Genres: Romance, Fantasy, Adaptation, Action/Adventure, Comedy Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes Release Date: March 30, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG (for for some fantasy action and mild rude humor) Distributor: Relativity Media Distribution Group
Cast And Credits
Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Sean Bean, Nathan Lane /td>
Brett Ratner, Ryan Kavanaugh, Bernie Goldmann
Is it possible for filmmakers to still peddle the old â€œonce upon a timeâ€ in the age of Katniss Everdeen, the ferocious teenage warrior from â€œThe Hunger Gamesâ€? The answer, from the evidence of Tarsem Singhâ€™s â€œMirror Mirror,â€ a would-be comic and cheeky redo of Snow White, is yes, but not persuasively. The princess (Lily Collins) here smiles obligingly while flouncing about in a gown, but she also helps write her own happily ever after with a sword. Whether that makes her a feminist heroine or just another self-actualized Disneyesque waif may depend on your idea of empowerment. (In June the fairy tale gets another makeover in â€œSnow White and the Huntsman.â€)
Written by, among others, the Brothers Grimm and waggishly retrofitted for â€œMirror Mirrorâ€ by Marc Klein and Jason Keller, the essential story is as you probably remember it, only with jokes: a widower King remarries, giving the realm a new Queen (Julia Roberts, seemingly very self-amused), and his only child, Snow White, a mother. But when the King disappears, a turn thatâ€™s represented in the film by a striking animated sequence, Snow White falls into the grasping hands of the Queen, who turns out to be a pathological narcissist suffering from possible delusions. (She talks to her mirror.) You know the rest â€" seven dwarfs, a prince, a girlâ€™s youth, a womanâ€™s vanity â€" all familiar pieces that are both this movieâ€™s strength and its gravest flaws.
Mr. Singh started out directing music videos. The short form suits him. â€œMirror Mirrorâ€ runs a long 95 minutes, but itâ€™s a virtual breeze when compared with his previous movie, â€œImmortals,â€ a camp farrago set in ancient Greece (by way of a Vegas floor show), that runs an enervating 110 minutes. Critics like to take note of Mr. Singhâ€™s eye-catching visuals, and thereâ€™s no doubt he knows how to swank up performers and sets or rather hire talented professionals to do the job for him. The costumes in â€œMirror Mirrorâ€ â€" by turns ethereal as a dream and as ponderous as sculptured marble â€" were created by Mr. Singhâ€™s regular collaborator, the Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka. (Ms. Ishioka, who also designed the costumes for Francis Ford Coppolaâ€™s â€œDracula,â€ died in January.)
Yet while Mr. Singh knows how to make performers and sets look good, he has trouble putting them into vibrant, kinetic, meaningful play, which effectively means that heâ€™s a better window dresser than a movie director. â€œMirror Mirrorâ€ is consistently watchable, even when it drifts into dullness because Mr. Singh always gives you something to look at, whether itâ€™s the Queenâ€™s blood-red gown, the sailing clouds decorating her bedroom or the dwarfsâ€™ woodland home. Everything looks as if it has been meticulously selected for this or that spot, including the performers. Ms. Roberts, Ms. Collins and Armie Hammer, as Prince Alcott, look as pretty as fairy-book illustrations, but their performances are similarly one dimensional, as if they had been art directed into place instead of cut loose.
The only lead performer to wiggle free of Mr. Singhâ€™s heavy hand is Nathan Lane, who plays the Queenâ€™s henchman, Brighton, and whose amusingly tremulous, cagey performance owes much to Bob Hope. Mr. Lane is the only performer who sounds comfortable delivering Mr. Klein and Mr. Kellerâ€™s often intentionally anachronistic dialogue, which, with its forced lightness and scattershot jokes, makes an awkward fit with Mr. Singhâ€™s lugubriousness. All of the scripted yuks register as an attempt to modernize the movie, as does affording Snow the chance to play a role in her own rescue, mostly by giving her a sword and putting her in palazzo pants. Thatâ€™s nice, even if in the end it comes down to the same old story of love, glory and the devastating cost of female wrinkles.