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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.

Lily Collins' Snow White is a doltish drip; we don't believe that Armie Hammer's handsome buffoon of a Prince Charming is in love with her (remarkably, Hammer survives this movie), nor the Seven Dwarfs for that matter. The Queen's feelings toward her step-daughter almost make sense. Why is the gang of seven thieves teaching her to fight and rob? So she can be slightly more acceptable to a modern audience? In one scene she clashes swords, pitifully, with the Prince. It's unbelievable. (The Playlist interviewed Collins and Hammer here.)

The tone veers all over the place. The best thing in the movie is the Bollywood closing number, which holds a clue to the kind of daring the movie lacks. Singh has plans to take a very different direction on his next, "Eye In the Sky." Who can blame him? While the often incoherent filmmaker has always favored style over content in the past, he was never this insipid.

A smattering of reviews is below.

Roger Ebert:

"'Mirror Mirror' is a sumptuous fantasy for the eyes and a pinball game for the mind, as story elements collide and roll around bumping into each other,..It's almost uncanny in some scenes here, how Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) looks like Audrey Hepburn,..She's all sweet, all innocent, but Julia Roberts steals the show with her imperious and autocratic Queen. All of this is in place and looks great, but the dialogue is rather flat, the movie sort of boring, and there's not much energy in the two places it should really be felt: Between the Queen and Snow White, and between Snow and the Prince. The story is a listless tale that moves at a stately pace through settings that could have supported fireworks."


"Poised between revisionist fairy tale and smirking sendup, this gaudy, over-frosted cream puff of a movie half-heartedly positions its famous heroine as a dagger-wielding proto-feminist, yet ultimately suffers the same fatal flaw as Julia Roberts' evil queen: It doesn't really care about anything except how pretty it looks."

Christy Lemire:

"Julia Roberts chews up the scenery and spits it back out again with great brio in her first truly villainous role as the evil Queen in 'Mirror Mirror.' And oh, what scenery it is,..Basically, the scenery IS the movie,..Collins has a lovely screen presence — she's got this young Audrey Hepburn thing going — but she lacks a certain oomph, even after her character has learned to fight and supposedly found her inner strength. Roberts rules her at every turn, even when she flashes that iconic smile in cruel fashion. She seems to be reveling in playing a role that's such a departure; that sense of joy only sporadically finds its way to the rest of the film."

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

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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.