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'Mirror Mirror' Early Review and Round-Up: Leave Princess Fairy Tales to Disney

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 29, 2012 at 4:29PM

"Mirror Mirror" means a lot to producer/distributor Relativity Media, which needs hits in order to survive. That's why the $60-million PG flick is aimed so squarely at a mainstream family audience. Visually, it looks like a movie directed by Tarsem Singh ("The Immortals"), but it doesn't feel like one. The movie will play young. Very young.
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Mirror Mirror, Snow White & Dwarves

"Mirror Mirror" means a lot to producer/distributor Relativity Media, which needs hits in order to survive. That's why the $60-million PG flick is aimed so squarely at a mainstream family audience. Visually, it looks like a movie directed by Tarsem Singh ("The Immortals"), but it doesn't feel like one. The movie will play young. Very young.

For one thing, Singh is relying on an all-too familiar Grimm fairy tale (reworked by Marc Klein and Jason Keller), which is at best fitfully amusing, thanks to Julia Roberts (who literally has bee-sting lips), Nathan Lane and the Seven Dwarfs, and most of the time, makes you wish you were watching "Tangled" instead. This princess stuff is Disney turf. No one does it better.

While the producers did hire Disney composer Alan Menken to write the score, it's uninspired and treacly. This is yet another case where live actors mixed with clever VFX (the dwarves run, leap and fly on cool accordion stilts) don't come close to giving us that soaring Disney magic. Some of the animation fakery (the gorgeous opening intro, the evil Queen's ageless mirror) works better than the rest of the movie, which just feels fake. "Mirror Mirror" has no new take on this story (didn't the Red Queen already play live chess in "Alice in Wonderland"?), and veers from irritating to dull.

This article is related to: Relativity Media, Reviews, Reviews, Critics, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.