'Mirror Mirror': What the Critics Are Saying

"Mirror Mirror"
"Mirror Mirror"
 Jan Thijs

Mirror Mirror is on track to score in the $20 million-plus range at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, good enough for third place. But did the first of two Snow White projects to hit the movie theaters (the other being Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman) win over the critics?

Relativity's Mirror Mirror is a reimagining of the Brothers Grimm tale of Snow White. Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane, the story follows a queen who eyes control of Snow White's throne and desires the attention of Prince Charming.

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With a 50 percent score on RottenTomatoes, Mirror Mirror hasn't exactly received glowing reviews. Many film critics, in fact, have highlighted a few glaring issues with the 95-minute fantasy-comedy.

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney called the pairing of Relativity's revisionist Snow White film and Singh "unexpected," saying that the "pairing of director and material that is no less perplexing even after sitting through this mishmash." And though the movie banked on Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, it was Singh's weakness at narrative storytelling that shined through.

"In The Cell and Immortals, character and plotting come a distant second to the director’s elaborate visual aesthetic," he wrote, referencing Singh's previous projects. "But old-fashioned storytelling skills are paramount in any fairytale." In the end, Rooney concluded: "The impression is that of a director constantly fighting to put his stamp on material that’s foreign to him, and unable to figure out what that stamp should be."

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Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert criticized the lack of life in the dialogue for the movie: "The dialogue is rather flat, the movie sort of boring, and there's not much energy in the two places it should really be felt: Between the Queen and Snow White, and between Snow and the Prince."

The Los Angeles Times' Sheri Linden wrote that Mirror Mirror is a "visually inventive interpretation" of the classic fairytale, "without shortchanging the requisite froufrou or sugarcoating the story's dark Oedipal heart." Though she did agree in saying that the film, intended for the family crowd, "can be choppy, but the fable zings along on the sharp comic timing of the cast, led by a royally wicked Julia Roberts."

Linden also called upon Tarsem's knack for visuals to be a crutch, echoing Rooney's point: "Singh (a.k.a. Tarsem Singh Dhandwar or simply Tarsem) is a fantasist whose singular knack for spectacle can also be his weakness, set-piece razzle-dazzle not infrequently overwhelming the characters in his previous films."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis held a similar viewpoint on the movie, writing, "while Mr. Singh knows how to make performers and sets look good, he has trouble putting them into vibrant, kinetic, meaningful play, which effectively means that he’s a better window dresser than a movie director." She did give the director some credit in entertaining audiences with something to look at on the big screen: "Mirror Mirror is consistently watchable, even when it drifts into dullness because Mr. Singh always gives you something to look at, whether it’s the Queen’s blood-red gown, the sailing clouds decorating her bedroom or the dwarfs’ woodland home.

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