Review by Nathan Samdahl (D)
Hooray! Finally the Snow White adaptation that we've all been excited for has arrived. Slick visuals, Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart look great….oh wait - that's Snow White and the Huntsman, which comes out this summer. Instead, this is the Relativity version that had been jockeying for release schedule supremacy with its counterpart to ensure it reached audiences first. There's a reason for that.
Mirror Mirror is sadly about as bad as its trailers made it look. Despite very low expectations, I found myself struggling to keep my focus and even stay awake throughout this tiring revisionist take of the classic tale.
The film suffers from many drawbacks, chief of which being its script. Mirror Mirror does venture away or put twists on many of the story's best known elements (including the queen's mirror, the poisoned apple, the dwarfs). However, the story remains incredibly predictable - not only do you know exactly where the main story is heading, but the individual scenes offer no surprises either. Even the film's climatic fight sequence, which yields the story's biggest "twist", feels bland and familiar.
What is perhaps most upsetting about Mirror Mirror is the cast. Not that it's bad, but rather that it's an excellent Snow White cast… who are given so very little to work with. Lily Collins and Armie Hammer are perfectly charming, the seven dwarfs (played here by actual midgets) are endearing and even Julia Roberts is a successfully wicked queen. Each scene, though, felt like a real struggle for these actors - their attempts to infuse life into and find genuine moments for their characters thwarted at every step.
This holds true, too, for director Tarsem Singh (the incredibly talented filmmaker behind The Cell, The Fall and Immortals). While the bright, colorful and grandiose production design and costumes clearly had the Tarsem stamp, the script again seemed to nullify much of his directing style. To compensate, sequences were added, such as when the dwarves' home gets rampaged by marionette dolls remotely controlled by the Queen, that certainly are unique to this version, but do little to progress the story. Tarsem's better judgment also got the best of him when he added insult to injury by having the cast sing a Bollywood-type song over the end credits. It just did not work. Sean Bean's look of shock during the sequence says it all.
Two main ways you can tell Mirror Mirror did not turn out as intended: the children in the audience barely laughed and even more telling, all of the production company credits arrived in the middle of the end credits. You know it's bad when the producers hope everyone leaves before their names appear on screen. With a much stronger script, Tarsem could have made this version something, but as is, we must now rely on Snow White and the Huntsman to make us forget this one quickly.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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