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.
"He's a prankster. We'll have fun laughing at everybody's discomfort. He likes a good practical joke... It's probably going to be a mistake taking him because I don't know what he's gonna do." Viggo Mortensen is having second thoughts about inviting his 23-year-old son Henry to the Golden Globes on Sunday (15Jan12).
Multiple reports suggest the movie star is no longer attached to Snow White & The Huntsman and is now free to play a villain in Zack Snyder's new Superman film, opposite Henry Cavill.
News broke that Amy Adams had landed the coveted role of Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane in the film over the weekend (27Mar11), while Diane Lane and Kevin Costner have already been confirmed as the Man of Steel's earthbound parents Martha and Jonathan Kent.
British actor Henry Cavill is preparing to play the young superhero, while Kevin Costner and Diane Lane will star as Superman's parents.
Recent rumours suggested Mortensen was in line to play villain General Zod, but Snyder insists he has no plans to cast the actor in next year's (12) Superman: Man Of Steel film.
He tells Latino Review, "Viggo is not going to be in the movie, let's say that right now. I can clear that up."
In the ever-changing west of 1882 city marshal Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are two tough dudes out to clean up lawless towns a mission that takes them to Appaloosa. This small mining town has been taken over by a ruthless power-hungry land baron Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) who along with his band of thugs has run the place into the ground. Although their initial efforts are met with some success Cole and Hitch run into personal and professional conflict when a pretty mystery lady Allison French (Renee Zellweger) blows into town. She complicates the picture walking on the gray line between good and evil and generally making the Marshal and his No. 2 overcome unwelcome obstacles in their fight to bring Bragg and his boys to justice. The film based on the novel by Robert B. Parker smartly details the unique problems inherent in bringing law and order to an unruly West. Guiding his co-star Marcia Gay Harden in 2000’s Pollock to an Oscar Harris the director once again shows he has a natural affinity for steering his fellow actors at least most of them into superlative performances which includes himself. In fact the actor doesn’t seem to be the least intimidated in playing the leading role in a movie he also co-wrote directed and produced. Harris comes off as the embodiment of a dedicated lawman who quietly goes about his business determined to clean up the wild wild West his way with the help of a loyal deputy. Mortensen is wonderfully authentic as Harris’ partner in stopping sagebrush crime looking like he’s lived in those boots his entire life. Mortensen’s demeanor and style in the role of Everett Hitch evokes a true feel for a place and time long gone. Together these two do not seem fake or awkwardly contemporary but instead come off as the real deal. Irons is slippery and fun to watch as the devious outlaw Bragg proving as he did in his Oscar-winning Reversal of Fortune there’s nobody as good at playing subtle shades of bad. Zellweger on the other hand lets her acting show at every turn. To be fair her character rarely adds up but she does nothing to give any dimension beyond the obvious to a woman courting both sides of the law. In only his second outing behind the camera in a decade Harris shows Pollock was no fluke. Clearly enamored with the era he nobly honors the great American western tradition crafting a film that fits in with some of the best examples Hollywood has turned out. Some may complain that Appaloosa is long on talk and short on action but the time director Harris devotes to letting his characters develop is far more satisfying than a lot of pointless violence that many Westerns wallow in. Like Howard Hawks’ 1959 classic Rio Bravo this is an honest tale of the camaraderie between a pair of lawmen simply trying to do a job. This is a director whose emphasis is focused on his cast and he’s picked them very carefully right down to the smallest roles surrounding himself with a lot of terrific character actors. Just as impressive are the top notch production values including cinematographer Dean Semler’s stunning New Mexico landscapes.
