To say that Mirror Mirror is all style and no substance would be giving the film too much credit. While director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Immortals) makes Mirror Mirror a spectacle to behold, the plot is abysmal and the script is completely unsalvageable, to the point of giving viewers second-hand embarrassment for everyone involved. A pretty picture is not enough to buoy audiences through this dreadful and unfunny mess.
Once upon a time, a queen gave birth to a beautiful daughter, with hair as black as night and skin as white as snow. Unfortunately, the queen died in childbirth, leaving the king (Sean Bean) to raise Snow White (Lily Collins) all alone. Soon, darkness breaks over the land and the king must leave Snow White to fight for his kingdom.
News returns to the castle that the king is dead. Poor Snow White is left in the care of her wicked stepmother, the queen (Julia Roberts), who despises Snow White’s beauty and keeps her sequestered in the castle day and night.
On the day of her eighteenth birthday, Snow White pleads for the queen to let her attend the queen’s gala. After being cruelly rebuffed, Snow ventures into the forest and finds the prince (Armie Hammer) in quite a state, having been robbed, stripped and strung up a tree by dwarves on spring legs. Snow kindly cuts him down and continues on her way until she reaches the village.
Ever since the queen came into power, the villagers have been unfairly taxed. The taxes have taken their toll and the village is in a state of extreme poverty. Snow is aghast at what she sees and races back to the castle, determined to save her father’s kingdom.
At the castle, the prince meets with the queen, who clothes him and his valet and invites them to the gala. In private, the queen’s servant Brighton (Nathan Lane) informs the queen that they will not be able to pay for tonight’s gala. Years of extravagance have left the kingdom bankrupt. The queen will not hear of this and, after ordering more taxes on her already over-taxed subjects, becomes determined to marry the rich prince.
In spite of her stepmother’s orders, Snow White sneaks into the gala where she is reunited with the prince, who seems much happier to dance with her instead of the queen. When the queen finds out Snow White has snuck in, she decides she’s had enough of her troublesome stepdaughter and orders Brighton to kill Snow White.
In the dark forest, Brighton drags a bound Snow White deeper and deeper into the darkness. A terrifying howl rings through the trees and Brighton flees, leaving Snow White alive but alone in the cold. She runs wildly through the forest for hours before collapsing in the snow. When Snow White awakens, she is surrounded by seven dwarves, who take pity on her and let her stay the night.
Back at the castle, the queen is scheming to get the prince to marry her. To her dismay, he has already fallen in love with Snow White. Even worse, the queen soon finds out that Brighton has failed her and Snow White is still alive. So she turns to her magic mirror to bewitch the prince and kill Snow White once and for all.
Visually, Mirror Mirror is a stunner. Singh has proven once again to be a master of creating lush, beautiful fantasy worlds. No expense was spared—from elaborate costumes to lavish effects, the Snow White universe truly comes to life. It’s such a shame that, underneath the gilded bevy of visual effects, is a story and script so wretchedly bad that not even miles of brocade can cover it up. Putting jokes in a fairy tale is a delicate art, one that Mirror Mirror is far from mastering. Most of the plot seems to be a setup for a joke, but Mirror Mirror becomes the punch line. Instead of weaving fantasy with the whimsical, the film happily treads on the moment to jam in one badly done joke after another.
Although Julia Roberts is having quite a lot of fun playing up the evil queen, the script is all over the place, never making the queen anything more than a cardboard cutout villain with an accent that weaves in and out. Lily Collins is the most despicable form of nepotism and is entirely unable to hold the film. Buried beneath her costumes, Collins remains a walking, talking and completely unconvincing pair of eyebrows. Nathan Lane is the only bright spot, which is expected of him. Too bad one man can’t make this dreck watchable.
is now available on DVD (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, MSRP: $29.98) with just two special features. The featurettes aren’t worth the price, with “Prince and Puppies” being a two-minute piece on puppies watching a scene from the film. Why is this necessary? Which studio head signed off on this? “Looking Through the Mirror,” meanwhile, is a vomit-inducing 13 minutes on just how great Tarsem Singh is.
The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack with digital copy (MSRP: $39.99) adds to the special features a Mirror Mirror interactive storybook, five deleted scenes, a free music download of Lily Collins’ “I Believe in Love (Evil Queen Mix)” and an additional featurette, “I Believe I Can Dance.” The interactive storybook is the kid pleaser, going through the film’s plot in storybook form. The deleted scenes offer more bad jokes, the only mildly interesting bit being an alternate opening. Finally, “I Believe I Can Dance” is a dance tutorial for parents who want 11 minutes of their children flailing across the room.
is just another movie in a long line of failed live-action fairy tales, destined to be tossed on the trash heap of history. It proves once again that no one can outdo classic Disney.
Mirror Mirror is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.