'Mirror Mirror' a vanity case 

click to enlarge Charming: Julia Roberts, as the evil queen, and Armie Hammer, as the prince are delightful in the uneven “Mirror Mirror,” based on the Snow White fairy tale. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Charming: Julia Roberts, as the evil queen, and Armie Hammer, as the prince are delightful in the uneven “Mirror Mirror,” based on the Snow White fairy tale.

What was the point of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm’s 1812 Snow White fairy tale? Possibly to teach kids "don't be vain" and "don't open the door to strangers."

What is the point of Tarsem Singh's new movie "Mirror Mirror"? Probably something along the lines of "ooh... pretty!"

"Mirror Mirror" is fun, at least in its first half.

Julia Roberts is top-billed as the wicked queen, who enters her magic mirror and transports to a weird hut in the ocean, where she converses with her reflection.

She keeps her stepdaughter Snow White locked away while she cruelly rules peasants, taxing them to finance lavish parties.

A radiant Lily Collins plays Snow, who unlike previous depictions of the character, is resourceful and tough as well as pretty.

Taken to the woods and left for dead, she finds her seven dwarfs, played by great little people character actors, including Martin Klebba, recently in "Project X." Instead of making her a housekeeper, the dwarves train her to fight.

Armie Hammer ("The Social Network") plays the handsome, but also funny and dashing, prince. He's such a catch, even the queen wants to marry him.

With big shoes to fill – Disney's darkly sweet animated "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) has become the standard version of this story – the charming cast keeps the proceedings light.

Also nice: "Mirror Mirror" makes a strong attempt to improve on a formerly passive title character.

Still, Singh, famous for directing music videos and creating striking and glitzy shots, is not particularly good at moving the tale forward. As the movie progresses, the storytelling flattens. A computer-generated monster loose in the woods and a few big showdowns are dull compared to the simpler, cheerful character interactions early in the film.

Still, it's a bright, upbeat package. Another new Snow White movie, "Snow White and the Huntsman," slated for summer release, looks like it will be muddier, more serious and have more special effects.

It seems though filmmakers behind both movies forgot the Grimms' lesson about vanity.


Mirror Mirror ★★½

Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer
Written by Melissa Wallack, Jason Keller
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Rated PG
Running time 1 hour, 46 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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