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Mirror Mirror

A movie directed by Tarsem Singh

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One of the more pleasant surprises of this year; an elaborate and creative fantasy.

  • Aug 17, 2012
*** out of ****

"Mirror Mirror" is a simplistic, flawed screenplay saved by an abundance of good choices. For starters, Tarsem Singh (known professionally only as Tarsem) - the man behind such visual treats as "The Fall" and "The Cell" - is the director, and since he has a natural gift for lavish visuals that border on the surreal, putting him at the helm of a Snow White re-imagining was a good decision. Secondly, Tarsem seems to have made damn well sure that he got the best of the best when it came to the individuals responsible for bringing his vision to the screen. After his last foray into the mainstream, the visually impressive but lame "Immortals", I was getting a bit worried as to just how well Tarsem was making it thus far in Hollywood; but he's once again found his true calling, and that is telling the story completely through his intoxicating visual style.

But in a sense, the simplistic storytelling methods allow the film to be the way it is. "Mirror Mirror" begins with a voice-over by the Queen (Julia Roberts), who provides us with her own very funny commentary on the origin story of Snow White (Lily Collins), whose mother died giving birth to her, with her father being killed by the beast that resides in the woods not far from the kingdom when she was just a young girl. Snow White was left to be raised by the Queen, who clearly isn't very good with kids, and kept her locked up in her room for most of her life while she selfishly took money from the less fortunate nearby villages to fund her expensive parties. One day, Snow White is inspired to go out and check on how the villages are doing when the kingdom's cook tells her that there is indeed life outside her fancy prison.

While in the same woods into which her father disappeared all those years ago, Snow White meets Prince Andrew (Arnie Hammer), who along with his companion was just assaulted by the thieving Seven Dwarves. When Andrew goes to the kingdom to report the incident, the Queen is instantly smitten and insists that he stay in her company. On the other hand, Snow White is banished to the woods, where the Queen has ordered one of her loyal servants (Nathan Lane) to dispatch of the girl, although he doesn't have the heart. Snow White eventually encounters the dwarves (played by Danny Woodburn, Martin Klebba, Sebastian Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, and Ronald Lee Clark), who agree to take her in and train her to swordfight and to steal so that she may take back her kingdom and save the prince from the Queen's artificial seductions.

People will probably react to it differently, and it might indeed depend on your admiration for the Grimm fairy tale that inspired it, but I feel that the world that the story exists in is very well realized, perhaps more-so than the story itself, which isn't exactly richly layered, although not exactly painfully derivative either. What's important here is the scrumptious visual feast that is on display. The CGI landscapes are absolutely gorgeous, and the practical sets are even better off. The kingdom is as colorful as can be; and virtually every room - or set - is ridiculously elaborate in its own way. As if that weren't enough, the film has a very quirky sense of humor and surrealism that takes even the most visually beautiful scenes to the next level. For instance, the "treatment" scene is one of the most imaginative things I've seen all year; and Nathan Lane even gets turned into a cockroach! Julie Roberts, meanwhile, as the evil queen, has pitch-perfect comic timing. The thing on a whole is very well-cast.

Tarsem is right in saying that the people advertising this film should be fired immediately. The trailers made it out to be one of the worst films of the year, and yet it's anything but. Indeed, a lot of people are probably going to hate it regardless of it not being half as goofy as the trailers suggest (although still pretty goofy in some regards, but to an extent). I liked it for the trippy visual effects, the outstanding costumes, and Tarsem's overall commitment to making the project as highly enjoyable as it is. One of the reasons why I go to the movies is to be moved by the images alone, since they can evoke so much. I can't say that the images in "Mirror Mirror" are particularly "moving", but they are pretty darn stunning, I'll give them that. I'm just glad to see Tarsem back on track after that one mighty mishap. If you enjoy the way that he makes movies - style over substance, or perhaps style as substance - then you're likely to enjoy this one too. It re-tells the Snow White story, which has been more than worn out a long time ago, with enough wit, humor, and creativity to get by as satisfying - if not somewhat disposable - entertainment.

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More Mirror Mirror reviews
review by . March 30, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, is this movie any good at all?
MIRROR MIRROR Written by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller Directed by Tarsem Singh Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer   The Queen: Snow must do what snow does best - fall.   The story of “Snow White” is one of the most beloved of all time. The Brothers Grimm fairy tale, in which a beautiful, young princess becomes the focus of envy of an evil Queen, and is cast out of her kingdom, has not only endured for centuries, but has also heavily influenced …
review by . March 30, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Mirror Mirror' 'Two Jews On Film' Only One Is Happily Ever After, Almost (Video)
            By Joan Alperin Schwartz   Mirror, mirror on the wall...Who's the fairest Of Us All?      The answer to that question, is definitely Miss Julia Roberts, who plays Snow White's (Lily Collins) evil stepmother/queen, in director Tarsem Singh's new film, 'Mirror Mirror'.    Ms Roberts absolutely nails the part.       In fact, she is the only reason, …
review by . March 31, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Mirror Mirror reinterprets the Snow White legend as a whimsical, lighthearted comedy appropriate for the whole family. Some will inevitably be turned off by this approach, but I found it to be quite pleasant and entertaining. It certainly is easy on the eyes; directed by Tarsem Singh, known for his beautifully offbeat visuals, the film is a triumph of art direction, set decoration, and costume design. The latter is especially prominent. All of the …
Quick Tip by . September 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Fun with good scripting and casting. This is what a fairy tale ought to be, with a touch of "ballroom" as well as an update to today's world of entertainment. Enjoy it even though I watched it through an iPad app for free!
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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