Friday, 22 March 2013

Film Review: "Jack the Giant Slayer" (2013).

The tagline of the film is "If you think you know the story, you don't know Jack." Which is what you're in for with Jack the Giant Slayer. This fantasy adventure film directed by Bryan Singer and was based on the fairy tales, Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Beanstalk. The film tells the story of Jack, a young farmhand who must rescue a princess and stop the ancient reignited war between humans and a race of giants after inadvertently opening a gateway between the two worlds.

The film's two main inspirations were Joseph Jacob's The History of Jack the Giant Killer, which was an English folklore that was published in 1711. However Jack and the Beanstalk, which was published in print in 1807, is the most popular version of the story. But Jacob's story was regarded as being the most accurate as it lacks the moralizing that appeared in some versions of the tale.

Development of Jack the Giant Slayer began in 2005, when Lemke first pitched the idea to New Line Cinemas. D. J. Caruso was hired to direct the film in January 2009 but in September of that year, Caruso was replaced by Singer, who hired McQuarrie (his frequent writing collaborator) to rewrite the script. Casting took place between February and March 2011, and Principal Photography began in April 2011 in England with locations in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Norfolk. Release of the film was moved back, (by nine months) from June 15th 2012 to March 22nd 2013, in Post Production to allow more time for special effects and marketing.

The film stared Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy and Ewan McGregor. Even though the performances were excellent, they somehow seemed to be unoriginal, typical and ultimately predictable. Hoult's performance, as good as it was, I felt as though I have already seen that kind of character and can be compared to Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga. This also applied to Tomlinson's performance whose character was also predictable as she was the 'damsel-in-distress' and happens to be the hero's love interest and fall in love with him, not even halfway through the film. Tucci - as brilliantly he played this role, I felt that I was seeing the same Stanley Tucci role over and over again. Most of Tucci's roles that I am aware of is that he always plays the villain bent on world domination. McShane's performance was also brilliant, but predictable and typical in this kind of story. Nighy played the antagonist role excellently, but I felt as though his presence and character was not strong enough throughout the film. That he was just a villain for film showmanship. Lastly, McGregor's performance was brilliantly portrayed with a moments of humor, but also predictable and, at the same time, weak.

While Jack the Giant Slayer looks terrific and delivers its share of fantasy thrills. However, it also suffers from uneven pacing and occasionally incomprehensible plotting and cliché characterization.

Simon says Jack the Giant Slayer receives:

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Film Review: "Oz the Great and Powerful" (2013).

One of the taglines of the film is "The land you know. The story you don't." Which is what Oz the Great and Powerful is all about. This fantasy adventure film directed by Sam Raimi. When a tornado transports magician Oscar "Oz" Diggs from Kansas to the Land of Oz, he is identified as the prophesied "Wizard of Oz" by three witches, Glinda, Evanora and Theodora, who attempt to persuade Oscar to restore order in Oz from a power-hungry Wicked Witch. The film is a spiritual prequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The first signs of life began after the successful release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Walt Disney planned to produce an animated film based on the first of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. In 1954, when the film rights to Baum's remaining thirteen Oz books were made available, Walt Disney Productions acquired them for use in Walt Disney's television series Disneyland and the live-action film Rainbow Road to Oz (1957), which was abandoned and never completed. Disney's history with the Oz series continued with Return to Oz (1985), which was presented as an unofficial sequel to, or variant of, the 1939 film. The film was both a critically and commercially failure, but since developed a cult status. The Walt Disney Studios first commissioned Oz the Great and Powerful in 2009 under the tenure of then studio chairman Dick Cook, who was succeeded by Rich Ross and later Alan Horn, a unique trait for a major studio release. Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire were hired to write the screenplay and Joe Roth serving as producer. Roth initially sought out Robert Downey Jr. for the titular role of the Wizard in April 2010. By summer of that year, Sam Raimi was hired to direct the film. In January 2011, Raimi attempted to revive discussions with Downey, but became aware that the actor was uninterested. The film was without a lead until February when James Franco entered final negotiations to star in the film, only five months before filming was scheduled to begin. Franco and Raimi had previously worked together on the Spider-Man trilogy (2002-7). Because Warner Bros. (via Turner Entertainment) owns the rights to iconic elements of the 1939 MGM film, including the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland, Disney was unable to use them nor any character likenesses from that particular film.

The film stars James Franco as Oscar Diggs, Mila Kunis as Theodora, Rachel Weisz as Evanora and Michelle Williams as Glinda. Franco gave a great performance, Franco in particular hams it up and is often playing to the balcony. Mila Kunis gets a thumbs up for her performance as she demonstrated excellence in the art of bewitchery and emotional drama. Weisz gave a riveting performance. Lastly, Williams gave an amazing performance.

Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful sacrifices the Baum's fantastical spirit and much of its heart. But it's an undeniable visual treat.

Simon says Oz the Great and Powerful receives: