Tag Archives: Fairy Tale

High Chinese Fantasy is Alive in Big Fish & Begonia

31 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Big Fish & Begonia () is a beautifully animated film which takes its afterlife seriously. The people living in a mystical Chinese Middle Earth type realm live harmoniously with the elements but when an individual upsets the natural order, the world will retaliate and the cosmic order will need rebalancing.

This movie debuted in 2016 and it got limited play at select film festivals. After two years, it has finally gotten notice by Shout! Factory and FUNimation. Hopefully, another work, I Am Nezha (我是哪吒) will see release. While one is traditionally animated (2D), the other is 3D. Big Fish is a dramatic product whereas Nezha has more comedy action. To catch either work on the big screen is tough; the release from last month only had a handful of theatres doing short runs.

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Trying to Turn The Huntsman: Winter’s War from Fairy Tale to Saga

28 Apr

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

When I first heard the Mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in a retelling of the Snow White tale because the story is now in the public domain, the first thought that came to my mind is if (the original movie and) the sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War can be told from a grandiose Viking perspective? I see it trying to go that route, but the narrative is forcing the fairy tale aspects in a bitter direction.

I skipped the first film because I’m not a big fan of Kristen Stewart. This latest version caught my eye because of Jessica Chastain‘s work in Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015). I enjoyed what she brought to the table in those science-fiction films. In fantasy, that world is ridden with tropes where not every “once upon a time” is all that fascinating anymore. In the details I’ve noticed, the Anglo-Saxon imagery permeates and I had to wonder why the mirror, when viewed in closeup, is decorated with runes. Could Loki be involved?

When the new villain is Freya (Emily Blunt), I can not help but wonder if her character might be based on the divinity of the same name from Nordic lore. This goddess of war and death rules the afterlife and she leads the spirits of dead soldiers into battle. She leads the fights for the thrill of the hunt instead of the cold-hearted rule of the people (like Ravenna [played by Charlize Theron] did in the first film). She’s sometimes connected with the heavenly Valkyries of lore. They find the slain to take to Valhalla. Although this movie twists the legend around by spiriting children away (from murdered parents) to become the Huntsmen, the ideology suggests a darker world. These kids have their innocence stripped so they can become ideal soldiers. Instead of a goddess, she’s a mutant with the ability to create ice from the moisture in the air.

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Looking for Meaning behind Disney’s Maleficient, A Movie Review

30 May

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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The only reason to see Disney’s Maleficent is for Angelina Jolie. She has the fire to play the faerie queen in all her glory. There’s a regal quality in her performance, and a spark of remorse for what she did: to curse Sleeping Beauty. But in what transpires, the character she plays demonstrates what faerie-kind can be like when forced to deal with humanity. They are nothing like the types created by William Shakespeare, although a few of them do come close.

Maleficent’s role model may well be Morgan Le Fay from the time of King Arthur. Annoy her, and she will send the Green Giant after you! But in this film, clip her wings, and you will invoke her wrath until the end times come. Maleficent is a vision of beauty, a Queen for all Faerie-kind that lives in her realm, and her freedom and mood is tied into the wings that she wears. They can be as soft as down and as majestic as an eagle’s. Most fae-folk have wings like that of a butterfly or an insect; they symbolize more than just freedom. They reflect the essence of an individual’s soul. When they are fair, an angel’s essence can be as gentle as the wind. When they are black and folded like that of a bat, thoughts about what Dracula is comes to mind.

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Where is the “Epic” Appeal? A Movie Review

4 Jun

By Ed Sum

Epic Film Poster

The main problem with Blue Sky Studio’s Epic is that it tries too hard to be just that. This film forgets where its inspirations should be coming from. It could have borrowed from Peer Gynt—which would have been fine—but it didn’t. While the CGI is very impressive with its photo-realism, that isn’t enough to carry this film. This movie deserves a Oscar nomination for artistic direction. As for any other category, it may need a Razzie for its story development.

Its fairy tale aspirations gets forgotten in favor for an action story in the same vein as Avatar. Instead of an invasion of an evasive human species, the antagonist here is with the forces lurking under the earth. All the nastiness of mosquitoes, mole-men and rodents (including bats) gets personified as agents of pestilence.

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