Friday, April 8, 2011

Box Office Review - Hanna

As of right now, there is beginning to be a rise in fairy tale film adaptations. We have already seen Tim Burton's cash cow Alice in Wonderland, as well as the not so well received Red Riding Hood. Looking into the future, there are more than five scheduled fairy tale films to be theatrically released, three of which are based on Snow White. Having not seen these upcoming films, this following statement is a bit presumptuous, but I am willing to bet none of these films will be as good as Hanna. Not that Hanna is directly inspired by any one fairy tale. It is a mash up, and modern version of the Grimm brothers fairytale. Don't misjudge me, I am no fairytale expert by any stretch, but the fact that the Grimm brothers factor into the actual storyline, makes it pretty obvious what the film is going for.

The first scene is of Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) stalking and killing an elk with expert skill. We then see here engage in hand to hand combat with an animal skin wearing man named Erik (Eric Bana) who turns out to be her father. Alone in the forest, Eric has been training the sixteen year old Hanna to become a killing machine capable of extreme acts of violence. They live in a very interesting log cabin where Hanna has been educated in multiple languages as well as just about everything else you can learn from a book. Hanna keeps telling her father that she is ready, but we are not sure what she is ready for until Erik produces a locator beacon. It seems that all Hanna's training has been for a mission against the CIA and an agent named Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). This mission throws Hanna into a world she has never known, and along her journey she meets a cast of strange, and eccentric characters. This includes a flamboyant choreographer/killer named Isaac (Tom Hollander), his skinhead goons, and a new age family with a pop culture obsessed daughter.

Hanna is a weird and wonderful journey of a film. Director Joe Wright takes a lot of chances with the look and the pacing of it, and these risks make Hanna an impressive movie. Wright approaches the fairy tale story as if it is a modern action film, but he never makes it overly frenetic or chaotic. Yes it is a stylish film, but there is heart to go with the style. The action scenes are broken up throughout the film, and act as impressive set pieces that hold up the rest of the story. The majority of the film is about Hanna trying to complete her mission, and at the same time find some meaning for her life. This means that she isn't killing or being super girl all the time. In fact, the movie even works in a some what bizarre date scene that actually works in context with the rest of the movie.

A lot rests on the actors shoulders in the film, and everyone is up for the task. Saoirse Ronan has the hardest job, as her's is the character that changes and evolves. Much like her past performances, she just becomes the character, and makes Hanna one hundred percent believable. As for the rest of the characters, they are playing mainly fairytale Archetypes. Bana's Erik is similar to the Huntsman in Snow White, as his role is to care for and protect Hanna from the wicked witch Marissa Wiegler. Blanchett plays Wiegler as a soulless, expressionless, almost android like woman who manipulates everything and everyone around her.

I was excited for Hanna going into the theatre, and I came out not disappointed. It is a great chase movie that mixes fantasy and reality effortlessly. This bizarro fairy tale complimented by a pumping soundtrack courtesy of The Chemical Brothers makes for great entertainment.

A Gold Banana

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