|Julia Roberts, overwhelmed by costumes and character|
“Relativity's decision not to co-finance Snow White and the Huntsman with Universal and instead make their own film to compete with [them] wasn't a wise decision.” Given the limited-to-youth appeal of the Mirror Mirror trailer when compared with Huntsman’s darker, racier, and visually stunning materials, “people are waiting for that ‘Snow White’ film.”
|Snow White and the seven dwarves|
As the film opens, Roberts intones in a strangely accented voiceover, that this story will be about the Queen, rather than Snow White. And therein lies the rub. Roberts has been a welcome presence in rom-coms in the past, but she is definitely a most contemporary actress. When she tries to act in a story that isn't set in the current day the results, like Mary Reilly, are disastrous. Mirror Mirror is a fairy tale, and Roberts is much too far out of her element. She lacks the arch delivery needed to make her Queen truly evil. She's just mean and bitchy and bored, and not much fun to watch, despite the fabulous costuming by the late Eiko Ishioka. What's worse, she knows she is not right for the part and telegraphs her discomfort in a series of lackluster line readings, each word delivered seriously, without a hint of irony or wicked glee. In two scenes she even desperately utilizes her trademark guffaw, but it is out of context and inappropriate.
|All the costumes by Eiko Ishioka are exquisite, but the animal headdresses at a ball are especially fanciful|
But there are a few highlights. Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Immortals) brings his usual visual flair to scenes, playing with scale and injecting a sense of the fantastical into the proceedings. There is a lovely animated opening sequence, a Beast that lurks in the forest, and some lethal puppets employed by the Queen that all add to the film's imagery. Mirror Mirror's best scenes include Snow (Lily Collins) with the seven dwarves, who are a combination of the usual cutesy personalities with a grittier approach, reminiscent of Time Bandits. Snow and the Prince, played by Armie Hammer (frequently shirtless, one of the other high points of the film), are also great together. Nathan Lane is always fun to watch, and tries to have fun with the banter in his scenes with Roberts, but you can tell he would have been beter paired with someone who could have bantered back. Sean Bean aso makes a brief but extremely welcome appearance as Snow's father, the King.
|Sean Bean and Nathan Lane are welcome additions to the cast|