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Mirror, Mirror Review

Once upon a time, Julia Roberts was America’s sweetheart. She captured our hearts with Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman and won an Oscar for Erin Brockovich about a decade later. Fast forward 10 years, and Roberts decides to have a little fun playing against type in Tarsem Singh’s Mirror, Mirror. Here, the Oscar winner now embodies the evil Queen who wants to kill Snow White. But enough about Roberts: let’s talk about the rest of the movie. Given the film’s aim at families and consequent lighthearted nature, you don’t get too much action with “Mirror," but Singh’s take on the Grimm fairytale boasts some rather interesting and surprisingly thrilling twists. Like lots of other fairytale movies, we begin with “once upon a time,” but “Mirror” surprisingly veers far off the course of its source material, opting to incorporate key elements of other well-known tales such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Cinderella” and “Robin Hood.” Additionally, we see a completely different side of Roberts as the evil Queen. Roberts doesn’t go completely evil on us, but our Queen, whose kingdom became a wintry not-so-wonderful land upon her ruling (borrowing from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, obviously), is quite ruthless in her endeavors and uncaring about others. Roberts hams up the role and gives it quite a bit of zest and perk. Whereas others might have attempted a completely serious approach or gone full-out camp, Roberts clearly gets a kick out of playing the character we all love to hate while staying true to the character. But what about the fairest one of all, Snow White herself? With Roberts receiving top billing, I wasn’t expecting much from Lily Collins, who gave fine enough work in Best Picture nominee The Blind Side and failed Taylor Lautner action-star vehicle Abduction. However, after seeing her in “Mirror” my opinion has changed. It might be a bit much to say that she carried the movie, but her kindness and innocence perfectly counteracts Roberts’ malignancy. What’s more, her naivety matches well with Armie Hammer’s cluelessness as the prince. Speaking of Hammer, he turns in the film’s best performance as the dashing, rich, and well-meaning but simple-minded Prince Alcott. Probably most famous for pulling double duty in The Social Network and very dramatic, SAG-nominated work in J. Edgar, Hammer finally gets to reveal a lighter, more humorous persona with his work here. Much of the performance works because of his charm, but he also proves himself to have excellent comedic timing, going toe-to-toe with the regal and icy Roberts as well as the humble and warm Collins. Although they don’t get to do much besides one-note work, the actors playing the seven dwarfs put in some genuinely funny, somewhat Three Stooges-reminiscent work. Oh, and for anyone wondering, there are no “snow way/no way” jokes or half-baked Scarface references from the dwarfs. It’s quite strange for the trailer to include those weak bits, especially given that we don’t see them in the finished product. As the Queen’s loyal servant Brighton, Nathan Lane gets little to do other than act like a bumbling idiot because, well, that’s what the script sadly calls on him to do. Oddly enough, he doubles as the huntsman who’s commanded to kill Snow White. Go figure. Despite an interesting, cameo-like turn from a famous Game of Thrones star, “Mirror” does a terrible job utilizing the innately talented Oscar nominee Mare Winningham. Of course this movie would be nothing without the elaborate costuming of the late Eiko Ishioka, who might very well win her second Oscar for her “Mirror” threads. Instead of taking the film into strict period-piece territory with her choices and designs, she throws together peculiarly matching colors for striking – and surprisingly gorgeous – results. I doubt there are many who can make Collins’ Björk-reminiscent swan dress and Hammer’s rabbit hat look as good as Ishioka does. Aside from Ishioka’s gorgeous designs and the set decoration, the film never goes above and beyond. While watching “Mirror,” it’s not difficult to feel that the majority of those involved weren’t particularly excited about their work. Although the script throws together several fairytales to craft a fun film, it still seems to lack the ambition for anything beyond fleeting entertainment purposes. In short, “Mirror” seems to have set limitations on itself.


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