The Feminist Mad Max

I remember when I first learned there was going to be a new Mad Max movie. I was ecstatic. It was a teaser on a DVD and it was quite some time ago (I want to say a year, maybe even a year and a half?). It was a teaser in the true sense of the word: short, disconnected images flashing across the screen with little speech. It was hard to tell the plot then but with a movie like this the plot isn’t that important. Basically all I knew was that it had Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy as Max.

And now I’ve seen it. And yes, it IS as good as everyone’s saying. The action starts almost immediately and by action I mean the car chase. Because essentially the Mad Max movies are drawn out car chases- a simultaneous warning against and glorification of car culture taken to the extremes. By now, most everyone has probably seen this movie if they are going to so I don’t see a need to go through what it’s about. But if you’ve read anything about Fury Road, you know that this is a “feminist” movie. As far as I can make out, it’s considered a feminist movie because it has a main female character, Imperator Furiosa, who is not there to be a love interest, a damsel in distress, or a well shaped body for men to ogle at. She is a remarkable woman and leader who is better than the men at quite a few things- and the men even acknowledge this. She is, in fact, portrayed like a human being. I think we can all agree that Hollywood has problems with creating female characters and Mad Max: Fury Road is a step in the right direction.

furiosa

That being said, I have a problem with the idea that this is what feminism means now. Because Furiosa is being hailed as a hero because of how traditionally masculine her actions are. She fights, she shoots guns, she blows stuff up, she kills people. The only thing that really differentiates her from the other (male) characters is that she has a more delicate bone structure. And you can make the argument that there is no place for traditional femininity in a Mad Max movie (and I’ll probably agree with you on a lot of points), I’m tired of being told that the women I should admire are the ones that act like men. While part of me loves Imperator Furiosa, with her toughness and fight skills, just as large a part of me wants to see elegant ladies in beautiful dresses having tea parties, which is probably why I loved the recent Cinderella movie so much. So yes, let’s admire Furiosa and Fury Road for creating women that act like human beings but let’s also stop acting like the only admirable women are the ones that act like men.

Here’s a movie review of Fury Road that better expresses what I’m trying to say about Mad Max “Feminism”.

Snow White and the Huntsman

I loved everything about this movie… except for Kristin Stewart.

And that’s a shame. I really wanted to like this movie. I had reservations when hearing the cast list; I’m not a huge fan of Charlize Theron and considering everything I’ve seen so far of Kristin Stewart’s was not very good (except for Panic Room, that was kinda fun), I wasn’t too excited about this movie. And if you’re a fan of Stewart’s, I’m not saying she’s a bad actress. I do think that she is best suited for a certain type of role and this was not it.

So, first the good: Charlize Theron was great as the wicked queen and Colleen Atwood did an amazing job on her costumes. Chris Hemsworth was a fantastic choice as the Huntsman. The dwarves seemed a bit underutilized, especially considering the talent they had involved (Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan), but still a really fun addition. And the look of the movie was gorgeous! Very dark and gloomy at the castle and slightly surreal in the forest.

And now the bad. I suppose Stewart can’t be wholly blamed for my dislike of Snow White (but she didn’t help). I just don’t think the film makers really knew what to do with the character. She’s spent half her life living in a prison. We see her be weirdly seductive to one of her captors when she escapes, but once she ends up with the dwarves, we start hearing about how innocent she is and that she’s supposed to be life itself. Or something. I don’t know, it was weird. Stewart is not the actress you want playing sweet and innocent. No fault of hers, she just doesn’t have the face for it. (Slightly related- thinking Kristin Stewart could ever be considered fairer than Charlize Theron? Um, no.) And then when she leads the attack against the castle, all I could think was “what?”. She’s already told the Huntsman she didn’t think she could kill anyone but she’s all of a sudden ok with leading a battle charge, in full armor, and wielding a sword? Keep in mind that she hasn’t been out of prison that long either. So like I said, I don’t really think the film makers knew what they were doing with her. They were trying to keep the sweet innocence of the traditional Snow White while also turning her into some sort of warrior princess. It could been done well but it wasn’t.

Ultimately, the good and bad bits kinda canceled each other out. I’ll be watching the movie again to see if my opinion changes, although I don’t think it will. I have also heard talk of a sequel- without Kristin Stewart. I would be willing to see that but if she’s not going to be involved because of that mess with the director, hopefully he is going to be replaced as well. Only fair, right?

Snow White/Mirror Mirror

Next year, two movies about Snow White will be coming to theaters: Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman.

The trailor for Snow White and the Huntsman came out recently and despite my initial reluctance about it, it actually looks like it’s going to be pretty good. Charlize Theron plays the evil queen and Kristen Stewart is Snow White. I’m not a huge fan of either of those actresses and I’m getting a bit tired of the strong female character type that has been used to the point of ridicule by now. But I’ll probably love it anyways cuz I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff.

The other movie, which presently has an earlier release date, is Mirror Mirror. This version stars Julia Roberts as the evil queen and Lily Collins (Phil Collins’ daughter!) as Snow White. This one to me has the better look of a fairy tale. But it is also directed by Tarsem Singh, whose movie The Fall is possibly the most visually beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. Judging by the stills that have been released so far, this movie will be just as beautiful. More photos available at the imdb site.

Mirror Mirror comes out in March and Snow White and the Huntsman in the summer!