Beware of the Crimson Peak… (or not really)

Last night several friends and I went to check out the new Guillermo Del Toro film, Crimson Peak. After months of trailers and teasers, I was really looking forward to this movie. It was billed to be a beautiful gothic romance with a good chunk of thrills and chills thrown in for good measure. And also, we were promised some decent eye candy in the form of a partially naked Hiddleston. On all accounts, except that last one, this movie was a huge disappointment.

Though it was filmed beautifully, the costume designers did an absofuckinglutely amazing job on the wardrobe (Can we talk about how stunning Jessica Chastain’s red dress was?), the landscapes and scenery were so well done, and the house was beautifully rendered – all that was lovely, but everything else about the film just fell flat. There was so much build up to so little pay off and I have to say, the performances were a bit lackluster as well – with the exception, again, of Jessica Chastain, who really brought the crazy.

OKAY STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS.

 

REALLY. I’M ABOUT TO REALLY TALK ABOUT THE MOVIE.

 

LIKE FOR REAL.

 

SPOILERS.

Still with me? Okay, cool.

Our heroine, young Edith Cushing spends the 1st half of the film as a very strong, independent woman who is ahead of her time. She is a writer. She has opinions. She has no problem cutting other women who were clearly the Mean Girls of their day down to size with a few well placed quips. However, when Edith is publicly humiliated by Hiddleston’s Tom Sharpe (during which, the Loki loving geek in me was silently praying he would call her a “mewling quim”), all he has to do is pass her an little note the next day and she goes running back to him? NOPE. Edith, you are better than that. You are not THAT GIRL.

Then her Dad dies. She hastily marries the Hiddle and he takes her home to his crumbling family estate.  And I mean, CRUMBLING. As in, falling down around them. As in, there is NO ROOF ON THE HOUSE.  Being a strong woman of some pretty substantial means, I’m pretty sure her next step would be “NOPE. I’m going to go live in a hotel until you put a roof on the house.”

Considering this was supposed to be a gothic romance, the lead actors have NO CHEMISTRY. Apparently, Mia Wasikoska said her sex scene with Hiddleston was incredibly uncomfortable because he is a like a brother to her – and that uncomfortable feeling was in fact the only thing about their interactions that I honestly believed.

The best thing in this film was Doug Jones as the ghosts. (Edith’s Mom’s ghost was indeed beautiful and creepy.)

And okay, I mentioned earlier, I gotta give some credit to Jessica Chastain. She played her bit as Hiddleston’s a bit too close for comfort sister (yes, we’re talking Lannisters close) with a well balanced combination of repressed jealous spinster and bat shit crazy ex-girlfriend so incredibly well. Of course, it was a bit over the top, but for this role to be played the way it should be, it had to be a bit over the top. She brought the crazy in all the right places.

There is so much wrong with this film that I can’t (and won’t) list it all – but I can say that I’ve never been so viscerally disappointed by a film I was so looking forward.

Walking out of this film, myself and my friends all had the same thoughts – so much potential, so much that didn’t work. Whether it was the meandering useless plot, the buildup that took way too long, the attempt at some thoughtful metaphors (the insects, the red clay) that never went anywhere, that almost all of the actors seemed stiff and flat and there was not one atom of smoldering passion anywhere.

My disappointment is doubled when I think about the fact this film was made by the same man who created Pan’s Labyrinth, which remains, to my mind, one of the most nearly perfect films ever made.

But you know, I guess it wasn’t all bad – at least we got to see Tom Hiddleston’s ass, right?

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The Problem with Wonder Woman

Earlier this week, the announcement was made that in Zach Snyder’s upcoming film Batman vs Superman, we get yet another important character introduction – in the form of everyone’s favorite Amazon – Wonder Woman. She is to be portrayed by an Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot. In the time since the announcement was made, the internet has blown up with reactions. Some were positive, some were questioning… but most, that I saw, were very negative. But the question I pose to you is this – WHY?

Once again, as it was with the Ben Affleck/Batman announcement – the general consensus is that the actor picked for the role is totally wrong for it. And most of the comments I saw were based on no more than a quick trip to the actress’s Wikipedia page, IMDB page and an extensive array of images of her as an actress, model and most notably – a Miss Universe contestant. While I agree with the fact that I’m not sure that she fits MY vision of what Wonder Woman should look like, I don’t know anything about this woman. And I would venture a guess that most of the more vocal haters don’t either.

