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With: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark, Robert Emms, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Sean Bean
Written by: Melissa Wallack, Jason Keller, based on a story by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Directed by: Tarsem Singh
MPAA Rating: PG for some fantasy action and mild rude humor
Running Time: 106
Date: 03/15/2012

Mirror Mirror (2012)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Vanity Case

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

What was the original point of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm's 200 year-old "Snow-White" story? Most likely it was to teach kids "don't be vain" and "don't open the door to strangers."

What is the point of Tarsem Singh's new movie Mirror Mirror? Probably something along the lines of "ooh... pretty!"

That's not being entirely fair, since Mirror Mirror is a good deal of fun, at least for its first half.

Julia Roberts is top-billed as the wicked queen. In this movie, the queen actually enters her magic mirror and transports to a weird grass hut in the middle of the ocean, where she converses with her reflection.

The queen keeps her stepdaughter Snow White locked away while she rules the peasants with a selfish cruelty, sucking more and more tax money from them to finance her lavish parties.

Lily Collins plays Snow, and she's absolutely radiant. Unlike any previous Snow White, Collins is also resourceful and tough.

Taken out into the woods and left for dead, she finds her seven dwarfs, played by a handful of great little people character actors, including Martin Klebba (most recently seen in Project X).

This time, instead of making her a housekeeper, the dwarves train her to fight.

Armie Hammer (from The Social Network) plays the handsome, but also funny and dashing, prince. He's such a catch that even the queen wants to marry him.

The cast, including Roberts, Hammer, and Collins, bring a welcome humorous charm to their parts, keeping the proceedings light.

They have some big shoes to fill, since Disney's darkly sweet animated version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) has more or less become standard.

Mirror Mirror makes a strong attempt to improve on the formerly passive character.

However, though Singh, a famous former music video director, is wonderful at making striking, glitzy shots, he's not particularly good at moving forward.

As Singh and screenwriters Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller take their movie toward its conclusion, the storytelling becomes flatter and more inert.

A computer-generated monster loose in the woods is one of big climaxes, in addition to big, dramatic showdowns.

These are awfully dull compared to some of the simpler, more cheerful character interactions from earlier on.

Focused mainly on style, it seems that both movies forgot the Grimms' lesson on vanity.
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