Actress Elizabeth Banks is rebooting the fan favourite Charlie’s Angels franchise and the new film starring Kristen Stewart, Ella Ballinska and Naomi Scott looks really promising. The franchise started with the series of the same name starring Jaclyn Smith, Farah Fawcett and Kate Jackson as the original Angels, Kelly, Sabrina and Jill. The series which aired from 1976 to 1981 became extremely popular which led to the two blockbuster films Charlie's Angels and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle in 2000 and 2003. The films starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu became a genre and inspired many films with female action heroes.
As a 90s kid, I grew up idolising the Angels – Natalie, Dylan and Alex played by Diaz, Barrymore and Liu respectively, who, quoting the films were “three very different girls who grew up to be three very different women.” It was such a different thing to see on the silver screens. Three beautiful women, effortlessly taking on 48 bad guys and sometimes doing it with their hands tied behind their backs.
But growing up I realised that what made Charlie’s Angels three girls you always rooted for, was the fact that they were not perfect. They were smart, strong and extremely efficient in their work, but deep down they were people like you and I. Natalie was goofy and couldn’t dance to save her life. But she danced on the stage in front of everyone because it made her so happy.
Dylan would always, fall for the wrong guy, more often than not threatening her life in the process. She was scared about her friends, she let her past get to her, and also insecure that her friends would marry their partners and leave her alone. Dylan was also not given a “happily ever after" like the others, which was endearing. Alex, on the other hand, lied to her father about being a doctor, because his disapproval meant so much to her. Basically, behind the tight costumes and high stilettos and the fighting despite of these things, the fact that they were women with real emotions.
The best thing about the film was when the three different personalities came together as a team, they formed such a strong bond which showed on screen. The Angels were not colleagues, they were friends who had each other’s backs. They knew each other’s quirks, and accepted each other for who they were. This comes out better in the second film when the storyline reveals that Dylan was actually Helen Zaas in a witness protection program. The high point of this said friendship is when the Natalie says “Helen Zaas must be great, but I cannot imagine a life without Dylan Sanders." Or when the beautiful Demi Moore, who plays Madison Lee, an Angel gone rogue, has a gun pointed to Natalie's head and the latter says, “I have something you’ll never have. Friends.” Iconic.
When the reboot was announced, I had mixed feelings. Having new Angels meant missing the old ones, but it also meant carrying forward their legacy. By the looks of the trailer, Kristen Stewart and Ella Ballinska's characters Sabina and Jane will be taking in a new angel in form of Elena, played by Naomi Scott. The technology looks sharp and era appropriate. There is the fan favourite Noah Centineo who will bring in the new generation's viewers. By the looks of it, the film will be as kick-ass as its predecessors.
However, there is a little small thing that bothered me. The original Angels did not use guns. The story goes that Drew Barrymore is a big champion of gun regulation and hence the Angels never used guns. The bad guys always had guns and the Angels always won despite that. This only added to the fact how well-trained, strong and efficient the Angels really were. Now, making the new Angels use guns kind of take away from the original charm. Also, in the light of the frequent shooting tragedies that have happened in the US, the new film is not helping the strong political statement that the older films made.
Having said that, I have a lot of expectations from the film. A woman telling women’s stories is such a welcome phenomenon, and it so rarely happens. This means no overtly sexualised shots of the leading ladies. Agreed that the original Angels used their beauty and the art of seduction to their advantage, sometimes very necessary for the plot, but it is 2019 and we cannot deny how they were treated as objects catering to the male gaze more often than not. With Elizabeth Banks’ screenplay and direction, we hope there is none of that and we hope the characters are better layered with great character arcs.
Charlie’s Angels releases on November 15, 2019.
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