I’ve never seen her act. At least not in any English-speaking roles – I do remember (only because it was on TV yesterday) she played the Israeli girlfriend of Mark Wahlberg’s security operative in Date Night. But most of her screen time was 1) spoken in Hebrew and 2) pretty much focused on the fact that she wasn’t wearing much. That was her role – the hot non-English speaking girl in the room. And she was cute in that role, if not very memorable. But then again, that was meant to be a throw-away role set as a bookend to accentuate Mark Wahlberg’s awesomeness compared to Steve Carrell’s NOT awesomeness so in fairness, I really can’t base an opinion on that.

Having no information on Gal Gadot’s acting history aside from that one small role, I looked her up. Apparently she’s been in a Fast & Furious movie or two. I can’t speak to that, having not seen the films from that franchise that she’s in. Again, I’m pretty sure most people who are hating on the choice haven’t seen her act much either. So let’s not talk about whether or not she’s a good actress. What I really want to get into here is the commentary that she is “too skinny” or not the right look for the role.

Let’s see how she stacks up against the description of the Amazon tribe Wonder Woman comes from:

1. Amazon women are meant to be tall. She’s 5’9″ according to her IMDB page – so throw her in a pair of stack heeled boots and BAM – SHE IS TALL.

2. Amazon women are meant to be strong and athletic – well – this girl is a former member of the Israeli military – arguably one of the most well-trained and most capable military forces on the planet. Having lived in Israel – I have known more than a few Israeli soldiers. You do not want to fuck with them. Trust me. So I’m pretty sure she will be doing most of her own stunts. Or at least she’ll be able to, even if they don’t let her.

3. Amazon women are meant to be beautiful. Check. No one is disagreeing with that. The girl is beautiful.

Now let’s look at the character more specifically.

1. Wonder Woman should have ultra dark hair and blue eyes. Okay. So, no one in Hollywood has ever dyed their hair or worn colored contact lenses to portray a particular character, right? I’m pretty sure if they can turn Christopher Eccleston into an evil white elf with glowing crystal blue eyes and seamless super pointy ears, they can handle a box of L’Oreal blue-black hair dye and some Acuvue tinted lenses.

2. Wonder Woman should be voluptuous. Okay, I’ll give you that – Ms Gadot is not particularly voluptuous. However, we have seen more dramatic body transformations in Hollywood than on the Jenny Craig website, so let’s again, give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s not only men who can bulk up, build muscles and gain or loose weight as needed. So there is no reason to assume that just because she’s thin now, she won’t be bulked up for the role. There is no reason you can’t be curvy AND athletic. And with the wealth of nutritionists and trainers available to her, I’m confident, that she can alter herself physically to fit the more curvy and buff look of Wonder Woman.

3. Wonder Woman’s accent won’t be right. No, not kidding. Not a huge concern I’ll grant you, but I saw one hater post that said “She talks funny.” Um, have you ever heard a woman from the long-lost Amazonian colony speak? Yeah, neither have I – so who’s to say what she should sound like. As long as they don’t give her a misplaced psuedo-British accent, which as we all know, is the go-to “you’re not from American, but we shouldn’t know where you are from exactly” accent, then it really doesn’t matter. Also, dialect coaches. Hollywood has them. Bet hers has already been hired.

Not one of the arguments I saw about this announcement had anything to do with Ms. Gadot’s ability as an actress. They all had to do with what she looked like. So, based on the lists given here, all of your shallow and pointless arguments are now invalid. Could we all agreed to let it be until we actually see how GOOD Ms. Gadot is or isn’t in the role?

My concern with this role, isn’t the look of the actress, but with the way that Zach Snyder seems to treat female characters the way an adolescent boy envisions them. Even his most empowered and strong-willed women tend to give up their power to a man at some point in the narrative. That is something that Wonder Woman would never do and I cringe to think at what may be going through Snyder’s head in planning her portrayal.

And what worries me more, is that I just don’t think that Snyder is a very good director. I mean, look at Man of Steel. He took several talented and proven actors and turned them into walking cardboard. Granted, they’re pretty walking cardboard but still cardboard. Man of Steel would have been a more engaging movie if it’d just been Henry Cavill standing shirtless in front of the broken landscape of Krypton for 2 hours. At least I would have enjoyed it more.

Who knows if Gadot will be a good choice for Wonder Woman or not? There is no way to know if the role is something that she (and Snyder) can handle with the respect it deserves. But let’s also remember, no one thought that Heath Ledger was going to be a good Joker. And a lot of people hated the idea of Christian Bale as Batman too.

Okay, so now that we’ve got that all out of the way – let’s talk about what the uproar is really about.

After months of speculation, discussions and and teasing on the part of any number of entertainment and comic book “insiders” – the problem you’re all having with the new Wonder Woman is simply this:

She’s not Jaimie Alexander.