The Artist (2011) PICK
Mirror Mirror (2012) PICK
Wrath of the Titans (2012) PASS
New on home video, the year’s first live-action Snow White movie may not have made the box-office impact of Snow White and the Huntsman, but, for my money, Mirror Mirror is the fairer of the two — certainly to look at. A breathtakingly fanciful Fabergé egg of a movie, Mirror Mirror is bursting with color and beauty and inspiration from the mind of visual wizard Tarsem Singh.
Storywise, neither movie is any masterpiece, nor is either a traditional fairy tale — though at least Mirror Mirror feels like a fairy tale and not a Lord of the Rings-style epic myth. It’s also more family-friendly, though occasional risqué humor limits the appeal for younger viewers.
Lily Collins makes a winsome Snow White, and her romance with Armie Hammer’s Prince is sweet and innocent. Snow’s a genuinely admirable hero less concerned for her own plight than with her subjects under Julia Roberts’ evil Queen. And while the Prince is a somewhat silly figure of fun, he retains some dignity, and the film avoids the aggrieved feminism of the likes of Alice in Wonderland.
Academy Award “Best Picture” winner The Artist is also new on home video. Though somewhat overrated and definitely not up to the Oscar hype, French director Michel Hazanavicius’ lovingly made homage to silent-era Hollywood faithfully re-creates (or nearly so) the look and feel of a black-and-white film circa 1927, just as Hollywood was discovering sound.
Jean Dujardin channels Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Gene Kelly as a silent-era heartthrob who struggles to adjust to the new era of sound. Bérénice Bejo is winsome as the flapper ingénue who comes to outshine him. Yes, it’s Singin’ in the Rain and A Star Is Born at the same time — and while the downbeat second half drags, on balance it’s a mostly charming film.
Finally, steer clear of Wrath of the Titans, a dreary sequel to the unremarkable Clash of the Titans remake. Along with boring characters, a drab palette, a boneheaded story and an almost complete lack of any notable images or visual interest, it also perpetuates the anti-religious theme of its predecessor.
Characters constantly warn one another not to pray, and Liam Neeson’s Zeus declares that mankind is outgrowing its need for a higher power: “There will be no more gods, no more sacrifice.” Funny, I’m pretty sure the twilight of the gods was followed by a new day of faith in the light of a rising Son.
Content Advisory: The Artist: Brief mildly suggestive content; a failed marriage and romantic complications; alcohol abuse; suicide theme. Teens and up. Mirror Mirror: Some mildly frightening moments and action violence; mild rude humor and a sequence of gross-out humor; depictions of theft. Might be okay for tweens and up.