Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Live-Action Fairy Tale Adaptations


Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess named Wanderer. She hosted a weekly meme. Bloggers joined from every corner of the blogosphere. She lived happily ever after.

The End.

Okay, so my fairy tale tale is kind of thin. You know what's not? The Thursday Movie Picks meme. I know, bad joke. Whatever. Just head over to her site to get the details on what it takes to join in on the fun. The basic idea is that you will suggest three movies based on a theme selected by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves.

As you might have guessed from my lame attempt at one, this week's theme is live-action fairy tale adaptations. Since most fairy tales are a bit too on the bright and cheerful side for me, this gives me a chance to go against the grain and find some that don't play so nice. Good, because I think my picks the last few weeks have been too safe. Not that I'm going to go completely off the rails this week, but my wheels at least lose contact with the tracks just a bit. Let's get to it.


A. I.:  Artificial Intelligence 
(2000)
Right away, I'm gonna start with the cheating. That's because this one isn't officially an adaptation of a fairy tale, but it happily flaunts its similarities with a particular one. It very much purports itself as a modern version of Pinocchio. Instead of being a puppet made of wood, our hero is a robot made of all the synthetics it takes to to make him look human. He embarks on the same type of journey as Pinocchio. He is trying to learn how to be what he desperately hopes to become: a real boy.


Hard Candy
(2005)
If you thought my first pick was cheating, you'll really hate this one. It never set out to be a fairy tale adaptation. In fact, it came by its association by accident. Legend has it that star Ellen Page just happened to pick out a red hoodie for her character to wear. Suddenly, the parallels between this and a certain story were unavoidable. In some countries it was even used in the advertising for the movie. The story concerns a young girl who takes it upon herself to spring a trap on and try to take down an internet predator/pedophile. Ladies and gentlemen of the 21st century, this your Little Red Riding Hood confronting The Big Bad Wolf.


Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 
(2013)
Wouldn't ya know it? The closest thing I have to an actual fairy tale adaptation and it's a movie you don't even like. I maintain it's not really an adaptation because of that whole thing about our heroes actually being cooked and eaten at the end of the original story. I know, you prefer the version where they use a loaf of bread to find their way home. Okay, fine. This movie follows the titular pair as adults who have dedicated their lives to hunting witches. As a result of that fateful stay in the gingerbread house, Hansel is now apparently a diabetic. Best I can tell, Gretel is just looking for love. There's some cockamamie plot about head witch Famke Janssen trying to take over everything and some more BS about the Blood Moon bringing on something even more bad-ass than her. Just so our heroes have a fighting chance they happen to be immune to witchcraft. That means we get lots of hand-to-discolored skeletal hand combat, or as I like to call it, witch-fu. Oh, you didn't know witches were trained in martial arts? Shame on you. Our heroes also have some nice weaponry leading to lots of blood and guts. It's all a rather ridiculous mess. Why recommend it? Because it's so bad its awesome!




34 comments:

  1. .A.I. was an alright film as it is really a version of Pinocchio re-imagined by Stanley Kubrick and an appearance from the industrial-rock band Ministry (before they became a joke). Hard Candy is awesome as it introduced me to Ellen Page.

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    1. I know. Wonder what it would've been like had Kubrick gotten to do it himself. I love Ellen Page and it started with thia role.

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  2. I agree with you! Hard Candy is an interpretation of Red Riding Hood, I always believe that. Only Ellen Page is more badass than things!!! Great picks.

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    1. Thank you for agreeing. And Ellen Page is absolutely a badass.

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  3. Oh, A.I. is such a clever choice!! Drats, I should have thought of that...
    I didn't mind Hansel & Gretel, it was alright, but nothing more! Great picks :)
    - Allie

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    1. Thanks. You're giving H&G more credit than most so I'm glad for that.

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  4. I love A.I, an underrated Spielberg classic for me. Doesn't get the love the others do. I think I cheated as well...oops.

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    1. I'm totally with you. My only quarrel with it is that it should've ended 20 minutes sooner. Up until that, it's amazing.

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    2. I'd agree with you there.

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  5. LOL at Hard Candy. I love that movie, so I won't argue. The unintentional parallels to Little Red Riding Hood do kind of work. AI is a movie that I need to see again. I saw it in theaters when it first came out and I've completely forgotten it. I never did catch Hansel and Gretel though.

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    1. Happy to see fans for Hard Candy. It's such a great film. I encourage you to take another look at AI. Whether or not you should see H&G depends on your tolerance level for goofiness.

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  6. A.I., in my eyes, is brilliant. I hate that people are hard on it, because it really is an astonishing film. Also, it's a real clever choice on your part, so bravo!

