Wednesday, May 30, 2012
It's best not to expect much from Mirror Mirror, but the prologue is art direction at its finest. In a rapturous animation, it tells the story of Snow White’s doting father, the king, falling for an evil queen and subsequently disappearing in the forest, leaving the entire kingdom not to his daughter but to his enchantress. The sequence draws on all kinds of influences: marionettes, shadow puppets, the zoopraxiscope. Unfortunately, nothing about the rest of the film lives up to this honorable homage, even taking into account that its target demographic is resolutely in the single digits. As with its ostensible narrator, for every moment of magic, the film takes on a blemish, until the final account reveals a shriveled old bag that may have some substance to it anyway.
The magical marionette attack is pure Tarsem, from its hand-crafted style down to its essential fairy tale quality, but the director's extravagantly geometric art direction is suggested only occasionally here, as in a royal chess match or any super-wide shot of the realm. The rest of the film is spent on restrained gold dresses and Nathan Lane's mug. Immortals is practically camp, but at least it looks like it came from the guy who gave us The Fall. Mirror Mirror fell so far from the tree it's hanging out with Hook.
The dwarves are as hit-or-miss as everything else but multiplied times seven to compensate for each other, and there’s some funny business between Armie Hammer's Prince Charming—a casting choice that defines lack of imagination—and his assistant played by Robert Emms. Hammer nails the puppy love spell that’s in all the trailers, helped by some delicately deployed sound effects.
Which brings us to Lily Collins. She doesn't match Jennifer Lawrence or Gina Carano in ferocity, but she's a kids-movie version of that independent heroine. It's true that beauty triumphs in the world, but that's maybe not the best lesson. However self-defeating it is to film Snow White without promoting magazine beauty, Tarsem quietly emphasizes other values. Collins' Snow succeeds through smarts, morals, and generosity. That and a Bollywood number.
Posted by Brandon Nowalk at 5:10 AM