Thu., Mar. 29, 2012 8:15 PM PDT
Review in a Hurry: Not the fairest of them all. This live-action reimagining of the Snow White story boasts sumptuous production design but suffers from comedic pacing as poisonous as that infamous apple. For adults hoping to be enchanted, this intermittently dopey flick might make you sleepy or grumpy instead.
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The Bigger Picture: Immortals director Tarsem Singh shifts from Greek legends with vengeful gods to Grimm fairy tales with thieving dwarfs. Though there’s plenty to please the young-girl crowd, Singh’s Snow White reboot whitewashes the material, so it’s safe and shiny—but narratively dull. Mirror Mirror would be better with a more cracked view.
Lovely Snow White (Lily Collins) is a princess in exile at the hands of her widowed stepmother, the Queen (Julia Roberts), who ruthlessly rules her impoverished kingdom. On her 18th birthday, Snow defiantly wanders beyond the castle walls and meets dashing Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), who’s in search of adventure.
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The Queen plots to marry this wealthy prince herself and calls for Snow’s death, but the girl escapes into the woods. Joining forces with a band of seven rebel dwarfs, Snow fights to reclaim her birthright and win the prince.
Though Snow gets an updated girl-empowerment twist, her character remains blandly drawn—more like Snow Beige. This is a Julia Roberts movie, after all, so the Queen gets the majority of screen time—and fabric, as she dons one gorgeous gown after another. Roberts flashes her Mona Lisa smile (and fumbles a British accent), but her Queen needs more bite. Remember the terrifying evil queen in Disney’s version?
Singh’s visuals are spectacular, and a couple of action sequences—a flirtatious sword match between Snow and Prince Alcott and the climactic battle against a beast—generate some excitement. But on reflection, Mirror Mirror isn’t as funny and magical as it strives to be. The script pokes fun at the fairytale world and tosses out anachronistic asides but lacks the satirical or comedic commitment of, say, Enchanted or Tangled. And scenes requiring a light, comedic touch are as cumbersome as the oversize gowns and mile-high wigs.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Hammer time! Perfect as the prince, handsome Hammer proves he can play humor and is game for anything here—from hanging upside-down half-naked to being a sniveling puppy licking the Queen’s face.
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