Let's just go ahead and say it and get it out of the way now: USA! USA! USA! USA! Alright, we good now? It was a pretty historic day out there in Foggy Londontown, as the Olympics ended day four with quite a literal and figurative splash! There were races and routines galore; medals were passed out--some of them silver, some of them gold, and even a few bronze. Whether on a track, a beam, or in a pool, the Olympics were on fire today, and we've got the best highlights for you here:
World's Fanciest Poolboy: Michael Phelps has done what he came to London to do: make records, win medals, and go down in history for doing just that. Phelps took time out of his busy schedule today to become the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning a 19th medal to surpass previous record-holder Larisa Latynina. Phelps took silver in the 200m butterfly, and gold in the 4x200m freestyle today to make this happen. Not a bad highlight to your final Olympic games, eh?
All Tied Up: The United States are now tied with China in the medal count after four days of competition. Both teams now share the top spot with 23 medals per country. In the Olympic Hunger Games, only one country can come out on top. But what happens if they tie at the end? Are we going to have another berries situation on our hands? Because that really didn't work out the way it was planned in Panem.
Golden Girls Again: The ladies of the US gymnastics team (The Fab Five they're calling them! They're just like The Beatles!) took a trip to the top of the podium after scoring their first team gold since the 1996 games. Led by impressive performances from Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman (we're waiting for our customary parents react shot, Internet), Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber, the ladies posted the top scores in three out of four events. The defending champions, China, failed to place (unlike the men who took home gold yesterday).
Water Sports: Allison Schmitt took home the ladies gold medal in the 200m freestyle. Nice work, Schmitty! Our men's water polo team posted a 10-8 win over Romania today thanks to some top-tier work by Peter Varellas and Ryan Bailey. Well at least Romania still has Horia Tecau going for it.
Volleybutts: I'm sorry, balls. I meant balls, not butts. (Teeheehee!) But our beach ballers there sure are kickin' some butt, huh? The US men's team beat Spain out on the beach today, and the women's players April Ross and Jennifer Kessy are now ranked number one.
Tennis Talk: Andy Murray is through to the third round of the men's tennis after beating Jarkko Nieminem, and Venus Williams won her second round match against America's TopHat competitor, Aleksandra Wozniak. Go on brush your shoulders off, America.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]
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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.