REVIEW: Charlie’s Angels

I’m all for a movie reboot. I can’t watch Mad Max: Fury Road without sobbing like a baby, and whenever I see A Star Is Born, I get such a sense of blood lust.

Dammit. I always get those two films mixed up.

When I saw Elizabeth Banks was at the helm of a Charlie’s Angels reboot, I had high hopes. (Admittedly, not sky-high; we are talking about a movie where the soundtrack was promoted harder than the movie itself.) I was right to quash my expectations, as the Charlie’s Angels rehash – while it is fun and energetic – feels like it’s replaced a substantial story line with a few so-so set-pieces.

Opening on a shot of Kristen Stewart’s face, as she stares blankly down the lens, the Twilight star says “Women can do anything,” to which she hears the reply from a man, saying “Just because they can, I don’t think they should”. Literally 36 seconds into the film, and I had already let out a groan worthy of a decibel meter.

I’m sick and tired of films trying to be so woke. I appreciate that, in the past, females have been hugely underrepresented in the movie industry; Kathryn Bigelow is the only female to have won the Academy Award for Best Director, since 1929; and out of the 23 released movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only six include a female as a lead character. I get it. It sucks. But in 2019, is there really need to fuel this war between men and women? Every male – bar two – was a slimy, sleazy, evil, corrupt misogynist who deserved to get his balls stapled to a cement mixer. That’s not the case with all men. I’m a man, and I only deserve to get my balls stapled to, like, something stuff and fluffy, like marshmallows.

The men in this film are depicted as weak and whiney; as the Angels beat up one male, he whimpers and screams in such an exaggerated that if Rob Schneider were to watch this film, he’d say “Sheesh. Overacting much?”.

I understand that Elizabeth Banks wanted to empower women; by being the female behind writing and directing a hopeful box office smash, with three powerful women all taking the lead role. It’s just that we all know women can be absolute bad-asses; there’s really no need to force that idea so brutally down our throats. In fact, here’s a list of some of the greatest female movie characters, simply off the top of my head:

Princess Leia, Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, Miranda Priestley, Imperator Furiosa, Rey, The Bride, Elle Woods, Ripley, Elizabeth Swann, Miranda Priestley, and so on. (I know I said Miranda Priestley twice, but c’mon – it’s Meryl Streep. What more do you want from me?)

If truth be told, I actually found some scenes rather regressive – despite all of its attempts to liberate women. As Naomi Scott’s character, Elena, is introduced to the world of Charlie’s Angels, she recoils in awe as she sees… Their wardrobe. What a bright, ingenious way to shake off those stereotypes. If you were to ask Tony, the fat, smelly drunk down the local who always has pork scratching crumbs hanging off of his knitwear for a sexist remark about women, he’d immediately slur a quip about them liking clothes too much, which is exactly what this “innovative” retelling of Charlie’s Angels did.

After admitting it to the cast – Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska – I couldn’t really take it back here; I actually really enjoyed the titular trio efforts as the latest generation of Charlie’s Angels. Especially, surprisingly, Kristen Stewart’s outing as the unpredictable wild-card, Sabina. She is easily the best part of the film; giving a feisty, fresh and, frankly, funny as fuck* approach to her character.

* Try saying that four times over.

While Naomi was good enough, I was left slightly disappointed with Ella Balinska’s action sequences. Ella plays Jane Kano, a former MI-6 agent who went on to become an Angel. She’s the muscle in the film, and while she does throw some punches around, none are breathtaking enough to warrant these set pieces replacing good, meaty storytelling. I can’t help but be disappointed at the final act, which takes place at a party hosted by the villain (who is, naturally, a smarmy, double-crossing male). Ella enters the party alongside Kristen, who both hear the Gigamesh remix of Donna Summers’ ‘Bad Girls’, and… Break out in to a perfectly choreographed dance routine with every other female in the room. Why? No-one knows exactly how these two assassins have learned every chasse and heel pull, but for some reason, it’s happening. It all feels a bit to gratuitous; as if Elizabeth Banks knew fans would make this a talked about moment and share GIFs of the two stars looking glam and flawlessly nailing the moves. What would have been better, in my opinion, would be to have Ella come face-to-face with Hodak, her adversary in the film (who is, naturally, a smarmy, villainous male) and battle with him for the entire five minute duration of the remix, in an elaborate sequence, as she defends herself against several men, all bundling on her, and she defeats them in a single camera shot, making John Wick jealous. Instead, she fights Hodak for a couple of minutes to generic action music, that you can probably download for free from YouTube’s audio library, as he plummets to his death in the first example from the ‘How To Dispose Of Unrecognisable Baddies… For Dummies’ handbook.

Speaking of music, it’s well known that Ariana Grande produced the original soundtrack, with the help of several other artists, including Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Chaka Khan. If you’re an Arianator, then you’re in luck. If not, may I suggest in investing in some ear plugs. And cementing them into your skull, because every other scene is broken up by several chords of one of the many Ariana Grande songs. While they all sound cool; it’s actually ‘How It’s Done’ which isn’t performed by Grande, but by Kash Doll, Kim Petras, Alma and Stefflon Don which takes centre stage. Aside from that song, a lot of them merge into one, because we don’t get enough time to appreciate the songs, before another scene of random gunfire and grunting begins.

Charlie’s Angels is great fodder for when you’re trying to get some ironing done (not that I do that), or cleaning the dishes (not that I do that), or cooking dinner (not that I do that), and you need some mindless noise in the background. I was fun in parts, and energetic, but it valued style over storyline and – unfortunately – it wasn’t really that stylish. Drew is gonna be pissed off.

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