It seems that Hollywood has now bought into a new trend of movies which are apparently gritty and dark reinterpretations of fairy tales. The blame surely falls on the successes of the television shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm and has been cemented by last year’s summer blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman. I suppose you can also trace this back to Red Riding Hood from a few years ago, although I don’t remember that film being too successful, plus it was clearly trying to grab the Twilight crowd more than anything. I would not include Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm since that was all the way back in 2005 and didn’t pertain to a specific fairy tale.
Already this year we have had a success in the ridiculous Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which did well I suspect due to lack of competition. That one looked like it might be amusing, but I was inclined to agree with Jonny Prophet’s assessment that “It looks like solid cable watching.” I somehow I doubt that the fiscal shortcomings of the recent Jack the Giant Slayer will put a damper on this dark fairy tale trend. After all, the source material is all public domain! It’s like getting the benefits of an adaptation or remake (i.e. name recognition and familiarity) without having to pay anyone royalties!
Personally, I really don’t have much enthusiasm for this “dark fairy tale” trend. Of the aforementioned shows/movies I have seen exactly one episode of Once Upon a Time, the pilot, and nothing more (except Brother Grimm, which like I said I don’t count). I did not see how Once Upon a Time could maintain multiple 22 episode seasons of hour long episodes. The premise worked nicely as a mini-series but I just didn’t see making it last year after year without getting tiresome. Grimm just looked like a procedural done in a fairy tale world, so I wasn’t interested in that either.
I wasn’t completely opposed to seeing Snow White and the Huntsman, but I had this sinking feeling that the trailer was making the film look far cooler than it really was (I will never be fooled by that again, not after Max Payne… NEVER AGAIN!) In addition, I could never get past the idea that the “fairest one of all” was Kristen Stewart, usurping Charlize Theron from the title. I call bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, Stewart is an attractive young woman, but Charlize Theron is absolutely gorgeous, a 10 in my book. If my magic mirror told me Kristen Stewart was hotter than Charlize Theron, I’d be getting a new magic mirror!
Jonny Prophet and I passed on Jack the Giant Slayer. It didn’t look bad, it just didn’t look good. The reviews of it didn’t entice me to drop $6.00 on a matinee of the flick either. Again, it looks like solid cable watching. After all, Bryan Singer’s name being attached is no guarantee for greatness, lest we forget “creepy-stalker Superman versus a mountain of Kryptonite.” For note, Singer is making me nervous about X-Men First Class 2, especially his comment about ‘fixing the problems with the previous one,’ but that is a discussion for another time.
The real question is where does Hollywood go next this new trend? What other fairy tales can be ‘reimagined’ as being dark and gritty? Should we be expecting a creepier Pinocchio than that Robert Benigni movie? Will the Pied Piper save the children from an army of giant mutant rats? Will the Big Bad Wolf be an unstoppable dark-magic driven killing machine that the three little Pigg brothers (see what I did there?) have to stop?
It just all seems stupid to me. This trend is just a continuation of the unoriginal garbage that Hollywood keeps producing. Yes, I do think comic book movies fall into that category and I am a sucker for them, but at least superhero movies, for the most part, are based on creative ideas that have not been done to death on film. I also don’t mind sequels that are warranted by a decent story to continue the premise. However, all Hollywood is doing by making these dark fairy tale flicks is creating more remakes with an emphasis of CGI over acting and overall charm. I mean, how different is that dark retelling of Snow White from having Tim Burton remake a childhood classic in his weird, gothic style?
Huh, perhaps that’s where the blame lies… with that awful Tim Burton remake of Alice in Wonderland. The original book may not have been a fairy tale per se, but it is a beloved classic and was made as an animated feature length Disney film. As if I didn’t have enough reason to hate that movie. I can only find solace in that the success of Oz, The Great and Powerful will most likely mean that The Wizard of Oz will be safe from a corrupting gothic reimagining at the hands of Tim Burton!