Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie with Abe: Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Released March 30, 2012

There’s just something about Snow White that people seem to love at the moment. ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” which features fairy tale characters in their natural world and ignorant of their pasts and roles in a new modern-day society, showcases Snow White as a prominent character. The forthcoming film “Snow White and the Huntsman,” to be released in June, also features the title character, played by Kristen Stewart, in a tale that looks to be considerably darker. This amusing and often entertaining rendition is a peculiarly and occasionally clever update on a classic story that has been told many times.

Perhaps most notable about “Mirror Mirror” is that the story isn’t told from Snow White’s perspective, but instead from that of the Queen, played by Julia Roberts, who’s clearly having a blast being evil and talking down to all those around her. Incorporated into her character is a frightening alter ago, accessible via an alternate world within the mirror itself, who uses dark magic to bring about the Queen’s will, at an unknown expense about which the Queen seems utterly unconcerned. The Queen’s narration of the story is littered with modern observations and momentary lapses in accent, which is just the kind of behavior that defines this film.

As the fairy tale dictates, Snow White must inevitably encounter the seven dwarves. In this version, the dwarves are tweaked in a truly intriguing fashion. They stand on stilts and wear masks to appear like giants to rob those that wander through their woods, and they’re hardly polite or exceedingly sincere. That leads to the structuring of this particular tale, which is relatively short and simplistic, and emphasizes humor over anything else. Lily Collins, in what marks only her fourth feature film role, doesn’t try to be charming and whimsical like many fairy tale heroines, and instead serves mainly as a supporting character spotlighted only in her flirtatious interactions with the prince, played by Armie Hammer from “The Social Network,” who has found himself a general role in which he could be typecast in the future. Nathan Lane plays just the kind of character that one would think would be played by Nathan Lane, the Queen’s loyal and much-abused servant. Ultimately, the film is Roberts’, as she effortlessly owns each scene and has a great time doing it. The production values aren’t terribly convincing or mesmerizing, and neither is the writing, but there’s not much harm in offering a fresh if less than invigorating and consistent take on a tale as old as time.


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