‘Mirror Mirror’ (2012) review: A new type of vanity fair

Editor’s note: This review first was published March 30, 2012.

‘Mirror Mirror’ a cute, predictable take on Snow White

Oh, the jokes. So many jokes. If only they were funny. And that’s the major problem with “Mirror Mirror”: While cute to the point of being saccharin, the comedic take the movie seeks to take is in reality not that funny.

Taking a lighter turn on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, director Tarsem Singh (“Immortals”) presents us with a cheeky redo of the otherwise darker tale of vanity and would-be murder. His flair, always grandiose, is in full swing in “Mirror Mirror,” where Julia Roberts, thoroughly enjoying herself as she plays the wicked Queen, prances around in blood-red gowns while deciding how to remove the fair Snow White (Lily Collins) from her life.

You see, the story line here remains mostly the same: a lonely widowed king remarries a beautiful woman; the king soon disappears, leaving his even more beautiful daughter in clutches in her vain Highness; a talking mirror is involved; some dwarfs jump into the fray; and a prince tries to save the day.

The major plot difference: Snow White finally picks her up her own sword and defends herself. A nice, feminist touch for sure, but in the age of “Snow White & the Huntsman” and “The Hunger Games,” it doesn’t quite compare.

Still, Tarsem is nothing if not consistent. As with “Immortals,” what’s lacking in plot is more than made up for in style and design. The costumes alone, designed by Eiko Ishioka (who died in January), are worth seeing. They capture the elegant and outlandish mentality of the psychotically vain queen and the ever-innocent Snow White. Combine that with the stunning sets and meticulous detail added into the scenery, and you have quite the pretty picture (even if nothing is happening).

Still, watching Roberts and Nathan Lane, who plays the queen’s henchman, Brighton, go back and forth is fairly humorous, thanks in large part to his jittery and snarky performance.

In the end, the attempt to modernize Snow White by giving her a sword and loading the characters with puns galore fails to offer anything new. Yes, it’s pretty, but so what?

Two poisoned stars out of five.

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