Stories Retold

A review of the movie, Into The Woods.

Spoiler Alert! Read at your own risk.

If you’re looking for a movie that the kids will enjoy, you wouldn’t want to watch this movie. Not because it wasn’t a fun movie to watch but, since they largely based the stories of the characters from the original fairy tales — the dark not-so-suitable-for-children versions — it might bring your children at their wits’ end.

Firstly, I just want to put it out there that I really loved the fact that they did use the original plots for Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Red Riding Hood. Seeing certain scenes from the book — which were omitted or edited in the child-friendly versions of the stories — come to life in a fantasy movie is actually quite amusing. It was visualized with good taste. Cinderella’s stepmother cutting the heel and the toe of her stepsisters to fit the golden shoe; the witch blinding the Prince and cutting Rapunzel’s hair and exiling her to keep them away from each other; and Red and her grandmother being saved from the wolf by cutting it’s belly open. Seriously, this is dark humor at its finest.

The script was really amusing. Every time you hear the characters sing their lines, especially during the rounds, they sound really playful and happy. Quite the contrast with the dark tone of the story. The playful music plus the words with dark undertones were a good combination to keep the story as palatable to the audience as possible. However, I think the music has little variety. It worked well in keeping the multiple stories together but in terms of making the audience feel something, it seemed to be quite confusing. Unless they really just want the audience to be laughing or smirking in the course of the movie then I guess it was done well.

Another thing I have to commend was the extravagant theatrics. Personally, I think this was most evident in the sequence of the two Princes. The way they sang their lines with exaggerated tones and gestures was a sure way of captivating the audience. It was meant to be, if not the most, at least one of the most appealing parts of the movie. Although it might not have a big significance to the plot, it will surely keep the audience’s eyes on the screen.

Now, I’d like to go into a few details. As I watched the movie progress I can’t help myself but to think about figuring out who the heroes and villains are. My conclusion, I think Disney has yet again destroyed that concept of “only good” and “only evil” stereotypical characters. I believe the movie showed that each character has a good and bad side, making them more human and real. Thus, the conflicts have mostly been man versus himself, the struggle to fight your own evils and find your own happy ending.

This leads me now to another metaphor I have observed. I believe that the Woods itself is a major character in this movie. It has been the source of all major conflicts of each character, the major setting of the whole movie, it was also the path — literally and figuratively — towards their end goals, and it was both a villain and a friend. It was because of the Woods that their stories have been tied together. The Woods also posed as the source of their trials. But most importantly, the Woods has taught them all the lessons they needed to learn and helped the characters realize how to win over their personal conflicts. It made them all evolve. Now I wonder how they came up with the title, Into The Woods. 😉

The Witch is another story. Besides the fact that it was magnificently portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep, the character somehow managed to keep the other characters’ act together. I see her as their conscience. Together with the Woods, they were able to help the characters realize their strengths and weaknesses and made them learn to accept them, and also find their path to the real happy ending — real as opposed to the fairy-tale happily-ever-after one.

However, I was a bit dismayed for some characters for the lack of closure in their stories. I guess there were just too many of them to fit in the spotlight.

I’m giving the movie a rating of 8/10. It was truly enjoyable to watch. On that note, I would like to wrap up this post with a quote from The Witch which I really liked and it goes, “Children can only grow from something you love to something you lose…”


Awkward Beginnings, Happy Endings

A review of the movie, What If.

I have recently watched the movie, What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. Honestly, I found it quite hard to write about the film because I felt too much about it that I can’t think as objectively as I should. Therefore, I shall be sharing my comments about the story more than the technicals.

Within the first few minutes of the movie, I was already smiling to myself. Generally, the story was told quite fast. However, it was visualized in such a way that you get a deeper emotional understanding of how the main characters’ love story is progressing. Sure, the main plot and the ending was sort of expected but the tiny details that tie each major moment together were beautifully done which made watching the movie fun.

Besides the fact that the movie felt terribly relatable, I loved how it showed the harsh realities of making relationships work. It felt real and that was what made the story really engaging. How meeting someone in a very awkward situation and having awkward conversations can spark something special between two people is an interesting way of starting a love story. The way the characters moved, thought, conversed and breathed their stories to create the big picture was done fairly well.

