Your Public-Domain Fairytale Weekend at the Movies

03/11/2011 10:30 AM |

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Red Riding Hood: Just as Catherine Hardwicke got on the Twilight franchise train somewhat before people realized it would be a series of movies that gross $200 million and change in a few heartbeats, she’s a bit ahead of the curve on the matter of “updating” fairy tales in the wake of the bank Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland made last year. That is to say, Red Riding Hood will eventually be followed by new versions of Hansel and Gretel (they hunt witches now!), The Wizard of Oz, and two redos of Snow White. It’s like that Simpsons episode title: Tales from the Public Domain. You guys know you’re basically just doing Hook, right? I mean, I have no real problem with that because I saw Hook when I was eleven and it seemed awesome.

Also: regardless of internet nerds hating on Burton, the guy who made Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Sleepy Hollow is a bit more of a marquee attraction than the lady who made the lowest-grossing (though probably still, by default, best!) Twilight movie and also the histrionic kids-running-wild indie Thirteen (as well as the somewhat underrated, similarly teen-centric Lords of Dogtown). I sound down on this movie, but really, any kind of swoony gothic-horror take on Red Riding Hood with Amanda Seyfried’s big fairy-tale-ready eyes sounds like something I want to check out.

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Jane Eyre: Speaking of gothic fairy tales, okay, no, this Bronte extravaganza is not so much one of those, but with a stylish makeover, erstwhile Alice Mia Wasikowska, and only hazy teenage memories of the book, you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s in the same ballpark. Jane Eyre fans should just be pleased that this particular adaptation is coming to movie theaters. Of the eleven versions listed on IMDB, almost half are TV movies or miniseries. Why hasn’t this been adapted into a CW series yet?! Until that happens, I’m open to checking out the 2011 edition; I’ve only seen the BBC version with Timothy Dalton, which I can only assumed my eleventh-grade English teacher showed to punish us [Timothy Dalton! He's a slasher... of prices! Um. -Ed.].

Elektra Luxx: I half-liked Sebastian Gutierrez’s Women in Trouble; this semi-sequel follows many of the same lady characters, led by Carla Gugino’s titular (teehee) porn star, while subbing in a few new men, as well as additional screen time for Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an enthusiastic porn blogger. As it happens, Elektra Luxx is a little more relaxed and less soapy than its Almodovar-influenced predecessor; it still has that mixture of sex comedy and melodrama, but now that the characters have been established in the first movie, there’s more room to simply spend time with them, not unlike those superhero sequels that improve once the origin is in the rearview. Gutierrez’s appreciation of his actresses, particularly in giving the chronically underused Gugino a showcase, remains sweet and infectious, even when his directing and/or writing turn clunky. Elektra, retired from porn after a surprise pregnancy by now-dead rock star, doesn’t do much in the movie beyond try to find her way in the world, and the lack of incident (stuck elevator reprised from the first movie notwithstanding) is refreshing, often amusing; it leaves room for conversations with the Virgin Mary, played by a cameoing Julianne Moore. It’s a little campy, yes, but it’s heartfelt camp.

Battle: Los Angeles: Or Skyline, take two: someone obviously noticed that there hasn’t been an Independence Day-style alien-invasion movie done up in the popular you-are-there shaky-cam style, even though Cloverfield and District 9 both feature aliens, invasions, and shaky cams. The good news: after Skyline, even a mildly competent alien-invasion retread will start to look pretty rad. I can only imagine that Sony and Relativity have plans to turn this into a location-hopping franchise decimating other cities worldwide, and I can only further imagine a thirty-year franchise that eventually must include Battle: Hartford and Battle: Manchester (that can be England or New Hampshire; take your pick, commercial auteurs turned horror directors turned big-budget spectacle harvesters of tomorrow).

Mars Needs Moms: Fun fact: this crappy-looking hollow-eyed swan song of the animation company that did A Christmas Carol and Beowulf is actually based on a children’s book by Bloom County cartoonist Berkeley Breathed. But why would you want to bring Breathed’s distinctive drawings to life when you could just mocap generic-looking humannequins and CGI up some lumpy humanoid aliens?