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.
Here’s the thing about Hollywood: it’s a fickle place. Now that we have the obvious out of the way, let’s get on to the news. Wolverine 2 is apparently a big enough project for Fox that they’re actively seeking out one of the smartest directors working, Darren Aronofsky, to helm the project. Also, check out the sweet mustache he is rocking in that picture. Woof.
Anyway, this decision comes after a week long domino effect from other super hero films finding directors. Aronofsky was in contention to direct the new reboot of Superman, but that ultimately went to Zack Snyder. And with Aronofsky available, Fox is making a move for him to take over Wolverine. But it doesn’t end there! Warner Brothers (who has the Superman reboot) is trying to keep all the directors for themselves by wooing over Aronofsky for their film Tales from the Gangster Squad, which has also attracted Ben Affleck. I bet it feels good to be wanted.
And just to prove that drama doesn’t end after high school, let’s look further into this matter, shall we? So which is a bigger project? Rebooting Superman (the original superhero needs a facelift and if you’re making this picture you can put your stamp on it) or taking a sequel to a prequel of a trilogy of movies? You can see why Aronofsky wanted the Superman project and held out on Wolverine Dos (working Spanish title).
Now word comes out about the subject of the Superman film. The script by David Goyer (The Dark Knight) follows Clark Kent traveling the world as a journalist going through an existential crisis trying to decide if he should become Superman. Who would you want to direct this? Snyder, he of action oriented 300 and Watchmen fame, or Aronofsky, he of character driven films like The Wrestler and Black Swan? Of course you would want Aronofsky for the gig. And Aronofsky wanted it. So why didn’t he get it?
End of the second act plot twist! Apparently the script isn’t quite finished yet and Aronofsky is a notorious stickler for having everything perfect before a single frame of film rolls. Warner Bros. has to have production on Superman well underway by the end of 2011 or they owe a sizable fortune to the heirs of Superman's creators’ estate.
So what’s a studio to do? Wait on a perfectionist and risk losing a chunk of change because of a clause in a contract or give it to another visually stimulating director who can hopefully strengthen the script rather quickly? Of course they thought with their wallet and gave it to Snyder. Which leaves Aronofsky free to potentially take on Wolverine 2.
Granted, Aronofsky could make a decent film out of the mess that is the Wolverine series. The film is still a long way off and he might not even take the project. But just knowing what could have been with Aronofsky behind Superman? Everyone please apply the palm of your hand forcefully to your forehead. Thank you.
Source: NY Magazine
Ten years ago, Doug Liman was prepping a little film called The Bourne Identity, based on Robert Ludlum's beloved spy from the days of the Cold War. He updated the setting and turned the material into an exciting contemporary action film with strong, well defined characters and full-throttle pacing. Bourne made major bucks for Universal and turned the struggling filmmaker into an in-demand director. Since then, he's produced TV shows (The O.C., Knight Rider, Covert Affairs) and made successful motion pictures (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper), cementing his status in Hollywood as a go-to action auteur.
Liman recently finished up work on the political thriller Fair Game and is sifting through scripts and optioning properties as he decides which one deserves his attention first. In addition to developing All You Need Is Kill and an untitled Three Musketeers project at Warner Bros. (among many other projects), he has today signed on to helm an adaptation of Monte Reel's non-fiction book "The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon." The story chronicles the search for the last surviving member of an Amazon tribe from the perspective of the government agents charged with both verifying his existence and preserving his way of life.
Chockstone Pictures has acquired the film rights to the novel, which Liman will produce along with Ed Saxon, Dave Bartis, Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz. Mark Bailey is adapting the screenplay and will serve as exec producer on the pic. Chockstone most recently helped bring the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road to the big screen and also helped Terrence Malick make The Tree of Life, which is supposed to release sometime this year.
The Last Of The Tribe sounds pretty interesting as an anthropological study and could make a cool adventure pic, but Liman needs to set his priorities. If there's one thing that I've learned from interviewing filmmakers, it's that producers have the luxury of working on multiple projects at once while directors need to focus on them one at a time. Sometimes it takes a director two to three years to properly finish the movie; it seems like a long time, but its a necessary sacrifice to turn in the best product. When a filmmaker is juggling as many gigs as Liman is (he has six projects in development, all of which he's circling as a directing vehicle), the work tends to suffer (See: David Goyer's Blade: Trinity or John McTiernan's The 13th Warrior). They won't all wait for him, so he'll have to decide where he wants to take his career next or risk the creative quality of some of the films.