The soundtrack for the film plus the animation were simply perfect in improving the storytelling. The main plot of the story was not really novel but the way it was told and laid out was done amazingly well. The music conveys the feeling of each moment clearly and the thoughts that the animation were expressing were also showed well. I also found their animated engagement story at the end credits really informative for those who would keep wondering how they ended up engaged after coming back to Toronto. It was not essential to the main story but it is a good add-on for certain audience — like me — who might start asking about that little gap before their happy ending.

Overall, I’m giving the story a 9/10 rating. It was amazingly done and it will surely make you feel something. The main story might seem to be considerably fair like all the other happy love stories, but the storytelling was wonderfully executed that you’ll end up smiling even after watching the movie.

Neither Hero Nor Villain

A review of the movie Maleficent.

When people ask me how I found the movie Maleficent I always respond with a smile and a nod saying “I liked the way the old story was retold.” I wouldn’t say it is a great film because it’s fresh and filled with CG. I believe its appeal was less in the cinematography but more on the literary aspect.

Disney released Sleeping Beauty in 1959 telling the little girls then how one can find true love amidst all the evil lurking in every corner of the world. A charming prince will save the distressed princess and they will end up together and live happily ever after. However, just like in Frozen, I like how Disney is destroying that concept of true love by showing the women of today — who might be the little girls of yesteryears — that princes are not what they need in life to be saved. True love does not fall from a tree or found coincidentally in a forest. It blossoms between two people who care deeply for each other. Love is not always about the romantic type because sometimes familial love is stronger than any other love that exist.

The line that struck me the most was when Maleficent said, “There is evil in this world, I cannot protect you from it.” Somehow, I believe that this part humanizes the character. This is what made the retelling of the story more relateable. When a person accepts the fact that good and evil exists within each individual — within oneself — that person begins to understand how to live. Maleficent achieved this enlightenment which manifested in her acts of remorse and sacrifice. The movie somehow teaches us that when we find the evil in us consuming our mind and heart we begin to see the world as dark and unforgiving. But when we start to love again we begin to see the birghter side of life.

I really liked how they told the story in a different perspective. Overall, I’d give this movie a rating of 9/10. I’d recommend it to people who want to experience the story of Sleeping Beaty differently. But I guess, after Frozen, the idea of True Love was not as fresh as it was supposed to be.

Her Movie Poster

Technology, Love and Social Norms

(A sort-of review of the movie Her)

A disclaimer of some sort: Please do not let my little knowledge of film bother you in anyway when I start to blabber about technicalities about the movie Her. I am not a renowned film critic so please do not contemplate too much on my points and think that I am such a know-it-all who likes to persuade everyone else with my opinion as absolute truth. So yeah, if you agree then great, if you disagree, I am always open for other people’s opinions because I know mine is not the universal truth.

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It boggles my mind how society manipulates our minds and tells us that things like this or things as such are considered normal — or abnormal to some extent. Even the emotional aspect of our lives are dictated by the norms of society: a man can only love a woman; you achieve happiness when you get married; a celebrity’s plight should cause the whole world sadness; and the list goes on. I wonder if there is a possibility in the near (or far) future when social abnormalities are the new norms that everybody accepts.

After watching the movie Her, I contemplated on some parts of the movie which, based on my mind formed by the current social norms, seem awkward. When Theodore told his friend that he was dating his operating system (OS), Samantha, his friend’s initial reaction intrigued me. She might have thought it was weird the first time but she asked deeper stuff as if he just revealed that he was simply dating a celebrity or something. They talked about Samantha as if they were just in a long-distance relationship. Of course I personally felt awkward. Although, considering that the movie was set during the not-so-near future, I guess it would have made some sense on the social norms of their time.

Honestly I really liked the story, how it deals with the concept of love and reality, how it tackles the idea of breaking the norms and things that bind us to being one-dimensional beings instead of becoming real multi-dimensional humans. For me, the film would have been good literature.

However, I can’t generally say that I loved the whole of it. I felt like it lacked some more push on the feelings section. There were parts of the movie which could have nudged the audience’s feelings to reaching its peak, but when you feel like your tears would break free any time soon, the moment just stops and you’d feel, for lack of a better term, disappointed. There were also some shots which, for me, seemed out of place. On their own, they were really good shots, but we do not just put pretty things together and think it will appear pretty as a whole right?

Overall, I’d give the movie a score of 7/10. The story and concept would surely capture your interest and it will somehow pinch a part of your heart. Some parts of the technical side may have lacked little things but I would still recommend it as a movie to watch. Also, who wouldn’t want to hear Scarlett Johansson’s sexy voice, right? 😉