Based on the critical response to “Mirror, Mirror,” which opens today, the bar has been set relatively low.
Critics are definitely mixed regarding Tarsem Singh’s slapsticky, visually striking adaptation of the well-known fairy tale. It currently possesses a 54 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but drops down to 36 percent positive when you filter by top critics.
What are the sticking points? Let’s begin with star Lily Collins, whose portrayal of Snow White doesn’t appear to have charmed many.
Writing in The Washington Post, Sandie Angulo Chen calls Collins’s performance “a washout”: “Disney’s kind and gentle Snow White was charming, could sing and regularly talked to woodland creatures. The same cannot be said of Collins, who is lovely (regardless of where you fall in the bushy eyebrows debate) but lacks the sort of charisma that made co-star Roberts the ultimate ‘Pretty Woman’ in Hollywood.”
Roger Moore of McClatchy-Tribune is even less kind: “Not since Francis Ford Coppola slapped his daughter Sofia into ‘Godfather III’ have we seen a performance this dull, whispered and charisma free.”
Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News just loathes the entire thing: “Director Tarsem Singhhas has a reputation as a “visual stylist,” but that doesn’t help ‘Mirror, Mirror,’ where scary forests seem recycled from some high school theater production and the queen’s omniscient mirror lives in a kind of wooden outhouse adrift in a Dali painting.”
Manohla Dargis of the New York Times is a bit more diplomatic: “ ‘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.”
On the other hand, Linda Holmes of NPR genuinely likes the film, especially Armie Hammer’s performance in it: “He remains at all times deeply and persuasively sexy, but he also commits utterly to sequences that require a level of silliness that not all traditionally gorgeous young actors can give themselves over to so completely — especially as they're still negotiating a career transition from supporting roles (‘The Social Network,’ ‘J. Edgar’) to leads.”
Know who else enjoyed it? The 8-year-old daughter of a Daily Beast writer. Ramin Setoodah hated the film on first viewing, but brought along young Samara for a second screening and shared some of her opinions in his write-up. She had positive comments about nearly every aspect of “Mirror, Mirror,” but I appreciated her assessment of the seven dwarfs most: “I thought they were plain funny. I liked that they all said, ‘Huddle up, dudes,’ and one would be smacking the other in the head, and it was really funny. I really liked the dwarfs. My favorite part about them was basically everything.”
Do you plan to see “Mirror, Mirror” this weekend? Or are you holding out for “Snow White and the Huntsman”? Feel free to share your fairy-tale-movie preferences by posting a comment.