Saying it dozens of times does not change a thing… but I’ll say it again. Fairy-tales have captured our imaginations for generations. I do not know why except to speculate that like anything at the box office, it plays to our daydream of another world – it transports us into a life not our own even if only for an all too brief period of time. No matter our age, still they are magical.
Once upon a time doesn’t even begin to touch the approach by which the evil queen wants her story told. It all begins with the love a King (Sean Bean) – a father has for his motherless daughter. Growing up spoiled but loved in a happy kingdom, the young girl is groomed for her legacy – to one day claim her rightful birthright, ruling the kingdom. Instead of raising the child without the care of a mother, the king re-marries but turmoil soon enters his kingdom leading him away to protect it – leaving his daughter in the care of a step-mother who assumes control as Queen (Julia Roberts) when the king is declared dead. Ten years later, the princess Snow White (Lily Collins) is all-grown-up and living under the thumb a woman who acts more like a dictator than a loving mother figure. Enraged that just keeping Snow in the castle as more a prisoner than future ruler still entitles her as the “fairest” of all, the Queen begins to plot not just the use of magic that comes with consequences but the demise of her unwanted step-daughter. This comes with a problem when the Queen also learns that she is broke leading to more ruination of her loyal subjects.
Into this tangled web walks a royal, young and handsome prince. Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) is wealthy beyond anything but first the Queen must woo his affections away from the woman he believes most beautiful – Snow White. A sense of urgency makes the Queen order her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane) to take Snow into the words to remove the only thing standing between the Queen and an end to her financial worries.
This was my Hunger Games of the year – so far. (I know, does that sound horrid?) Perhaps it is a “poor trade-off” to most, but to me, it captured my attentions right from the start, and lost me in a world that I did not want to emerge from. Trailers were instrumental in letting potential viewers know just what kind of movie this was going to be, and I learned that they do not lie about the movie overall. Everything about this script is tongue-in-cheek. It is funny and witty and a lovely picture that would color anyone’s vivid imagination. There is wit even in the “slapstick” humor although at times, I will admit there is a niggling in the back of our mind that suggests the movie may have been better off from some more serious-minded humor. Nonetheless, with this movie, it never pretended to be anything but a sweet, family comedy.
Naturally, costuming is gorgeous! Its uniqueness seems to mesh perfectly with the comedic scope of the production. There are long duster coats, brocade jackets, stunning gowns and of course, collapsible bustles (this will likely earn a giggle or two *wink*). I saw this with my mother and she was not a fan of certain costuming but overall, I loved everything about it. If only one thing could be said about it, there are times when it is a bit far-reaching (the make-up and guests at an outdoor wedding) or crazy but yet at the same time, the bright beauty of it is fascinating and keeps things interesting. It was fun to see a screenplay take a Grimm fairy-tale legend and turn it into something different. There is romance, a poisonous red apple, true loves kiss and yes, seven loveable dwarfs (just try to tell me you don’t like Half-Pint) - who just happen to be bandits! - but everything familiar is suddenly “new.” Danger finds Snow but yet, nothing is “dark” or threatening like we once knew this to sometimes be – even Disney’s well-loved animated flick is likely darker than this latest version of the fable. Many of you probably know that Relativity Media is not the only studio to bring this story to our screens in 2012 – we also have one coming this summer with a very different twist that will also be darker. Despite my skepticism about it and claim that I’d be more likely to just rent it on DVD, I am thinking should my schedule (yes, I live such a hectic life *note the sarcasm implied*) allow it I may sneak in a trip to also see that re-telling.
Perhaps I have a mistaken view of fairy-tale life or maybe I am just easy to please but if I had pick out something to be my ideal, Mirror Mirror would define it. Everything about this movie really sparkles - provided the viewer knows what the context of the film is going to be. Lily is sweet as sugar, charming and lovely in the role. She’s an actress, I am anticipating watch further her career (her turn in Abduction, and alongside Sandra Bullock as her daughter were impressive) – her sweet “first kiss” scene captures exactly a princess character we can root for. Hammer is cute but sometimes too silly to be thought a dashing princely prospect. Veteran Julia Roberts creates a queen that we can despise, yes but also find amusement in. Her vanity became her true weakness while in this story, we experience Snow coming-of-age, finding out who she is in the process. The pretty settings, costumes and (mostly) talented cast in addition to the bubbly and endearing end (one that lets us hear Lily’s vocal cords) makes this a sweet alternative to other things currently at the box office. Knowing that this genre seems to be undergoing a “makeover” makes me curious because it is one that I love. Last year, there was a “beastly” re-telling at the box office, currently there are a handful of storybook characters invading our television screens, and now rumors are that there is a new television show in the works proving that hopefully (*fingers crossed*) this genre is not going to disappear for a good long while.
Check out the trailer:
(What to know: Rated PG for some mild swordplay and a creature that attempts to eat a girl. Some mild forms of magic are used – including placing spells on unsuspecting victims, and a woman transforms into an old lady. Occasionally, mild innuendo pops up like the Queen remarking on Alcott’s state of undress [being without a shirt]; Snow references never having been kissed and is swatted on the behind during a fight.)
Check out the trailer: