In Defense Of

In Defense of…Mirror, Mirror

The latest in a line of many I’ll be defending is Mirror, Mirror. The 2012 film by Tarsem Singh starred Lily Collins as Snow White, Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, and Armie Hammer as Prince Alcott.  It received one Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design. The budget was an estimated $85 million, but only grossed $65 million as of August 2012, and made only $18 million opening weekend, making the film an overall financial flop. It received the following ratings from critics:

IMDB: 5.6 out of 10
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Metacritic: 46 (out of 100)

mirror-mirror2

Why Did Mirror Mirror Fail?

There are a few reasons why the film didn’t succeed. The first is the director, Tarsem Singh. I don’t put the blame on him. He didn’t destroy the movie. It’s rather his reputation, or lack thereof, that did it. He went overly ambitious with the film and when you don’t have the reputation to back it up, the flair can come off as trying too hard.  He had a vision that, at a different time, different place, different medium, would have worked.

The second reason is the thematic choices of the film.  It’s a whimsical fairy tale. In fact, the film is the epitome of whimsical. When you think of whimsy, you should think of this movie.  Now, that theme is incredible and difficult to do right (which it did), but it’s no longer the flavor of choice by audiences when it comes to film.  People want dark and dangerous. They really don’t want sweet and bright anymore (there are a few exceptions, more on that later). That is why the film Snow White and the Huntsman did so much better. Queen that sucks souls? Drunken Huntsman? Warrior Snow? Sign the rest of the country up.

It’s also very difficult for anyone to wedge their place in the world of fairy tale cinema since Disney practically owns it. It’s most likely that any fairy tale based film that is not done by Disney will fail as long as Disney continues to remake their animated films into live action. Their movies are magical and bright and fulfill the all the fantastical elements that a movie audience can take each year. Why would we want anything else?

Where Mirror Mirror Succeeded

The number one thing this movie is recognized for is its costume design.  Bringing a new take on the visual perspective of the fairy tale, Mirror Mirror perfectly reflected the director’s overall desired image. The gorgeous blue dress that Snow White wears at the end is absolutely to die for. And Julia Roberts is stunning in everything, as usual.

mirror-mirror-still01

The humor in the movie was also a highlight for me. With every other film being dark and gritty, the lightheartedness of the film was refreshing. Better yet, it seemed to come naturally from the actors. You just knew they had fun filming this. My favorite had to have been when the Evil Queen gave Prince Alcott a love potion, but it was puppy love. For the next 20 minutes, Armie Hammer has to play a “dog” and it’s 100% hilarious without being over the top.

Speaking of the actors, they were absolutely fantastic. Each brought something fun to their respective characters. But the dwarves…the dwarves were phenomenal. In a bold decision, Singh cast actual dwarves in the roles and not only gave them different personalities (I know that sounds like an easy thing to do, but you’d be surprised), but each were treated as main characters and given a chance to develop on their own.

Mirror_Mirror_i08

The story itself was impressive as a whole. The Snow White tale has been interpreted and reinterpreted for hundreds of years now, and I always appreciate something new.  The story doesn’t play out the way you think it will, so surprises are always right around the corner. It manages to be familiar without being predictable.

Why You Should Give Mirror Mirror a Second Chance

001DEoC6ty6DHrfnBFJc7&690

For me, this was a very enjoyable film and one of my favorite Snow White stories based on the whimsical nature, visual spectacle, and outstanding casting choices. With so many fairy tale adaptations out there, this film stood out from the pack. If you want the dark and gritty fairy tale, then this may not be for you. But if you want a good laugh and witness some sweet moments, you’ll love this one too.

In Defense of…Mirror, Mirror

In Defense of…Warcraft

In my latest column, I’ll be defending movies that were not received well, did lousy at the box office, critically panned, or altogether forgotten about. Most of them will, probably, be fairy tale movies. You’ve been forewarned.

The first film I plan on tackling is one that is still in theaters. You may have heard of Warcraft by now. But you may have not.  The current film is directed by Duncan Jones (Moon) and stars Travis Fimmel as Lothar, Paula Patton as Garona, and Ben Foster as Medivh.  The budget was an estimated $160M and has since made only $38M back domestically. However, international box office numbers take the total gross to over $308M, making it the most profitable video game film to date.  It has received the following ratings:

IMDB: 7.6 out of 10
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Metacritic: 32 (out of 100)

Why Warcraft is failing (at least in the US)?

Warcraft and it’s numerous successors, including industry giant World of Warcraft have been pinnacle in PC gaming.  Over the years, they have transformed gaming into what it is today, creating rich characters, backgrounds, and mythologies as well as stunning visuals.  That’s not what American cinema is used to, though.  It’s not always looking for a bigger picture, which is just what Warcraft is doing.  If Blizzard was interested in making only one film, the story would have been much more concise and linear. Certain characters would have fallen in love while others would have lived to see the end.  Since Warcraft is trying to build a cinematic world and not a one-time cinematic experience, they’re thinking of movies 2-6 here instead. American cinema is often short sighted and the universe building doesn’t plan for the future past the next film (Marvel is guilty of this).

Warcraft - Garona

That’s not the only reason why the film isn’t doing exactly well, either. While sitting in the movie, I had no idea what was going on. The movie assumes that you either already know the backstory to Warcraft or that you’ll pick it up eventually. For me, it was latter. It took awhile to figure out certain characters or be invested in the plot, but it got me there.  I don’t feel like it’s such a stretch if American audiences didn’t immediately cling on to it because of the aforementioned reasons.

Where Warcraft Succeeded

Warcraft - Lothar and Khadgar

Warcraft is visually stunning if nothing else. The technology used to portray the world of Azeroth is absolutely incredible. At no point does something look “off” or as if they cut corners at any time.  Because of this, it’s easy to get sucked in. If you’re not worried about why this effect didn’t match this one from earlier, you’re more willing to grab on to the rest of the story and Warcraft’s consistency assists in this.

The acting was outstanding as well. With fantasy films that have a niche following, it can be difficult to bring in outsiders who care and understand the world as much as the original creators do and the fans that have grown it. Yet Warcraft did a superb job of bringing in actors who would care just as much about the subject matter as the others involved. Ben Foster was perfectly cast as Medivh, slipping seamlessly into the role so that I hardly recognized him. Paula Patton was a beautifully tragic Garona, successfully splitting her character between two worlds. Considering most of the time the actors were talking to tennis balls and MOKAP suits, I’m pleased with how much depth each person was able to bring into their stories.

Why You Should Give it A Chance

The movie is fun. It’s a great beginning to, what I hope, will be a continuous adventure. Within a few minutes, I felt captivated to learn more, and by the end, all I wanted was for the story to continue.  I was never into Warcraft before, but now I have no choice but to continue to feed that new interest of mine. I want to know the stories of Lothar, Garona, and Khadgar.  I want to read the books, play the games, and see more stories on the big screen. And that, is the point of any new series: draw in new fans to love what so many others do already.

Catch the latest TV spot below and find out more at WarcraftMovie.com.

Do you agree with my assessment? Do you have other thoughts? Comment below or our on Facebook page!

In Defense of…Warcraft