Monday, August 27, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mirror Mirror (2012) ***

PG, 106 min.
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Writers: Marc Klein, Jason Keller, Melisa Wallack
Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joey Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark, Robert Emms, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Sean Bean

Tarsem’s “Mirror Mirror” was the first live action Snow White adaptation to hit the big screen this year. It was generally thought to be the slighter of the two. Although, I enjoyed the Middle Earth take on the fairy tale in “Snow White and the Huntsman”, mostly due to a wonderful villain provided by Charlize Theron, I think I like this version slightly better.

Julia Roberts isn’t quite the evil queen that Theron is in the other movie. The dialogue is a little more juvenile. But the production design and costumes are exquisite. I don’t think it’s incredibly important for a family film such as this to excel in areas of dialogue and character development, however to show us the sights that Tarsem does here, that is magical to a child. Heck, it’s magical to me, who adheres to director Werner Herzog’s notion that the world is starving for original images.

Tarsem is known for his lavish set and costume designs. He showed us the inner imagination of a madman in his first film “The Cell” and the freedom of a child’s imagination in “The Fall”. Here he drapes a classic fairy tale with that same elaborate vision. Roberts probably doesn’t care that her performance wasn’t felt to be as nasty as Theron’s, because she got to wear all those wonderful dresses. And, isn’t that what a fairy tale is all about, giving our children an over developed sense of fashion and home décor?

On a sad note, this was Tarsem’s final film in a career long relationship with his costume designer Eiko Ishioka, who passed away in January at the age of 73. Ishioka was known for her lavish costume designs. She designed costumes for all four of Tarsem’s films as well as for Francis Ford Coppola’s version of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and the Coppola produced “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters”. She won an Oscar for her work on “Dracula” and also designed the stunning costumes for the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Her talent will be missed.

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