REVIEW: Suffering from an identity crisis, 'Mirror, Mirror' is a magical mistake
Not even a magical kiss can break the curse of the wicked “Mirror Mirror.” Kids may gawk at the beautiful visuals director Tarsem Singh has created for this mosh-posh of the classic fairy tale, but like the witch’s juicy red apple, the inside is rotten through and through.
Like all of Tarsem’s (“The Fall,” “Immortals”) films, “Mirror Mirror” is visually stunning. The costumes and set design are sumptuous eye candy. It's clear that a great deal of effort went into the look of the film, from the Queen’s extravagant gowns to the magical landscape of the kingdom to the ornate layout of the castle.
But all the effort that went to style is for naught.
The Grimm brothers are the hottest writing duo in Hollywood right now with ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” and NBC’s “Grimm” plus the upcoming film “Snow White and the Huntsman,” but “Mirror Mirror” has done a colossal disservice to the brothers with a wretched screenplay. The story is a mess. It tries to appeal to young kids and adults alike but pulls itself apart in its attempt to run in every direction. The dialogue creates more eye-rolls than smiles. The verbal jokes are too mature for children and far too lame for adults. There are absurd sight gags aplenty -- the majority of them unnecessary, distracting and unfunny.
It tries so hard to be a comedy but the writing consistently falls flat. It also wants to be a unique fairy tale by modernizing the characters’ attitudes and making the classic tropes ‘hip’ but loses sight of its goal. The characters run amok from start to finish without any sensible direction.
Pretty young Lily Collins – a near-spitting image of Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday" – is our Snow White. Unfortunately, she is out-staged by every other character in the film. Poor Snow almost becomes background scenery since every chance she gets to speak she is interrupted by some terrible quip by one of the not-so-adorable seven dwarves or Julia Roberts' awkwardly-cast evil Queen.. Collins is a promising newcomer and hopefully she’ll move on to better projects.
Roberts as the evil Queen is more of a diva with a sour-puss, pouting about not getting her way rather than an evil sorceress. Roberts attempts to add depth to a flat character but the actress is not well-suited to play fantastical, larger than life roles.
Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) is the only actor in the film who seems to grasp the material. He is storybook charming and doesn’t appear to take this all too seriously.
The most memorable part of the film, and possibly its saving grace, is a big cast-led Bollywood musical number by veteran Disney composer Alan Menken. Why it's even in the film is unclear, but that is a question that will dominate your mind about several scenes in the film.
Bottom line: “Mirror Mirror” is a hot mess. But at least it’s pretty to look at.