Watch This: Trailer for The Huntsman Winters War

The Huntsman Winters War has Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain in a feminist fairy tale about the huntsman. Oh, yeah, Chris Hemsworth is in it – he’s the huntsman. In case you weren’t counting, that makes The Huntsman Winters War an action adventure tale with 3 women and 1 man in leading roles.

In a more perfect world, at least one of those faces would be a woman of color, but I’m happy to celebrate this bit of progress.

The wordy plot synopsis of this dark fantasy is,

The fantastical world of Snow White and the Huntsman expands to reveal how the fates of The Huntsman Eric and Queen Ravenna are deeply and dangerously intertwined. Chris Hemsworth and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in The Huntsman Winter’s War, an epic action-adventure in which they are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Producer Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) once again leads the team in a breathtaking new tale nested in the legendary saga.

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen—including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)—only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.

When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power. But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.

The film is a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman from 2012, which was an equally feminist turn on a fairy tale starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Hemsworth as The Huntsman. In the sequel, as in the first huntsman tale, the director, writer and most of the behind the scenes names are male. But in front of the camera it’s nothing but awesome.

The film is set to open in April of 2016.

Images © 2015 – Universal Pictures

Review: Dark Places

Dark Places is a haunting tale about recovering from childhood trauma and the lingering seduction of evil. I give it high marks. The acting was brilliant from all the cast, particularly Charlize Theron and Christina Hendricks. The plotting and story details were original and fascinating.

Spoilers ahead.

The film was based on a book by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the novel Gone Girl, which was equally original in plotting. Gilles Paquet-Brenner wrote the screenplay and directed Dark Places. Continue reading “Review: Dark Places”

Is the Badass Female Only the Female with a Gun?

I love the badass characters. I enjoy the badass female leads in Quantico and Blindspot, to name a couple of examples from this fall’s TV season.

But I wish the badass qualities I love didn’t have to involve guns and violence. Is the standard audition practice these days to ask a woman to draw a weapon from a holster on her belt as quickly as she can?

I know we live in a violent world. I know we need FBI agents and other sentinels like them to protect us all.

But is gun-wielding female the only badass female character?

I want someone to write more badass characters like Erin Brockovich or Texas Senator Wendy Davis. (Oh, hey, someone is doing that! Yes!) I want more lifesavers like Dr. Leanne Rorish on Code Black or adventurers like Phryne Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or tractor-driving farmers like Gillian from Last Tango in Halifax or system-fighting women like Laurel Hester from Freeheld.

We define badass as something like Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road when we should be thinking that badass is Lily Tomlin in Grandma. I think we glorify the violent. We create drama around guns, killing, revenge, retribution. Then we uplift those characters to represent the best in the culture.

In reality, violence is the worst part of our culture. There is plenty of drama to be had in ordinary existence. Just living provides ample struggle. We can redefine badass to be something that represents the good in us, can we not? We are using pop culture to redefine the attitude toward LGBT individuals, toward all kinds of inclusion. Why not redefine the attitude toward badass?

I plan to start mentioning it on social media and here on the blog when I find a character that I can define as badass who is also uplifting and nonviolent in her greatness.

I hope you’ll join me in mentioning such characters when you find examples.

Watch This: Trailer for Dark Places

Dark Places looks intense and good. Based on a book by Gillian Flynn, the film stars Charlize Theron as Libby, the little sister of Ben, a prisoner played by Corey Stoll. Libby’s family was murdered when she was a child. Ben was convicted of the crime.

A group of ex-cops called The Kill Club are intent on reviving the crime and solving it, because they believe Ben is innocent.

Chloe Grace Moretz and Christina Hendricks co-star in the film, which was produced by Theron. It opens on August 7, and is already available from some on demand sources.