Fairy tales are the new vampires. The stampede into fairyland has become rather crowded lately: dueling features have covered the legend of Snow White on television like “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time,” and on the big screen “Snow White and the Huntsman” vs. “Mirror, Mirror.” And if you’re feeling really generous, Asylum’s direct-to-video “Grimm’s Snow White.”
“Mirror, Mirror” is a Cliff Notes version of the original fairy tale. You know the drill: evil but beautiful stepmother turned queen, Snow White, a dashing prince, and a mirror. That’s about all director Tarsem Singh really remembers about Snow White and it’s all you need to know to enjoy this vehicle that stars Julia Roberts.
Julia Roberts is in this movie a lot. She’s the evil queen. The evil mirror reflection that lives in the mirror in a hut on a lake looks just like her (played by Lisa Roberts Gillan). Roberts preens, she sneers, she glares, she makes mutters possibly ad-libbed barbs, and despite taking up fifty percent of the movie’s screen time has remarkably little to do.
Oh right, the other characters. There’s Snow White (Lily Collins), so lovely and angelically lit that she seems more like a mannequin than a real person. Prince Andrew Alcott (Armie Hammer, is distinguished primarily by his ability to take off his shirt and act like a dog (literally and figuratively as he displays charming misogyny with several whacks to White’s rear during a sword fight).
The only characters of substance are manservant Brighton (Nathan Lane) and the racially diverse seven dwarves: Butcher (Martin Klebba), Chuck (Ronald Lee Clark), Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), Half Pint (Mark Povinelli), Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), and Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno). At least the dwarves get to walk around on stilts.
The plot lurches along with the usual beats. Boy meets dwarves, shirtless boy meets girl, girl meets dwarves, REVOLUTION! And then a Bollywood song.
Singh clearly had too much budget to work with – for reasons that are never explained, the evil queen has to walk through a mirror on one side and rise out of water on the other. Someone gets turned into a cockroach. But the bulk of the budget is reserved for the breathtaking sets, the gorgeous costumes, and Julia Roberts.
As a kid’s vehicle to pass a few hours, “Mirror, Mirror” is a pleasant confection. But as a movie of substance it’s pretty dull.
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