Blu-Ray Review: Mirror Mirror

'Not a great film, and it’s probably not Singh’s best, but it’s definitely his most even and consistent.'

Devon Ashbyby Devon Ashby

 

Mirror Mirror, the latest big-budgeted and visually audacious entry from high-gloss surrealist Tarsem Singh, is now available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack from 20th Century Fox. Like much of Singh’s previous filmography, Mirror Mirror banks on visual flair to achieve a dramatic effect that’s not always adequately supported by the intricacy of its content. Singh’s signature combination of freewheeling bombasticism and overbearing thematic endeavors frequently make his work uneven and unsatisfying, but although Mirror Mirror suffers from occasional overdoses of twee and grating humor, its younger target demographic, and consequently simplified story and characters, make it, perhaps ironically, a better fit for the director than many of his more ambitious projects.

Featuring Lily Collins as unjustly deposed fairy tale Princess Snow White, and Hollywood perennial Julia Roberts as the iconic evil queen, Mirror Mirror revamps the classic fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in a way pointedly similar to the tongue-in-cheek, meticulously hip Disney fairy tales of the 1990s. Roberts plays a snidely jealous, sarcastic, and superficial queen obsessed with expensive parties and beauty treatments, whose fear of age and obsolescence are increasingly incited by the growth and maturation of her beautiful stepdaughter, Snow. The Queen’s worries are further compounded by the slow realization that her kingdom is going bankrupt from mismanagement and over-taxation, meaning she must quickly find a new, wealthy husband in order to avoid total destitution.

The Queen’s problems appear to be solved by the arrival of an attractive young Prince (Armie Hammer), but her plans are soon driven awry by the Prince’s fateful encounter, and subsequent infatuation with Snow. Charging her effete, groveling footman (Nathan Lane) with disposing of the meddling Princess, the Queen instead discovers, to her chagrin, that Snow White has escaped and joined forces with a band of militant, thieving dwarves, driven from the kingdom by legal discrimination, and now bent on the Queen’s destruction.

More than anything, Mirror Mirror is an outspoken homage to modernized fairy tales, and to Disney movies of a certain era in particular. Images like the wilting rose in a glass featured during the opening sequence allude to Disney’s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, for example, and Nathan Lane’s inclusion in the cast likewise feels highly appropriate. Singh describes the project in the disc’s behind-the-scenes material as a live-action interpretation of classic animation, and what it strives for in that respect, the film basically achieves. It also represents an unusually coherent realization of style and substance for Singh, although the solution he apparently chose was merely to dilute and simplify the story, allowing his visuals to dominate unapologetically in the way they typically do anyway. Mirror Mirror is not a great film, and it’s probably not Singh’s best, but it’s definitely his most even and consistent.

The Blu-ray contains an even mix of special features for casual viewers (i.e. little girls excited about the costumes, the dance moves, and the love story) and people who care about special effects and technical details. There’s a digital storybook version of the film with animated text, and an adorable little how-to video thing about how to learn all the steps to the climactic Bollywood dance sequence at the end of the movie. Also included are some deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette that focuses mainly on costume development and art direction, plus probably the most pointlessly adorable and stupid special feature video ever wherein actual puppies are forced to watch vide of Armie Hammer acting like a puppy.