Wednesday, November 09, 2011

'Snow White & The Huntsman' vs 'Mirror Mirror'

In the throw-down between 'Mirror Mirror' and 'Snow White & The Huntsman' I'm giving the nod to the Kristen Stewart/Chris Hemsworth production. It's got more going for it on (almost) all fronts.

Today, we get a banner/poster for 'Snow White & The Huntsman' which looks pretty good:

This interplay between Hemsworth and Stewart is loaded with sexual tension and works well:

He leans forward, she both beckons and threatens. Her posture is more street than Disney-esque. Very modern. Walt could never have imagined such a rendition.

The petrified (if that's the right word) skeletal ghouls reaching out with tree limb claws has just the right feel, contemporary not hokey.

Compare that to this image from 'Mirror Mirror':

Lily Collins as Snow White, with the Seven Dwarfs. Okay, I know this is a more classical approach but it comes off as a throwback. (The color balance, certainly, is straight out of the 50s). Not sure anyone older than, say, twelve will be interested in this kind of thing.

There's also the fact that this is a live-action production whereas the original's animation was charming and easy to watch. Above look, especially (let's face it) the dwarfs, may be too in-your-face for very young kids. Presumably, the effect would only be boosted by the hyper-stylized super-visual approach of director Tarsem Singh, who creates garish eye-candy like 'The Cell', 'The Fall', and 'The Immortals'. Is that the look kids want to see? So, no kids older than twelve will care and no kids younger than twelve will be able to watch?

The same factors play into a comparison between the heavies. Here's Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen:

Fluffed up to be sure, brassy, maybe too much so. Very Disney-esque costuming, hair, etc. Again, however, seems more of a throwback than 'classic'. This look may have been better realized in an animated update rather than a live-action movie.

Let's look at Charlize Theron's take on the character:

Fairly evocative. Has an epic 'Lord of the Rings' tone. Mystical, dark. She's actually holding a weapon (a bit forward thinking for The Evil Queen -- very modern), and seems to be controlling the crows, sending them to spy on Snow White -- very cool. A much more contemporary vibe.

As far as drawing an audience goes 'Mirror Mirror' obviously holds an appeal to girls but not boys. In general, it looks dated and a bit hokey, even for kids, who mature a lot faster these days and are a lot more media savvy than the Marketing department may give them credit for, and may suffer from a visual style that's too intense (or odd) for the very people it's supposed to have been made for. I'm not thinking parents will be very enthusiastic about taking the kids to see this one, either. A bit poorly conceived.

On the other hand, Kristen Stewart couldn't be hotter coming off the Twilight series, (certainly a draw for younger guys [and girls]) while people really don't know who Lily Collins is (Snow White in 'Mirror Mirror'). If Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman slices and dices forest monsters (and he looks doubly prepared to do so in the poster) it'll be the kind of action guys (and girls) want to see and, coming off 'Thor', the guy has bullet-proof cred. Then, there's the combat/warfare (in Theron's part of the poster) -- guys love that stuff. Theron herself will appeal across the board to kids and adults.

Then there's the screenplays. 'Mirror Mirror' is written by Melissa Wallack, a first-timer, and Jason Keller, who did 'Machine Gun Preacher'. Okay, not bad, but doesn't do much for me. SW&TH is directed by Rupert Sanders, also a first-timer, and scripted by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, The Nutty Professor [video], The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning [video]) and Hossein Amini (Drive, 47 Ronin), which ain't bad. 'Drive', especially, has some very subtle story elements -- nicely written. This puts SW&TH in a different league.

The only weakness for SW&TH is the fact it's Rupert Sanders' first film. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In the end it's not so much a 'throw-down' as a happy coincidence these two fairy tales are coming out at the same time. Really, they don't look to have anything in common, target totally different audiences, and probably won't compete with each other.

So, until trailers roll out, it's looking like 'Snow White & The Huntsman' will appeal to a broad demographic, while 'Mirror Mirror' could be seen as something of a curiosity that may not do well in theaters but should play on family night TV/cable and as a Sunday afternoon rental.

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