Mirror Mirror (DVD/Blu-Ray) – Dir. Tarsem Singh. Starring Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer.
Flat-feeling fairy tale film with style but no purpose.
Mirror Mirror isn’t so much an update to the Snow White story as it is an amalgam of folk tales. The Queen is now Snow White’s wicked stepmother. There’s a man-eating beast living in the forest. The seven dwarfs are now a band of thieves, and Snow White becomes their swashbuckling leader.
Julia Roberts is barely present as the Queen (and the Queen’s mirror self). She recites her lines as though she’s reading a speech at a fundraising gala for a cause she doesn’t really care about, like “Save the Blobfish.” She is frequently upstaged by her own costumes, as is the case with most of the non-dwarf actors.
Mirror Mirror sees itself as a version of Snow White with “attitude,” which means adding a lot of flash and no substance: self-aware jokes, overwrought special effects, and one very confusing Bollywood-style song and dance number. None of it treads enough new ground to justify this eleven billionth adaptation of the story.
The film broadcasts its intentions to be a modern and edgy fairy tale with its ironic, knowing tone, but the humor that might have made this work is spread too thin. Whatever jokes are present are feeble and sickly.
Just as tiring is the textbook way in which Snow White’s character is updated for modern audiences: as is typical with these politically correct makeovers, she is handed a weapon and set into action hero mode against the men. This might be better than the old standard of a passive heroine, but it’s no feminist triumph when our go-to method of empowering a girl is to simply make her act like a boy. There are better, less lazy ways.
Tarsem Singh makes a visually striking film, as usual, but he is nevertheless a director who specializes in the violent and the disturbing helming a wacky kids’ movie. Maybe that’s why Mirror Mirror feels so neutered.
Rated PG for Julia Roberts’ “annoyed” face.
2 out of 5