“Mirror Mirror” Movie Review

    For a clunky hour and a half, I sat through the first of the two “Snow White” reboots  due out this year and truth be told it’s a flat out bore.  “Mirror Mirror” features several winks to the adult audience which will zing right over the head of kids, while having no sense of the enchantment necessary to keep the younger ones interested for the duration of the film’s running time.  I’m not sure where to begin on this, but I think several things went wrong from the start.  If you laugh at all, it’s because you’ve already seen the funny bits in the trailer and now you get to see them again.  Perhaps the pairing of director Tarsem Singh (“The Immortals”, “The Cell”) may be the biggest issue.  As you are treated to an endless array of oddball costumes and gloriously detailed sets, you know your in Singh’s world.  Unfortunately, the source material being a fairy tale just doesn’t match Singh’s visual style.

     In this version of the Brothers Grimm classic, Julia Roberts plays the Evil Queen and of all things her biggest problem is money.  She’s broke and is looking for a way to infuse riches back into her royal fortune.  Her King left long ago and never returned, leaving her to raise her step daughter Snow White, whom is now 18 and has never been allowed to leave the castle they live in.  The Queen spends her days playing chess with actual members of her court as the Pawns.  She is a vile and selfish woman who is more concerned with her looks than the starving people who live in the villages below the castle.  For her part, Julia Roberts hams it up and this is definitely her movie, but I think that turns out to be a mistake on the filmmaker’s part.  She’s the villain, but shouldn’t be the central character.  No matter what, we always feel like Snow White is in the background with everyone else while the Queen is jumping up and down yelling “Look at me!!”  Not that you could miss her anyway with those garish costumes.

     A Prince comes into the picture by accident.  Played by Arnie Hammer, he is on an adventure when a band of dwarfs ambush him and steal everything down to the clothes he’s wearing.  He’s eventually found by Snow White, who has left the castle for the first time without the Queen’s permission.  Once he is brought back to the castle, the Queen decides she will use magic to coerce him into marrying her.  When she gets wind of the fact the Prince has eyes for Snow White, she coldly orders her henchmen to kill Snow White.

     Everyone recalls the classic moment this film’s title refers to.  The Evil Queen asking the question “Mirror Mirror on the wall...who is the fairest of them all?”  Strangely enough, in Singh’s concoction, the Queen is transported to a Tiki hut in the middle of the ocean.  Kind of looks like those cool French Polynesian resort rooms seen in the film “Couples Retreat”.  Again, stay with me here.  She walks through the mirror and arrives via the ocean and goes into this Tiki hut, sits down, and has a conversation with another mirror which has a reflection of herself talking to her and advising her.  There are a number of these scenes in the film and each one ruins the pace as we are constantly darting from subplots in the forrest, the castle, the village, and back to the Tiki hut.

     For what I suppose is intended to serve as the film’s comic relief, we do get the seven dwarfs who befriend Snow White when she is sent to the forrest to be killed.  This Snow White character, played by Lily Collins, is depicted as an 18 year old who can definitely take care of herself.  With just a few lessons from the dwarfs, she becomes an expert in sword play and doesn’t appear to need the help of any man, much less the Prince, in order to get the job done.  Talk about a modern retelling.  She’s also a boring character and is given nothing interesting to say.  Bottom line is Singh’s creative style makes no sense with this material, but perhaps the real blame should go to Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller’s all over the place screenplay.  The Prince they have written is anything but charming.  Snow White is as bland as her skin and the Queen is reduced to nothing more than a bunch of cheesy one liners meant to wink at the adult audience (“They’re not wrinkles...they’re crinkles.”).  The film really has no idea what it wants to be, but it is neither magical or memorable and likely is something better forgotten.  It’s all up to “SWATH” now. GRADE: D-