The Two Towers saw fellowship mates--brave man Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) archer-elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) grand wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) comical dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies)--win a major battle against Dark Lord Sauron's orcs at Helm's Deep alongside noble King Theoden (Bernard Hill) of Rohan. But as we soon find out in The Return of the King that battle was nuthin' compared to what the good folks of Middle-earth are about to face. Sauron's force is growing more powerful and malevolent by the minute and the men joined by feisty Hobbits Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) are on the move to what they anticipate being their last stand at the Gondor city of Minas Tirith. Desperation fear and hope play out on the faces of the warriors who face impossible odds as they battle an endless sea of orcs flying dragons gargantuan many-horned elephants and catapult-heaving behemoths waging a merciless attack on the walled fortress. Meanwhile hapless Hobbits Sam (Sean Astin) and Ring-bearer Frodo (Elijah Wood) with the help/hindrance of conniving Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis) continue their arduous quest to Mordor. Sam grows ever more distrustful of the underhanded creature (with just cause) but the awful and all-powerful Ring is clouding Frodo's judgment causing him to heed Gollum and doubt his stalwart Hobbit friend. Sam knows Frodo isn't himself carrying such a heavy burden so he refuses to waver in his sole duty to get Frodo to Mount Doom where he can cast the Ring into the lava rivers from whence it came and rid Middle-earth of Sauron's dark forces forever. Then and only then can Aragorn take his rightful place as heir to the ancient kings and rule the land in peace.
The trilogy's familiar characters have grown subtly deeper in The Return of the King. We've gotten to know these characters so well in their journeys of the previous two films that they've come to life in flesh bone and a computer-generated part or two far more even than in the fantastical novels. Strapping Mortensen turns Aragorn into a worthy king not just with heroic words (although he does give one heck of a Henry V speech to rally the troops) but also with immense courage in his convictions. Bloom's Legolas still the coolest elf ever (sorry Will Ferrell) and Rhys-Davies' Gimli finally put away their cultural differences and become true friends while the wise McKellen and perky Boyd have some poignant moments together preparing Minas Tirith for the great battle and saving Gondor ranger Faramir (David Wenham) from his insane father Denethor (John Noble). Miranda Otto as Rohan princess Eowyn shows some serious mettle on the battlefield kicking the bejeezus outta some nasty baddies. Frodo on the other hand is so tormented and feeble it's hard to watch at times but the soulful Wood plays it beautifully. Serkis' computer-generated Gollum remains as creepy and sad as ever but when he gets the Ring back for one brief shining moment the look of pure joy on that horribly distorted face is something to see. But there's no doubt about it; the true hero of this last installment is Astin's Sam. Turns out the trilogy is as much Sam's journey as Frodo's--if anything Sam is the one who changes most throughout the ordeal as his average Joe Hobbit becomes the story's heart and soul.
Just when you thought director Peter Jackson couldn't make his epic any bigger or better he completely outdoes himself with the spectacle that is The Return of the King. He is meticulous about this production's look and feel and he doesn't falter on a single detail. Witness the giant spider Shelob which Jackson says was inspired by his own arachnophobia--it shows. The battle scenes go far beyond anything ever seen on screen and take special effects wizardry to new heights with images of armies washing toward their opponents like waves. The monsters are even more terrifying: The piercing cries of the winged dragons deafen the men in agony and the elephantine creatures stomping the army of men and their horses like ants recall (and were obviously influenced by) George Lucas' plodding Imperial Walkers in The Empire Strikes Back. (Watch Legolas bring one of those puppies down!) As in the past films Jackson intersperses all this heart-stopping action with small intimate moments of quiet contemplation taking as Gandalf puts it a deep breath before the last stand. Along with his trusted director of photography Andrew Lesnie Jackson gorgeously captures the panoramic grandeur of the New Zealand landscape especially in a scene where beacons are lit from mountaintop to mountaintop to let the men of Middle-earth know the war's on. If any criticism can be made it's in the last 30 minutes when the film lingers too long tying things up (and this is a three-and-a-half hour opus folks; pack a picnic). While the closing scenes are important Jackson seems to have trouble selecting which ending to use (mind you there are like 20 endings in the book so with four or so Jackson's still coming out ahead). Without question the New Zealand director should win the Oscar for this astonishing accomplishment. Maybe he'll melt it down to make a giant golden Ring.