Friday, March 30, 2012

Julia Roberts' MIRROR MIRROR

Carole Mallory
Actress; Journalist; Flim Critic , malloryhollywoodeast,
Julia Roberts' Mirror Mirror
 Huffington Post

Bravo to Julia Roberts for showing that she is a good sport by playing the role of the evil Queen. A stunning Roberts says to her reflection in the mirror which replies, "I'm a mere reflection of you, but I have no wrinkles.
This film is fun, but it should have been funny.
 Mirror Mirror misses in spots then resumes its wit which makes laughter a rocky road, but a better script was sorely needed. The director, Tarsem Singh, is Indian and is known for his music videos such as REM'Losing my Religion for which he won video of the year and the visually striking film, The Cell. Mirror Mirror's closing credits have a delightful Bollywood dance that if you miss it you will miss the charm that this director intended for this film. 
Julia Roberts said an emphatic," No!", to this script by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller based on the Grimm fairy tale then met the handsome director Singh who had attended Harvard and changed her mind. Singh had a good agent. Roberts must have seen the problems in the script. She should have trusted her instincts.
The opening scene is not good as drawings are used instead of actors in an attempt to begin a film mixed with a cartoon element. This does not work. Simple as that. Throughout the film the art direction becomes a kind of character in itself as it is highly creative save this opening sequence.
What works is Snow White who is played by the stunning Lily Collins who looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor. Collins dominates the film when Roberts is not around. With thick black brows that almost form a line across her forehead, one is reminded of Taylor in
 National Velvet. Her beauty is astounding.
Originally the director wanted
 Mirror Mirror to be called "Snow" which made sense. Snow who is an exiled Princess has had her throne stolen from her by the evil Queen who has put a spell on Snow's father, the King, played by a distinguished Sean Bean.
While walking in the forest Snow discovers handsome Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) hanging upside down from a tree as seven thieving dwarfs on stilts have stolen his gold. The dwarfs are played with skill and vitality and are a delight. Snow cuts him down with her sword. Because she has sneaked out of the castle and is afraid of the Queen's wrath, Snow runs away when she sees the Queen's henchmen approaching.
Prince Alcott is taken to the Queen who falls in need for his wealth and virility. As Roberts stares at Prince Alcott's bare chest, she addresses Brighton (Nathan Lane) who heads her Court, "Please get this man to put his shirt on?" Lane is champion in his role of the Queen's lackey.
The Queen plans to give a ball for her new discovery to entice him to be her husband. Snow meets our handsome Prince Alcott at this ball and dances with him as they fall in love. The jealous Queen orders Snow murdered by Brighton.
When Brighten tells the Queen that he has succeeded in her request, the Queen declares to the Court, "Snow White is dead. There will be a buffet at 2." The rest of this film you must see for yourself. But if you do, please stay for the Bollywood credits that will make up for some laughs lost by a script that tries too hard to be hip and falls flat because of this. Still children will be enthralled as there was applause at the end of the
 Mirror Mirror screening I attended, but none from me.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Wrath of the Titans

Carole Mallory


Whose Wrath? The Wrath of the Titans

A two-headed monster breathing fire is the first monster to greet you in 3D. A terrifying beginning to Wrath of the Titans, sequel to Clash of the Titans as this dragon- like monster plunders a town only to be outwitted by Sam Worthington who plays Perseus in grand style. A few stabs with a magical knife as Perseus jumps on one of this monster's heads and kills him only after 10 minutes into this film. Special effects are splendid as is this story, straight out of Greek mythology. What better motivation for screenwriters David Johnson and Dan Mazeau than the Greeks, and what a tour de force this film is for action aficionados.
Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles ) keeps the drama intense, which seems an impossibility considering the opening of the film, but the ending is a crash and burn drama of great magnitude as Kronos, the youngest of the Titans and god of time, rears his evil head to threaten destruction of the universe.
The film begins a decade after Perseus's defeat of the monstrous Kraken; he is attempting to live a quiet life in a fishing village where he is raising his 10-year-old son Helius (John Bell). But the gods will not allow Perseus his well deserved peace. He must battle a band of Cyclops and eventually fight flaming four-armed warriors with two torsos.
Liam Neeson, a perfect Zeus, is captured by his evil son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to be banished to the evils of the underworld.
"Our people have stopped praying and we have lost our power," Zeus laments. Perseus mounts his savior Pegasus and flies to enlist the help of warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) whose hairdresser should get star billing, as during the near destruction of the universe, her ringlets remain tack. (A little mud in her hair would have brought this production back down to earth.)
Poseidon's demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) and fallen God Hephaestus played with panache, verve, and wit by Bill Nighy unite to rescue Zeus from the cavernous underworld. Flying horse Pegasus makes a bad landing and Perseus falls off of him which lends humor to Pegasus's undisputed godly powers.
But Hades and Ares have made a deal with the imprisoned Titans, led by Kronos, and captured their father Zeus. The Titans strength increases as they drain Zeus of his power. As Hades tortures Zeus, he says to him with disgust, "You're sweating like a human. Next it will be tears."
Perseus must save the day and the universe from the evils of the Titans of the underworld led by Kronos. Can a demigod triumph over a Titan? See this film and find out. Amidst all its terror, Wrath of the Titans is fun and a good watch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hunger Games
Carole Mallory


