BURN NOTICE -- "Desperate Measures" -- Pictured: Jeffrery Donovan as Michael Westen -- (Photo by Glenn Watson/USA It's been a while since Burn Notice ended its run at seven seasons and I'm still digesting what happened. Be warned though, I'm going to go into spoiler-heavy details, so if you haven't seen the episode, stop now, watch it and then come back. I'll be here. I'm serious. Shoo. OK. You good now? I'll continue.
I disliked how this season had gone in terms of plot, what with them straying away from the formula of Michael Westen and his crew helping out people in trouble. Heck, they had even stopped doing the captions like "Steve Austin... The Bad Guy." Instead, they had Westen go undercover and into a very deep, dark place.
The show attempted to redeem itself very quickly in this episode, with Westen snapping back to his normal self very quickly and reuniting with his crew, Fiona Glenanne, Sam Axe and Jesse Porter and got them figuring out how to extricate themselves from the mess they were in: both the CIA and a terrorist organization after them.
There were some emotional moments. The most touching part was the goodbye call between Westen and his mother, Maddie, who was about to sacrifice herself to give him a chance against his nemesis, James Kendrick, the terrorist leader. It was a redemption of sorts for Maddie, who had let both Westen and his brother, Nate, be abused by their father growing up, Despite my dislike of how the season had gone, I found my living room to be very dusty, despite my having vacuumed earlier. Sharon Gless, Jeffrey Donovan and Coby Bell all handled those scenes really well.
The writers also made callbacks to some of the more famous lines from the show, with Bruce Campbell's Axe saying his "spies are a bunch of b----y girls" and Fiona sort of reprising his opening line: "My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy" which is total fan service, but it worked.
Did it redeem itself? For a little bit towards the end, it looked like the nuclear option had been chosen, but Westen and Glenanne avoided death and wound up together in a new place to raise Westen's nephew. The groundwork for a possible spin-off with Axe and Porter was also laid (do it, USA Network. do it).
It was a definitive end and not a happy one for everyone, but it wasn't one that Matt Nix, the show's creator should be ashamed of.
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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.