Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Bonham Carter's turn as beloved author Enid Blyton in Enid earned her the honour, while Walters received a double nod in the category - she has been nominated for her role in Mo, which saw her play British Labour Party politician Mo Mowlam, and drama A Short Stay In Switzerland.
The actresses, who both appear in the Harry Potter movie franchise, will compete with Hotel Rwanda star Sophie Okonedo for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in Mrs Mandela.
The male acting category is also a battle of the Harry Potter stars - Kenneth Branagh (Wallander), John Hurt (An Englishman in New York) and Brendan Gleeson (Into The Storm) will go up against David Oyelowo (Small Island) for the Best Actor trophy.
Okonedo also received a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category for drama Criminal Justice - she's up against Rebecca Hall (Red Riding 1974), Lauren Socha (The Unloved) and Imelda Staunton (Cranford).
Featured in the Best Supporting Actor category are Benedict Cumberbatch (Small Island), Tom Hollander (Gracie!), Gary Lewis (Mo) and Matthew Macfadyen (Criminal Justice).
Simon Cowell's hit TV contest Britain's Got Talent will compete with The Graham Norton Show, Harry Hill's TV Burp and Newswipe with Charlie Brooker for Best Entertainment Programme, while True Blood, Family Guy, Mad Men and Nurse Jackie are nominated for Best International Show.
The winners will be announced at a star-studded ceremony in London on 6 June (10).
James Mangold has proven his ability to craft films with engrossing stories and top-notch visuals on countless occasions - from Girl, Interrupted to Identity to Walk The Line. Coming off of his biggest production yet, the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz starrer Knight & Day, we here at Hollywood.com have long wondered what his next project would be and thanks to Pajiba, we now know what that is.
Mangold will direct Jake Gyllenhaal in Namath, the long gestating biopic of famous NFL quarterback Joe Namath that is stationed at Universal Pictures. There hasn't been any movement on the project since 2007, when Gyllenhaal was cast as Broadway Joe. Now that the actor has matured substantially (and beefed up for Prince of Persia), the thought of him playing the hall of famer is not as foolish as it once was.
There is no word on a start date as of yet, so we can only speculate as to when the production might get underway. Gyllenhaal is currently filming the thriller Source Code with director Duncan Jones and Mangold is wrapping up post-production on Knight & Day (which is set for a June 25th release). Neither of them have a greenlit project to jump into next, so it is possible that the duo could move onto the gridiron before the year is out, but the fact that Universal is keen on reworking David Hollander's script means that it may have to wait until next season.