Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

Fairest of Them All

Rated: PG   Some fantasy action and mild rude humor
Release Date: March 30, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 46 mins

Director: Tarsem Singh
Writers:  Jason Keller, Melissa Wallack, original story by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
Cast: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceni, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark

SYNOPSIS: Princess Snow White must find her strength to confront and defeat her stepmother, the Queen, and return her kingdom to its former glory.

REVIEW: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, director of Immortals, switches gears from angry, vengeful gods to angry, vengeful stepmother Queens
. Based on the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm story, newcomer writer Melissa Wallack and Machine Gun Preacher scribe Jason Keller look to recapture the reflection of the original story, while providing plenty of campy, tongue-in-cheek goodness.
As we begin this new classic tale of Snow White, the King's wife gives birth to a beautiful fair daughter. When the Queen dies in childbirth, The King raises the young Snow on his own. Realizing that there are some lessons that he alone will not be able to teach his daughter, he remarries. When a dark blight comes close to the kingdom, the King ventures out to do battle. He is not heard from and considered dead. Years later, the new Queen (Julia Roberts, Larry Crowne) lavishes herself in wealth and beauty while keeping her step-daughter Snow (Lily Collins, Priest) restricted to her room and the castle grounds. As the wealth of the kingdom dries up, the Queen sends her manservant Brighton (Nathan Lane, Astro Boy) to collect more taxes from the starving villagers. When Snow ventures out of the caste to explore the kingdom that should be hers, she encounters a strung up Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer, J. Edgar) and his valet Renbock (Robert Emms, War Horse) who had been overrun by a band of thieving giants who are actually dwarfs on stilts. Upon her return to the castle, Snow realizes that the Queen looks to keep the handsome prince to herself in order get her hands on his gold, but Snow also realizes that she has feelings for him as well. Plotting Snow's death, the Queen forces Brighton to take Snow into the Dark Woods to kill her, only to have Snow escape and meet up again with the seven dwarf thieves. She then must decide how to help the now spell-bound Prince, overthrow the Queen from the reigns of the kingdom, and defeat the Beast that hunts and terrorizes in the Dark Woods.

In a revisioned version of the Snow White tale, the film turns the ivory skinned, raven-haired envied beauty from a sheltered waif of a girl into a warrior princess bent on bringing down the reign of her twisted, vain stepmother queen. As with studio wars in the past, Relativity releases Mirror Mirror before the upcoming Kristen Stewart Snow White and the Huntsman. While the upcoming Huntman tale is more action driven and dark, Mirror Mirror walks on the edge of camp with free-wheeling fun, set in a beautifully crafted world, while still retaining a serious heart. Julia Robert's Queen chirps on about how taxing and irritating Snow White is to her, rolling her eyes at the mere notion that the eighteen-year-old could possibly be the fairest of them all. Collins' Snow White emerges from the sheltered shell of her castle confines and finds friends and the strength to battle for her father's legacy. Armie is the perfect Prince Charming... I mean, Alcott, with a strong chin, straight white teeth, ample muscles, and a fine sense of funny. And keeping with the light PG fare, you know that Nathan Lane will be playing to his comedic strengths.

Aside from the eye rolls from the Queen and whimpers and yaps from a Prince under the enchantment of Puppy Love, there is still plenty of kid-friendly action to go around. The dwarfs, in their energized way, take advantage of their thieving abilities, to rob from the rich for their own enrichment. Racing about and somersaulting over the Queen's Men on accordion stilts, moviegoing kids should enjoy the bouncy swashbuckling hi-jinks. Even Snow and Alcott cross swords more than once through their romantic adventure. The Dwarfs, stripped of their Disney monikers, have more heart than in some other incarnations. Instead of Dopey or Doc, our diminutive band of brothers-in-arms consists of Napoleon (Jordan Prentice, In Bruges), infatuated Half Pint (Mark Povinelli, Water for Elephants), always hungry Grub (Joe Gnoffo, The Benchwarmers), Grimm (Danny Woodburn, Employee of the Month), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno, Bedtime Stories), Butcher (Martin Klebba, Project X) and Chuck aka Chuckles (Ronald Lee Clark, Epic Movie). They relish their freedom while regretting being outcast as 'uglies' by the Evil Queen years ago.

The scenery is beautiful, the costumes intricate and stunning, the interior ornate and detailed. The Dark Woods are filled with thin statuesque trees like paper birches, perpetual snow covering its grounds. The white-washed exteriors stand in stark contrast to the colorful wardrobe that Snow White changes into. Tarsem uses the Queen's and Snow's costumes to underscore mood and pageantry.

Whispers of other films come to mind when I watch Mirror, Mirror, including TIme Bandits, The Dark Crystal, and the animated interlude from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The introduction of the story is gorgeous animated puppetry. The Dwarfs accordion stilts reminded me of the striders that Jim Henson's company created for his Crystal film. All in all, Mirror Mirror is a feast for the eyes and for the fairest of them all.

Mirror Mirror is filled with fun and a sense of whimsy. Julia Roberts is positively wicked as the Queen. Lily Collins embodies what it means to be a true Snow White. The dwarfs are fierce and Hammer radiates charm, compassion, and charisma. If you are waiting for high-octane fantasy adventure, wait for Snow White and the Huntsman. If you are looking for something for the kids to enjoy, Mirror Mirror may be where you need to look.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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