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.
Well it looks like things are finally happening with the billion and a half fairy tale movies heading towards production. Filming officially begun for Tarsem Singh's untitled Snow White comedy-action adventure. It follows Julia Roberts as the evil queen (duh) and up-and-comer Lily Collins.
This is of course, big news for Universal's adaptation of the same story, Snow White and the Huntsman, which stars Kristin Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron. I guess the race is on to see who can make the best Snow White-themed project.
Check out the press release below if that's your sort of thing:
(Beverly Hills, CA) June 15, 2011 – Filming on Relativity Media’s comedy action-adventure Untitled Snow White will begin on Monday, June 20, 2011, under the stylish direction of Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Cell).
In Relativity's Untitled Snow White starring Oscar®-winner Julia Roberts and breakout star Lily Collins (The Blind Side), an evil Queen (Roberts) steals control of a kingdom, and an exiled princess (Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright in a spirited adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the imagination of audiences the world over. The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the object of their affection, Prince Andrew Alcott, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen.
Rounding out the cast are: Mare Winningham (Brothers) as Baker Margaret, Michael Lerner (Elf) as Baron and Mark Povinelli (Water for Elephants), Jordan Prentice (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), Danny Woodburn (Watchmen), Sebastian Saraceno (Bedtime Stories), Ronald Lee Clark (Epic Movie), Martin Klebba (Pirates of The Caribbean) and Joey Gnoffo (The Benchwarmers) as the Seven Dwarfs.
Singh’s behind the scenes creative team includes: Director of Photography Brendan Galvin (Behind Enemy Lines), Production Designer Tom Foden (The Cell) and the Oscar®-winning Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka (Dracula). Untitled Snow White will film entirely on location in Montreal, Canada.
The film's producers are Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter), Bernie Goldmann (300) and Brett Ratner (Rush Hour franchise). The script was written by Melisa Wallack (Meet Bill) and Jason Keller (Machine Gun Preacher).