    I also love Hard Candy. It is Patrick Wilson's best performance by a long shot, and Page is marvelous in it as well.

    I won't see that last film, ever :-P

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    1. I'm with you on A.I. I think the ending is to blame for people's perception of it. It just doesn't work as well as the rest of the film.

      Yeah, Patrick Wilson is usually rather bland to me, but he pulled this role off quite nicely.

      Won't blame you for skipping that last one.

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  7. I like A.I. as well. Watch quite a long while ago so I really can't remember the end.
    I didn't know the red riding hood association in Hard Candy was unintentional. All this while I thought they were intentionally going for a role reversal take on the story...but yeah made sense it wasn't intentional since there wasn't a grandmother like character at all.

    Wandering through the Shelves

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    1. Nope, no Grandma this time around. Still, I think it's a brilliant film.

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  8. I actually really liked AI until the end where they pushed the Pinocchio connection a bit too far for my tastes.

    Hard Candy is so, so good. Ellen Page is just brilliant in it. I considered picking it, but the fact that they didn't actually intend it as an adaptation disqualified it.

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    1. Yeah, that end is to blame for people hating on AI. I love Hard Candy. Still Page's best performance in my opinion.

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  9. We rewatched AI and found it so much worse and weirder that I remembered. I definitely agree that the last bit was just too much.

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    1. That's too bad. I really enjoy AI. But yeah, the ending. Sigh.

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  10. I love A.I. It's a very under appreciated Spielberg film, everyone seems to reference E.T. when talking about him while he was responsible for so much more. I would agree that it counts as an adaptation of Pinocchio.

    Hard Candy.. I never have thought of it as a fairy tale adaptation, until I read your post, guess I just never thought about it that way. Ellen Page's role in this turned me onto her other works.

    Lastly, Hansel & Gretal Witch Hunters... not the greatest, but a decent movie, if you noticed I included it on my list as well.

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    1. Spielberg's got tons of classics. I hate that this one often gets left out of that conversation, though. Page is amazing. Love her in just about everything I've seen her in. No, H&G is definitely not the greatest movie.

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  11. AI is one of the most heartbreaking movies ever made. God, that ending :/

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    1. It is a toughie. Such an underrated film.

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  12. AI is a great choice -- the fairy tale theme is ubiquitous in that movie. But, seriously ... Hard Candy?! :-D

    In all seriousness ... I liked AI too, but it's such a devastating movie. It one of those films that's actually hard for me to watch. Hard Candy isn't really a favorite, but I did admire the performances. I'd never thought of the red hood before, but -- accidental or not -- it does make an interesting twist. The burning question is, which one is the wolf? :-)

    Great post! I hope you and your wife are O.K. I've been thinking about you.

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    1. Thanks. I love throwing curve balls during these and Hard Candy is that curve ball. Your burning question is interesting, though.

      Thanks also for asking about my wife. She was released from the hospital a few hours ago and is doing much better. We've both been home since then just recuperating from the whole experience.

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    2. I'm glad she's on the mend. :-)

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  13. I haven't seen Hard Candy nor Hansel & Gretel and I have mixed feelings about A.I. What I hate about it is the tacked on Spielbergian ending. Up until its first, and true, ending I didn't love the film finding it too remote but I appreciated its harshness and respect Kubrick's clear vision. Then suddenly it didn't end and rambled into meaninglessness and I left the theatre feeling very sour about the movie. I like Spielberg very much but he is poles apart from Kubrick in tone and while it may have been a tribute on his part he was the wrong director to finish the film.

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    1. Of the two you haven't seen, I'd more recommend Hard Candy. It's a much better film. H&G takes a certain mindset to appreciate as it's not really good in any normal sense of the word. You're absolutely right about the ending to AI. It didn't end when it was supposed to and just kept going aimlessly. Before that point, I think it's great. Again, though, one has to wonder what Kubrick himself would've done.

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  14. I haven't seen AI for some time, but I remember having mixed thoughts about it. I wasn't a fan of how it ended. I haven't seen Hard Candy but now I think I will, it sounds interesting. Great picks!

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    1. That's the main consensus among people who aren't big fans of AI. I totally get it. Hard Candy is really interesting. Really want to see what you think of it. Thanks.

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  15. A.I. is a great take on Pinocchio (sp?). Haven't seen it in years. I avoided Hansel and Gretel. I'm not big on Jeremy Renner for some reason. Hard Candy is a cool pick. Haven't seen it, but I never heard anything about it being a LRRH cover.

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    1. H&G is best enjoyed ironically, so stay away if you want something legitimately good. I highly recommend Hard Candy. However, it's relationship to LRRH is entirely coincidental.

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