evil queen

Costume Couture: Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time has seen so many characters from the Disney Princess and fairy tale universe. We’ve seen live action versions of Cinderella, Belle, Captain Hook, and even our Frozen friends. This week, we talk about our favorite and least favorite costumes and styles from Once Upon a Time. We look at the princesses, villains, and sidekicks, hitting on as many characters as possible in a single episode.

Then, it’s our latest Cosplayer of the Week, Yellowbrick Road Cosplay! She’s known for a wide range of characters and specifically performs a lot of crossplay.

So, sit down, relax, and join us for some princesses, villains, and cosplay!

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Costume Couture: Once Upon a Time

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)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

The Huntsman, Winter’s War

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all? This week The Huntsman: Winter’s War reunites Charlize Theron along with Chris Hemsworth as Queen Ravenna and Eric the Huntsman respectively in the sequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Joining this already star studded cast is Emily Blunt as Freya, Ravenna’s little sister who eventually becomes known to others as The Ice Queen and trainer of the Huntsmen, and Jessica Chastain as fellow warrior and Huntsman who trains with Eric and is banished by Freya when she learns that Sara and Eric have fallen in love, the one rule the Ice Queen won’t have broken in her kingdom. This prequel/sequel is being helmed by director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and is being produced by Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) along with Colleen Atwood returning from the first film as head of costume design. Check out the official trailer, posters, and synopsis on The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and tell us what you think about this film. Are you planning on seeing it this weekend? The Huntsman: Winter’s War is in theaters around the country April 22nd.

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen—including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)—only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love. 

When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power. But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another. 

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The Huntsman: Winters War Eric and Sara

With the film set to hit theaters this weekend, are you making plans to check it out? Comment below with your thoughts!

The Huntsman, Winter’s War

Prepare for Last Lunar Chronicle

As the epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles has finally been released this week, we look back at books 2 and 3 to catch up with what Cinder and the gang have been through and where they are going.

If you missed our review of book 1, Cinder, check that out here.

Scarlet

Lunar Chronicles - Scarlet

As the name implies, Scarlet Benoit is a retelling of Red Riding Hood.  An 18 year old talented farm hand, Scarlet has been looking for her grandmother for two weeks.  Her ID chip was removed and left behind, a dangerous sign of kidnapping in this futuristic world.  Helping her to uncover the truth about her grandmother’s disappearance, is a mysterious stranger named Wolf.  The two of them form a shaky alliance, which is constantly put to the test.

Meanwhile, Cinder works to escape from the New Beijing prison, with devastating news about her unclear past.  She teams up with the dashing, arrogant thief Carswell Thorne and also is in pursuit of the missing Michelle Benoit.

When the inevitable collision of these two couples occurs, it suits both parties to join forces to uncover the truth about Scarlet’s grandmother, Wolf’s motives, and Queen Levana’s ultimate plan.

What Did I Think?

This book was my least favorite in the series, so far.  Scarlet is the least enjoyable character in the Lunar Chronicles, in my opinion.  Her impetuous attitude forces her to make some of the most irresponsible decisions.  It continually puts herself and the people she cares about in danger. That being said, the intensity of the stakes in this sequel are raised to an entertaining level.  You’re still able to predict the safety of the four main characters, but they’re no longer untouchable, as it seemed in Cinder.

Wolf is a very engaging character.  From the beginning, you know there’s more to him and you are anticipating when the rest of his back story will flow out.  Is he good? Is he bad? Is he faking his feelings for Scarlet?  He reminds me of Wolverine, only not as overrated… yet. And even if we only know her for a short time, Michelle Benoit is intriguing to say the least.

As for Scarlet, she isn’t completely hopeless.  Her character growth isn’t much in her own novel, but what she is put through in Cress has such a drastic effect on her that she will most likely be the character with the most amount of change by the time this series is over.  She’s strong and tough and she doesn’t put up with a lot of crap from others.  Even without any Lunar magic, she stands her ground against Levana’s forces.  That’s incredibly commendable.

Cress

Lunar Chronicles Cress

With Cinder and Scarlet being utter badasses, it’s easy to forget that not every woman is strong in the same way.  Cress is not a badass. She’s not a scrappy mechanic who relies on her common sense to pull her through.  She’s not a capable business owner tearing through Europe in the name of family.  She’s a self proclaimed damsel with the intelligence and talent to shut down any Earthen or Lunar internet network, security system, or communications line in less than a few minutes.  It’s why she’s been trapped in a satellite for seven years, forced to spy on the Earthen leaders for Levana and her Mistress Sybil. If you hadn’t been able to guess, Cress is an interpretation of Rapunzel.

We have actually seen Cress before.  She was in one scene in Cinder, communicating to our favorite cyborg that Prince Kai was in peril.  This small tidbit foreshadowed the inevitable trust that would build between Cress, Cinder, and the rest of the fairy tale misfits. While we gain Cress, we lose Scarlet during a battle against Sybil.  She’s taken hostage and given to a Lunar family as a pet, tortured by Queen Levana, and then regifted to Princess Winter, Levana’s stepdaughter.  Cress and Thorne are lost in the Sahara Desert, clinging to life as best they can since Thorne has been temporarily blinded and Cress hasn’t touched a planetary surface in years.  Wolf is mortally wounded and placed in the care of Dr. Erland.  Newcomer Jacin is aloof and rude.  Poor Cinder just can’t catch a break, even for a moment.  At least Iko the android gets the body she’s always wanted.

What Did I Think?

Cress brings some incredible moments and really forces the perspective of the reader.  A young heroine saving the corrupt world isn’t a new concept to youth directed media, but there are enough twists in this book to still make it a real page turner. Events are serious. Characters die (I won’t tell you who, but it’s a war, people). The predictable survival of the main characters isn’t as guaranteed as it has been.  Cress herself is an adorable character.  I’ll never understand the negative stigma recently placed on the archetype of damsel.  Aren’t we all out of our elements at times? Doesn’t everyone feel the need to be rescued once or twice? Cress plays an important role in the group’s dynamic despite feeling scared of the consequences.  She’s a kind of hero not often explored in this modern world of cut and dry feminism.

What to Expect From Winter

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This is the end.  Named for Princess Winter, an incarnation of Snow White, the fourth book will finally see the revolution Cinder has promised us since the beginning.  We’ve got four “princesses” and four “princes” all playing their parts in something much bigger than they could have dreamed. If nothing else, the finale will be entertaining above all else.

Putting aside the heavy reliance of coincidence (it’s such an easy plot when everyone is connected to everyone else already!) and the juvenile style of writing (even for a YA novel), the series is still thoroughly enjoyable.  I know that’s a little difficult to believe. It reads very similarly to a fan fiction, but fan fictions are fun.  And this series is fun.  It’s vivid imagery gives the readers an exact picture of what the author wanted.  With each paragraph you read, you’re more and more convinced this series would make incredible movies.  I’m looking forward to completing the series this week and wrapping what has been a satisfying retelling of my favorite childhood stories.

The finale of the Lunar Chronicles Winter is on sale now – Barnes and Noble

Have you been following the Lunar Chronicles? What are your thoughts on the series so far? What do you hope to read in the finale? Comment below!

Prepare for Last Lunar Chronicle