Mirror Mirror review

mirror review posterThe tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves has been reinvented, reimagined, and retold countless times over the last two centuries, but this year brings us not one but two feature films based on the classic story by the Brothers Grimm. The first of those films arrives in theaters this weekend, with director Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror offering a lighthearted, family-friendly spin on the well-known story of an evil queen, a charming prince, and of course, a beautiful princess and seven dwarves.

Known for a unique visual flair that made him one of the most sought-after directors for music videos and commercials before catching the eye of move audiences with his debut film The Cell, Singh is venturing into unfamiliar territory with Mirror Mirror, his first PG-rated, family-friendly feature. The film stars veteran actress Julia Roberts as The Queen, Lily Collins (Priest) as Snow White, and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as Prince Alcott.

Like all of Singh’s films, Mirror Mirror makes it clear right from the start that the audience is in for one of the director’s signature visual experiences, introducing the key characters through an animated sequence that manages to be both captivating and a little disconcerting, thanks to the animator’s use of human eyes set within the animated characters. It’s a storytelling decision that feels entirely appropriate for a fairy tale told through the lens of Singh’s camera, and establishes a nice balance of wonder and dread.

Still, there’s quite a bit of Mirror Mirror that breaks from the grim, moody projects its director is known for.

mirror review snow white

Tonally, Mirror Mirror is the photo-negative of films like The Cell and Immortals. Where his earlier films were dark, serious, and filled with death, Mirror Mirror is bright, fun, and celebrates life. This cinematic U-turn extends to the film’s characters too, with Mirror Mirror offering up vibrant performances played for laughs instead of the painfully earnest, tortured souls that populated Singh’s previous films.

While it’s no surprise that Roberts gleefully owns every scene she appears in and seems to genuinely enjoy her role as the film’s comically evil Queen, the seven actors playing the dwarves are the film’s real treat. Rather than opting for an endless parade of tired jokes about their height, Mirror Mirror gives the audience a group of dwarves whose comedic moments come from witty dialogue and the actors’ great sense of timing. This results in laughs that are not only intentional, but sincere — and a desire to see more of the dwarves than you get in the film.

mirror review julia roberts and lily collins

However, where Roberts and the dwarves thrive in Mirror Mirror, Collins and (to a lesser degree) Hammer never quite find their footing in the playful world Singh has created around them. Hammer has his moments as the charming Prince Alcott, but he shares far too many scenes with Roberts, who’s clearly the focal point of Singh’s attention, and therefore the audience’s attention, too. Sadly, Collins feels more like a placeholder as Snow White, and does little to make the character her own. Whether it’s Collins’ performance, a lack of character development in the script, or Singh’s decision to focus on The Queen’s side of the story, it’s difficult to find reasons to care about Snow White in this version of the tale.

Mirror Mirror isn’t a complete break from Singh’s comfort zone, though, as it offers a nice feast for the eyes and some impressive technical achievements. More often than not, the director’s knack for visual flair supplements the story instead of covering up its flaws, though the movie is peppered with reminders that it is indeed a Tarsem Singh film.

One of the most memorable elements is the decision to have the dwarves fight on stilt-like contraptions that initially make them appear to be giants. The fight scenes featuring the dwarves are wild sequences filled with acrobatic leaps and flips by the stuntmen on stilts, and creative use of the stilts as weapons. The fact that the stilts also allow their users to bounce around like they’re on pogo sticks only adds to the fun of the scenes they feature in.

mirror review lily collins and armie hammer

Singh’s eye for color and costuming also features prominently in Mirror Mirror, and he manages to pack every scene set in the castle with eye-catching colors and amazing feats of wardrobe engineering. For instance, during a banquet the Queen holds in Prince Alcott’s honor, each attendee is dressed in formal wear that evokes a different animal, often corresponding with the Queen’s opinion of that character. While her chief servant (played by Nathan Lane) adopts the guise of a cockroach with a brown suit and antenna-sporting cap, Hammer’s character reluctantly dons a rabbit-themed tuxedo while attempting to avoid the Queen’s attentions.


For a director more accustomed to fantastic stories made for adults, Singh seems to have had little trouble adapting his process for a family-friendly film. Mirror Mirror is a surprisingly good, fun film that makes great use of Singh’s talents and frankly, offers a much more enjoyable experience than the trailers for the film suggest. While it has its share of flaws — including Collins and Hammer’s characters, and the occasional shaky storytelling device — the film succeeds at what it set out to do: offering a fresh, memorable take on the story of Snow White, and letting a wider audience experience the magic of Singh’s one-of-a-kind visual talents.

Movies & TV

New 'Mandalorian' photo links series to Boba Fett and 'Star Wars Holiday Special'

Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service will be titled The Mandalorian. The series will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Stream till you scream with the best scary movies on Netflix, Hulu, and more

Need some ghoulish entertainment to get in the Halloween spirit? Check out some of the best horror movies streaming now. Whether you like creepy atmosphere or bloody jump scares, you'll find something to spook you.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

'Avengers 4' directors signal the end of reshoots with mysterious photo

The events of Avengers: Infinity War changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some big ways and left fans wondering how its heroes can possibly recover. Here's everything we know about Avengers 4, the sequel to Infinity War.
Movies & TV

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of ‘The X-Files’ with the show’s 10 best episodes

The X-Files premiered 25 years ago, so here are the 10 best episodes of the award-winning sci-fi series. From alien-abduction drama to hilarious satires, these are the best episodes from all 11 seasons of the hit series.
Movies & TV

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' photos and video reveal Spidey's new costume

Despite some mystery surrounding Spider-Man's future after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theaters in July 2019. Here's everything we know about the movie so far.
Movies & TV

Latest 'Daredevil' season 3 preview puts the spotlight on Wilson Fisk

Season 3 of Daredevil will premiere October 19 on Netflix, so here is everything we know about the next set of adventures featuring Marvel Comics' man without fear before the third season's debut.
Home Theater

Put your home theater to the test with these spectacular Blu-ray releases

What's the point of having all of that awesome home theater gear if you can't breed a little jealousy in your friends and family? We've put together this list of fantastic Blu-rays that have the goods to drop a few jaws.
Movies & TV

Peter Dinklage gets cryptic about two 'Game of Thrones' characters' fates

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable -- if you don't mind spoilers.
Movies & TV

Never miss a moment of the NBA season with our streaming guide

The NBA season is in full swing, and if you want to watch games online, you've got plenty of options. Here's our guide to the best ways to watch NBA games online, as well as some additional resources.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (November 2018)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in October and November 2018, from new original series to classic films.