Review: Are The Poor Ready for The Hunger Games?

Posted: 05/ 9/2005 3:00 am

Rich, Poor, Republican, Democrat. What could happen to our world if we don't address poverty? TheHunger Games is fiction. Yes. Or maybe not. Do we have blinders on to the acute need for wealth to be redistributed? Are we choking our families and leaving our children to have to face up to a bleak future? Will Capitalism triumph over poverty and destroy us all?
The Hunger Games is about children left to fight for their lives in a post apocalyptic dystopian world. As ghetto children do today. We just don't talk much about them much less make movies about them.
Writer of this trilogy Suzanne Collins is the true star of this film. She wrote the novel, co- produced it and co-wrote the screenplay that is directed by Gary Ross. Ross also co-wrote the screenplay along with Billy Ray. Control was kept by this creative team and a winner was produced perhaps in part because of this micromanagement. Collins idea came from watching the Iraq War and its shock and awe campaign on TV and then switching to a reality show. She put both emotional experiences together, wrote a novel and voila The Hunger Games. Collins also lost her father in Vietnam.
The Hunger Games is set in the future. There has been an uprising, a World War of sorts, and the working class lost to the Capitol and its wealthy inhabitants.
The remaining dystopian society is divided into twelve districts and once a year the Capital conducts games. Teenage boys and girls from each district must fight for their lives on national television. (Shades of The Running Man ?)
Contestants are referred to as Tributes. This bloodbath is a metaphor for what we have coming into our homes nightly in the form of reality TV. Viewers enjoy watching these train wrecks because they make them feel better about themselves.
Katness Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has volunteered to play in these games because her younger sister's name was selected in the lottery. To protect her sister, Katness insists that she go to the Capitol instead. The Capitol is portrayed in all of it futuristic splendor and is reminiscent of the ancient customs and mores of Rome with all of its splendor and self-indulgence. Costumes are over the top. Every extra is coiffed and powdered in shades of red and blue face powder along with blue lipstick and sport butterfly motif false eye lashes while gigantic hair pieces adorn all.
Jennifer Lawrence is refreshing, a heavy duty talent and carries this film like an Olympic champion going for the gold. She pole vaults over all of the men with the grace of a new born star. To win the game and to stay alive, her love interest becomes Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), but her true love is Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hamsworth) who remains in the 12th district while she battles for her life and for enough food for a year to feed her poverty stricken district, reminiscent of a coal mining town in Appalachia. Hawthorne and other townsfolk watch Katness try to overcome terror on a series of jumbotrons in the town's square as do citizens of the Capitol who watch on giant TV screens in every nook and cranny. Novelist Collins was also motivated by ancient Rome, its gladiators and its coliseum.
With blue hair Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) is both sinister and amusing as the MC for the games, and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) plays the self-indulgent Marie Antoinette-type-hostess of the Capitol. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) gives one of his driving performances, never once delivering a false moment and plays a sponsor who aids the Tributes while in battle. Overseeing all is President Snow played by Donald Sutherland with condescending aplumb.
At a press screening the audience applauded in spots and at the end which, of course, is a set up for a sequel.
Harry Potter. Bye. Bye. Hello, Katness Aberdeen. Are you ready for this media onslaught? Get a big bag of popcorn and pig out because The Hunger Games--that transcends all generations--is long and well worth every morsel.