Did you miss Beastly and Red Riding Hood at your local multiplex this winter? Chances are you did, cheap DVDs for sale though you can catch up on DVD now. The former moved the traditional tale of Beauty and the Beast to the realm of privileged prep-school kids in Manhattan; the latter tried to put a supernatural, teen-romance, Twilight-esque twist on the familiar story of the girl and the wolf. Neither was any good, and both did poorly at the box office; Hood didn’t even earn back its budget in North America. But be on the lookout for many more flicks just like them. Castle Seasons 1-4 DVD Box Set The astonishing success of 2010’s Alice in Wonderland—the Tim Burton-directed, Johnny Depp-starring 3-D spectacle earned more than $1 billion worldwide—has apparently inspired Hollywood to revisit the deep well of oft-told tales. The fact that public-domain stories, with their built-in name recognition, come without licensing fees is merely a bonus for the studios. Look for another attempt to grab the Twilight audience with Snow White & the Huntsman, coming in 2012, starring vampire-lover Kristen Stewart and Thor’s Chris Hemsworth. The next decade may shape up to be a repeat of the 1980s, Castle Seasons 1-4 DVD Box Set when new strides in FX techniques and technology—as well as, perhaps, a longing for simple tales of good and evil during the climax of the Cold War—created the perfect environment for a blossoming of fairy-tale movies. Most weren’t based on existing stories—Neil Jordan’s grim, arty take on Red Riding Hood, The Company of Wolves (1984), was an exception—though they were carefully crafted to feel as if they might be, which helped plug into the archetypes that appeal to mainstream audiences. The Dark Crystal (1982) was a sinister, gorgeous fantasy from Muppet maestro Jim Henson. Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985) starred Tom Cruise as an unlikely fantasy hero out to save a fair maiden and a gentle land from an evil lord. Labyrinth (1986), also from Jim Henson, saw a teenage Jennifer Connelly square off against David Bowie’s wicked Goblin King. These films may be minor works that continue to skate by on their nostalgia value for Gen X-ers, but 1987’s The Princess Bride is arguably an all-time favorite unlikely to be forgotten soon, a hugely entertaining deconstruction of fairy-tale tropes and cinematic clichés that captures both what audiences love in these kinds of stories while also refusing to take them too seriously, avoiding the overt earnestness that weighs down the other 1980s movie fantasies.
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