Now that Hollywood has exhausted every possible gritty reimagining of all our comic book heroes, they've turned to the world of childhood fairy tales for "new" material. And we'd almost forgive them for it if it wasn't for the fact that every studio is hitting the exact same beats with every retelling.
#4. They're All "Dark Reimaginings" of the Original Story
Most fairy tales started out as horror stories intended to terrify children into good behavior, so there's something kind of poetic about Disney and company exploring the darker sides of the stories that they once, well, Disneyfied. That being said, what's the fun in making fairy tales too dark for the people they were originally intended for -- kids?
"Alice's Insane Asylum play set comes with everything seen here. Shock treatment kit sold separately."
The upcoming Maleficent, for example, tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the curly horned villainess' point of view. The TV show Once Upon a Time gave Alice in Wonderland her own spinoff, but set the story in an insane asylum where Alice is threatened with a lobotomy after having her adventures.
And it's only getting worse -- we've got the upcoming Beauty and the Beast, simply titled The Beast and written by the dude who did Danny Boyle's last film. After that we're also getting a Peter Pan origin story "in the vein of Batman Begins." Because lord knows kids have been demanding to see Pan go back to his Frank Miller roots.
#3. Every Evil Villainess Is Played by a Famous Hot Actress
We're not exactly complaining, but it appears that the first thing these adaptations do is open up the original tale and replace every mention of "a warty evil witch" with "a beautiful lady." Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie as the mistress of evil, Alice in Wonderland took the plump Queen of Hearts and made her a big-headed Helena Bonham Carter, Oz the Great and Powerful simply took Mila Kunis and painted her like the Hulk, and the upcoming Cinderella is going to star none other than Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother. (By the way, they're doing a new Cinderella.)
She'd win the Sexiest Costume prize at any Halloween party she attended, even if no contests were actually being held.
The only ones that make a lick of sense are Charlize Theron and Julia Roberts playing the queen in those dual Snow White movies. But considering the track record, we're guessing this has less to do with the source material and more to do with giving the grown-ups a little A-list eye candy during the film, because causing a boner is the new evil.
#2. There Will Be Some Combination of Black Birds, Scary Forests, and Tall Castles
Apparently there's some rulebook of fairy tale adaptation consistency that states that it's A-OK to completely veer off the original plot but visually the film must match every generic dark magic story that ever existed.
Specifically, these adaptations have to mix and match big asshole birds flying at us (preferably around a tall castle), a dark forest, and (if there's time) plants magically growing at rapid speeds.
The new Maleficent trailer has all of these things.
So did Jack the Giant Slayer.
Oz replaced crows with flying monkeys, but kept all the other elements.
Snow White and the Huntsman took place in a world where ravens are apparently the dominant species.
Cliche is coming.
Yes, with all the money, talent, and time put into these films, they all have the same streamlined atmospheric creativity as a haunted house decal.
#1. Everyone Is an Action Hero for Some Reason
In what must be executive meddling at its finest, the single most common denominator for all of these new fairy tales is that, no matter the character's background or age, he or she must have the ability to kill a person with a broadsword. Sure, Snow White's fine and all, but how can we really like her unless she's seen jumping through fire with a shield?
Considering how wooden Kristen Stewart is, this is doubly dangerous.
And sure, the story of Jack the Giant Slayer follows a young naive kid learning the valuable lessons of giant safety, but that's no reason for him not to ninja down on a giant's back like a drunken Matrix villain.
"Awesome!" -No one
The same goes for Alice, of course, as the new Once Upon a Time in Wonderland TV show decided that a story about white rabbits and talking disembodied cat heads isn't interesting unless the main character knows how to slit a throat with zero remorse.
We're pretty sure "Off with their heads!" isn't supposed to be her line.
For the sake of fuck, even the Mad Hatter from Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland gets a swashbuckling duel like he's Captain Jack Sparrow.
Johnny Depp insists that all contracts include at least one silly sword fight per role.
Because isn't that what fairy tales are all about? Remember the three most basic fairy tale morals: follow your heart; dreams can come true; and yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.