Mirror Mirror (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Mirror Mirror</strong> (2012)

(On-demand, August 2012) What a strange film this is. Playing off the elements of the Snow White fairytale, it teeters between fantasy archetypes subversion, camp humor, beautiful visuals and oddly stilted locations.  In the hands of director Tarsem Singh, Mirror Mirror is, at the very least, beautiful to look at: Nearly every frame looks polished to perfection, and imaginative visuals are featured throughout.  There is some inventive costuming, the actors all seem to have some fun (Armie Hammer’s take on puppy-love is hilarious, while Julia Roberts seems to relish the antagonist role) and some of the funny moments are, in fact, pretty funny.  Unfortunately, the flashes of cleverness and humor are intermittent: the script seems to lurch from one mode to another without coherency, and the humor seems sprinkled randomly rather than coming from a unified approach.  (As it is, a significant portion of the gags embarrassingly fall flat.)  Mirror Mirror remains amiable throughout, but it seems to be trying a lot of things without understanding how they fit together.  For a big-budget film, it does seem to take place in a mere handful of locations.  The inclusion of modern idiom and hipper-than-thou cynicism seem particularly out of place in a fantasy setting.  Thematically, I’m not sure that the stated feminist ideals of the film are actually upheld, especially once the antagonist seems dispatched with a superfluous amount of cruelty.  Mirror Mirror’s lack of tonal unity makes it hard to really get into the groove of the film, and easier to notice its flaws.  There have been plenty of similar and far more successful takes on such material (Enchanted springs to mind) and what sets them apart is cohesion, not scattered cleverness.  [September 2012 Update: This review is a bit too harsh.  At least Mirror Mirror is better than Snow White and the Huntsman.]

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