shot the opening scene in October 2011 and began regular filming on February 5, 2012, so it's taken a hell of a long time to put this together and it's going to be sad once everything is finished. However, I am certain the end result will be something many people will enjoy.

Of course in terms of image quality it's not on par with bigger films, as this is my debut film (the Five films were mini experiments, this is my first piece of genuine filmmaking) and it has been shot with the same SD camcorder used to film The Map of Five and The Reign of Five. It's not the best camera in the world, and I intend to purchase a much nicer HD one for future film projects.

I've been working on a new trailer which is due to be uploaded nearer the film's release. I am also going to create a poster for the film which should look pretty nice (it's not going to be anything over the top or well photoshopped, but the idea I have is pretty freaky) and, for now, I have uploaded this small clip which is featured in a scene near the halfway mark of the film. Here we see Joseph grab a knife and enter his attic as if to confront something, but why? What has he seen? Well I'm not going to tell you, you will find out in good time.

I've got two film projects planned for the future (not anytime soon, as these will need better equipment, bigger casts and a bigger crew) and a small short film project which should come beforehand. I'm not announcing any names just yet, as they are just ideas being developed, but you will learn more as time goes on.

Enjoy the clip! The full film is coming June 28, so don't miss it!

Sunday 13 May 2012

Official Trailer for The Attic!

As promised, here is the first full trailer for The Attic! The teaser trailer uploaded way back in March was subject to some positive feedback, which pleased me, but it revealed no narrative details and was mainly just a sneak peak of some footage with a scary vibe.

Now, this new trailer gives you a further albeit small insight into the story, and shows off some brand new footage! Do enjoy!

Look forward to the full film on June 28!

Monday 7 May 2012

The Attic - New Clip!

After so long, I am glad to bring you more news on the development of 'The Attic', due to be uploaded on June 28! Filming underwent a temporary halt in March due to certain issues but now is back on track! Today, this scene was filmed, and as it doesn't divulge any potential scares or narrative spoilers, I decided to let you all have a look at it!

It's short, but I am pretty impressed with how well it came out after editing.

Please enjoy! Look forward to the full film in just over a month!

Saturday 5 May 2012

Movie Review - Beauty and the Beast 3D

After the success of The Lion King's rerelease last year, Disney has decided to bring a multitude of their finest animated features back to the big screen in glossy 3D - and what better way to start off this wave of rereleases than with one of their finest films ever: Beauty and the Beast.

Once upon a time in a faraway land, a young prince's selfish, cold heart lands him under a curse that mutates him into a hideous beast with true love as the only remedy. Though years have passed and he himself fallen victim to despair, hope arises when a young woman named Belle (Paige O'Hara) surrenders to his capture in return for the release of her imprisoned father. As the two spend more and more time together at the Beast's (Robby Benson) glorious castle, they begin to realize that love can be found in even the unlikeliest of places, and beauty itself is found within; and only with this knowledge, can the Beast finally break his curse.

Adults and children alike can enjoy the majesty of this animated masterpiece, with its fantastic musical numbers (including the titular song itself), excellent animation and an emotionally resonant narrative. Far better than most animated films today, the film maintains its quality even after so many years, and that's not just down to the thorough digital restoration. Those impressed with the film back in 1991 will feel as attached to it today, with or without the added 3D. The depth inducing effect is surprisingly satisfactory for a 2D animated film, and during some scenes offers some dazzling visuals. Certain weather effects, such as rain and snow, are particularly impressive in 3D.

A wonderful musical score by the legendary Alan Menken provides a jubilant lyrical atmosphere for the story, and the renowned musical numbers intertwined within are just as great. Much as Disney aimed it to be, the film plays out like a Broadway musical on screen, and this is something that gives the fairy tale a unique charm. The characters throughout are incredibly likeable, especially the eponymous couple (who share a well developed chemistry), and the voice acting is universally impressive. Visually, it's one of Disney's finest, with excellent character fluidity, detailed backdrops and admirable special effects.

It's no surprise Beauty and the Beast is the first animated film to ever have been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. There is virtually nothing to fault, with its beautiful musical atmosphere and strong yet simple storyline able to capture the hearts of many. For any Disney fan, as with The Lion King, this 3D rerelease is one that simply cannot be missed.

You'll also get to watch a short called Tangled Ever After before the film itself begins, which I have to tell you is absolutely brilliant.