“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, what’s the most uneven movie in 2012 of them all?”
If 2012 wasn’t being billed as the Year of the Superhero, it might just be dubbed the Year of Snow White. Two big budget films based on the story by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 are hitting theatre screens this year with Mirror Mirror out now and Snow White and the Huntsman due out later this year.
Mirror Mirror was first out of the gate and stars Julia Roberts as the evil Queen who out of jealousy and contempt, exiles her own step-daughter Snow White (played by Lily Collins) from the castle in an attempt to assert control over the kingdom from its natural heir. While in banishment, Snow White encounters 7 dwarfs straight out of Time Bandits and a friendship is formed – one that will assist Miss White in reclaiming her kingdom.
Complicating the story is the presence of a Prince (played by The Social Network’s Arnie Hammer) who happens upon the Queen’s kingdom right at the time when the Queen is desperate to marry and replenish her riches that have been squandered on lavish costumes and even more sumptuous parties.
You will not have to be versed on the Disney cartoon that made Snow White famous to realize that this is a Hollywood film and good will triumph over evil, Snow White will find true love and everyone (well, the Queen notwithstanding) will live happily, ever after.
Mirror Mirror was directed by Tarsem Singh whose three films, The Cell, The Fall and Immortals are all incredibly stylish potpourri’s of visual extravagance. This is Singh’s first crack at a film that was never expected to garnish an R-Rating and the results can be described simply as ‘uneven’ at best. It was like watching a Terry Gilliam film who used a Tim Burton production team to create a Cirque du Soleil adventure. Yeah, I know!
The costumes were fantastic and might see themselves with an Academy Award nomination by year’s end. And the some of the effects which included the Queen surfacing from a watery expanse to visit the mirror that gives her the future’s insight are outstanding. It was definitely a different take from any Snow White adaptation we have seen before and we’ll go as far as to call these scenes ‘inspiring’.
But outside of the film’s style, Mirror Mirror missed its mark and became almost cringe worthy towards the final reels. Although Singh would be the easy fall guy for the film’s failure, we look also to the screenplay by Jason Keller (Machine Gun Preacher) and the choice of casting of young Lily Collins (Phil Collins’ daughter for those keeping track).
The story went off the rails towards childville and the ridiculousness of the situations left us feeling uneasy in our chairs. A scene where Arnie Hammer’s Prince drinks a potion called ‘Puppy Love’ and basically turns into a human dog was unbearably embarrassing. And although this may have fit perfectly into a G-Rated film, contrasting scenes of the Queen using bird poop as beauty aid and the Queen’s aid (played by Nathan Lane) being assigned to kill Snow White returning with a bag that is suggested to contain her chopped up body is literally out of place in this uneven mess.
Collin’s Snow is also a bit of a letdown. She has little if no chemistry with either the Prince or the dwarfs to which she spends most of the film. No denying Collins is cute to look at, but after some early gawking, adults will realize there isn’t much behind the enchanted eyes.
Julia Roberts comes out of the experience unscathed. But not so much Arnie Hammer who has scenes that could have been inserted into the new Three Stooges film without much forward set-up is a different story. Hammer is coming off The Social Network and Edgar and has been nominated and applauded as a new up-and-comer. In the game of Snakes and Ladders in Hollywood, Mirror Mirror is Hammer’s snake.
Those that are bringing the kiddies to the film should be made aware that it is not a direct adaptation of the Disney classic. The dwarf’s don’t have names such as Sneezy, Dopey and Doc. Instead, they are named Grubb, Wolf and Chuckles. And they don’t sing Hi-Ho or work as miners. Instead, they are thieves who attack unsuspecting travellers on a desolate forest path.
Mirror Mirror therefore fails to get the jump on its sister, Snow White and the Huntsman due out in June. And considering the talent involved in Mirror Mirror, that is a shame and one that the mirror should have seen coming.