Sunday, April 8, 2012
Part of the problem may simply be the gonzo genius of his regular costumer and the sadly departed Eiko Ishioka (she passed away late last year to cancer), for her work is a creature upon itself demanding of superior writing and storytelling finesse to not upstage it. Ishioka, who won an Oscar for the beautifully off kilter designs for Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stroker's Dracula has creations that have such personality, the strident and staid performers feel almost afraid of them. This is especially true of the casting of the wan Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Snow White, who makes the scantest of impressions, relying unjustly on her lily white skin tone alone. Julia Roberts plays her the Evil Queen in her campiest performance to date, and while she hits and misses (and truly never appears threatening...she's still America's sweetheart after all), there's a nice give away to such a generous performer mugging away and clearly having a ball at it...there's even further proof that Roberts may become a looser and sharper comedienne once the veneer of her celebrity fades ever so. Armie Hammer plays Prince Charming, with a puckish, aristocrat snide, but only appears to have get the joke.
The problem with Mirror Mirror is almost an identity issue from the start. It begins with a strong prologue, visually sweeping in such an unique, weird, slightly dangerous way only to curtail into an endless game of self-referential jokes, third tier Shrek-style lampooning and shoddy slapstick. The candy-colored palette feels market-tested to death, ridding the film of a distinctive sense of self. Never too edgy as not to dismay the youngsters, soothed by the Disney notion of fairy tales, but never to sodden as to put their parents asleep, Mirror Mirror has such a strange combination of rotten and ripe, overdone but undercooked. Tarsem may soon find his masterpiece, and it indeed be in the realm of fairy tales themselves, but Mirror Mirror has the bitter aftertaste of one of the Evil Queen's apples. C