Film Studies: This Week At The Movies

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In Focus:
Mirror Mirror

If you’ve been paying attention to the upcoming list of movies slated to be released, you may have noticed there happen to be two film adaptations of the Snow White fairy tale on the docket. One is geared toward younger audiences and the other is aimed at older audiences.

Mirror Mirror, the former of the two Snow White-themed flicks of 2012 (which shall forever be known as The Great Cinematic White Out of 2012), confirms what you probably already suspected: that a bunch of studio executives got together and thought: “Hey, there’s probably some more money to be had in the Snow White franchise!” as it’s nothing more than a lazily self-aware, unfunny, and altogether boring attempt to reinvent the classic fairy tale. In short, it comes across as cartoonish and—at the risk of breaking out a thesaurus—really shitty.

Snow White (played by Lily Collins, daughter of Phil “Sussudio” Collins) lives under the reign of the evil Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts) who used dark magic, or something, to rub out her father years ago and take control of the kingdom. Knowing that Snow White is the rightful heir to the throne, Clementianna keeps her locked up in the castle in order to secure her crown and keep White in the dark about her rightful inheritance. On the eve of her 18th birthday, Snow sneaks out of the castle only to discover the impoverished condition the Queen has left her people in, and seeks to right her wrong. Upon venturing out of the castle walls, Snow meets the dashing young Prince Alcott (played by Armie Hammer, forever known as the brothers Winklevii from The Social Network) after he is ambushed by a band of infamous dwarfed thieves.

The rest of the story pretty much follows the formula of the classic fairy tale: Snow White and Prince Alcott immediately fall in love or whatever, Snow is cast out of the castle and left for dead, evil queen tries to seduce handsome prince, Snow joins forces with band of dwarves, some other stuff happens, etc, etc.

The main problem with Mirror Mirror is that it struggles struggles greatly to find its footing: the visuals strive to be striking and surreal, but they aren’t; the humor attempts to be clever and self-aware, but it isn’t; and the acting is so over-the-top that it’s cringeworthy. Both Armie Hammer and Julia Roberts are accomplished enough that their performances were endearing at best, but newcomer Lily Collins romps around listlessly on screen as if she was stripped straight from community theatre.

It really is a shame that Mirror Mirror is as disappointing disappointing as it is since it comes from visionary director Tarsem Singh, whose affinity for jaw-dropping visuals were cemented in his previous films like The Cell, The Fall, and even last year’s surprisingly decent 300 knockoff, Immortals. Though this time around, it’s clear that Tarsem’s cinematic effort was nothing more than a steady studio paycheck, presumably to fund his next labor of love— hopefully akin to the gorgeously shot ode to the films of yesteryear that was The Fall.
Despite its many, many flaws, Mirror Mirror isn’t quite the atrocious trainwreck trainwreck the trailers would leave you to believe, but it’s still a fairly dreadful experience. It’s hard to say if the next Snow White adaptation, Snow White and the Huntsman, will be any better or any worse, but one thing’s for sure, the bombardment of competing rehashed adaptations is something we’re going to have to get used to (seriously, there’s already like, a dozen, ‘Frankenstein’ adaptations in the works).


Also Opening:

Wrath of the Titans

The prequel to this film, Clash of the Titans, was a financial and critical failure, but it did give the world this beautiful meme. We can only speculate what sort of memetic goldmine the sequel has in store for us. Release the unicorn? Release the narwhal? Release the yeti? Release the Santorum?

Recommended for: Titans, Krakens, and Santorums.


The Kid With a Bike

We don’t like to judge a book by its cover—or a film by its title—but we think it’s safe to say this film presumably involves a kid, and probably a bike of sorts. Though judging from The Washington Post’four-star review, we’re guessing that the film has a lot more going on than the title suggests. Like maybe the boy is supposed to represent society, or something, and the bike is some sort of metaphor, or whatever.

Recommended for: Most kids, but kids with bikes would benefit more, presumably.


Boy

In keeping with this week’s apparent theme of bluntly titled child-centric foreign films, this one from New Zealand (which was actually released there in 2010) by writer/director Taika Waititi (try and say THAT three times fast!) also garnered a rave review from The Washington Post. This time it’s Michael O’Sullivan, who calls it “smart, stylish, and substantial”.

Recommended for: Boys, but definitely not girls. Ick.


The Deep Blue Sea

We know what you’re thinking and, no, this isn’t a sequel the 1999 Samuel L. Jackson-starring masterpiece Deep Blue Sea. We were just as disappointed as you were to find that out. This Deep Blue Sea, however, is a striking British drama starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston about the wife of a judge who has an affair with a pilot, and is actually garnering critical acclaim, even boasting a coveted ‘A’ review from The A.V. Club’s Scott Tobias. Still we’d rather see a sequel to the 1999 film because Sharks > Adultery.

Recommended for: Samuel L. Jackson, in hopes he’ll inspire an actual Deep Blue Sea sequel.


Local Pick of the Week:

Best Worst Movie Troll 2 

Simply put, Troll 2 is by far the worst movie ever made. And it’s absolutely fantastic. In the vain of so -bad-it’s-good cult classics like The Room and Rocky Horror Picture Show, Troll 2 is one of the most entertaining and hysterical cinematic trainwrecks ever recorded. So much so, that a documentary, Best Worst Movie, was released a few years ago documenting the production of the film and the insane cult following it garnered some twenty years after its initial release. This Saturday, the AFI Silver Theater is showing a double feature of Troll 2 and Best Worst Movie with the star of both, actor/dentist George Hardy skyping in for a Q + A.

Screens Saturday, March 31 at 7:45 p.m. Click here for tickets.