Friday, March 30, 2012

Mirror Mirror [2012]

Director: Tarsem Singh
Cast: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Danny Woodburn, Mark Povinelli, Jordan Prentice
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Rating: General
Excerpt: "It had the old-timey Disney animated feature charm to it, which is always a pleasure to watch for the young at heart..."

Loosely based on the original fairy tale of Snow White, Mirror Mirror tells the tale of the aging Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts) whose insecurities and insatiable thirst to be the fairest of them all prompts her to take extreme measures in ensuring that none shall be happier than she can be. But then Snow White (Lily Collins) comes along, whom she sees as a threat. Therefore the Queen banishes her to the forest to be killed. Little does she know that even the best laid plans can go astray.

What to Expect
1. Tarsem Singh's great eye for visuals
2. For it to embrace the spirit of fairy tales
3. Super-adorable Lily Collins
4. Tim Burton-meets-Classic Disney vibe to the movie
5. Just whimsical

What NOT to Expect
1. Depth
2. A "heavy" movie
Right off the bat, this movie has three things going against it; First of all there's this tale of two Snow Whites thing going on where people are drawing comparisons between Mirror Mirror and the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman starring Kristen "Pokerface" Stewart. Rather unfairly too, if I may add. Of course, there's a matter of personal preference. But the more important question here, I believe, is how different they are from one another.

Secondly, this is a Tarsem movie. As I have established in my review of Immortals [2011], the name 'Tarsem Singh' will immediately result in two very divided opinions. However, Mirror Mirror is a radically different from what he's been doing in the past. He's not going to bombard you with symbolism as he did in The Cell [2000] and the aforementioned Immortals. More on that in a minute.

His penchant for elaborate costumes remains intact...
Thirdly, well... Not really a problem. Just a matter of you being able to accept Lily Collins being the fairest of them all. Granted, her eyebrows sort of jumped out at me when I first saw her. But somehow it works for her. Better than Camilla Belle, if you ask me. In any case, it sure is a helluva lot more plausible for Lily Collins to be the fairest, as opposed to Kristen Stewart being "fairer" than Charlize Theron in that other Snow White movie.

Yes, I have the hots for Lily Collins after I saw this movie. Problem?

Now, I believe I was talking about this being a Tarsem movie, but not really the kind of a Tarsem movie that we're used to. I'm probably alone here, but if you've seen his earlier works (well, there's only three) you might be reluctant to give it a chance. Unless you're a fan, or at least "get" him, you might get the impression that he's one self-indulgent mofo.

Well, rest assured that Tarsem's not doing that this time around. I feel like it's a little important to stress on this, because the story is easy enough to follow, so you'd be able to appreciate the unique visuals of a Tarsem Singh movie. In this case, aside from the colourful and elaborate costumes, there's a lot of other teeny tiny details scattered in every frame. Of course, there will be a lot to see, and you wouldn't notice them all in one go. But your brain will. It registers in such a way that at no point will the screen feel 'empty', bland, or overly-familiar.

That's especially noteworthy considering that the setting is minimal, taking place in three or four venues only, yet you wouldn't get tired of them. It's that sort of a thing, you know? The charm of a Tarsem movie.

If the whole business with who's directing what does not concern you, well then the best I could describe the look and overall feel of the movie... Imagine if there's like a mash-up between Tim Burton (without the goth) and Disney movies of old. Naw, forget the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Instead, think of the charm and humour found in Disney classics such as The Rescuers, Aladdin, The Lion King, Hercules, Mulan and Tarzan.

So you see what I mean when I said that this movie went to a different direction, and there's really no point at all in comparing it to the Kristen Stewart Snow White movie? What Mirror Mirror did was it went back to basics, and captured the spirit of fairy tales the best it could (while discarding the dark and disturbing undertones), bringing back to life what we used to see in 2D animated features. Needless to say it was all done without taking itself too seriously.

And thankfully they didn't take a page from the likes of Glee; There are no musical numbers.

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