2012 saw the release of not one but two Snow White movies: Universal's Snow White & The Huntsman and 20th Century Fox's Mirror Mirror. The latter was directed by Tarsem Singh and starred Lily Collins and Julia Roberts.
A significantly more comedic approach to the Brothers Grimm's classic tale, Mirror Mirror did reasonably well at the box-office (mostly thanks to its international ticket sales) despite receiving generally mixed reviews. Tarsem Singh having directed the dark and visually stunning Immortals a year prior, with that film's costume designer Eiko Ishioka onboard for Mirror Mirror as well, this project definitely had a lot of potential. Ishioka, who sadly passed away that same year, did not disappoint here and her reliably excellent work with the costumes in this film earned her an Academy Award.
This being Tarsem Singh's first comedy, there was a question of whether his style could work with this genre and, it turns out, not really? This is a nice-looking film with inventive costumes, slick production design and art direction, and the cast is certainly competent. Julia Roberts clearly has a great time as the evil Queen, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer give solid performances as Snow White and the Prince, Nathan Lane is fun, and Danny Woodburn, along with the rest of the actors playing the Dwarves, brings some much-needed charm to it all.
Unfortunately, the comedy itself isn't particularly funny and the humour can be a little on the heavy-handed side more often than not. Mirror Mirror doesn't take itself seriously, which is refreshing in a way, but one can't help but feel that it makes the film look pretty lazy. From the writing to Tarsem Singh's direction, this does not feel like an $85M movie, it feels like either an expensive Panto or a TV movie akin to the Kristin Kreuk-starring Snow White: The Fairest Of Them All from 2001. Not that it necessarily looks cheap, it's just shot in such a way that the sets very much look like sets and it all feels like a sitcom. The storytelling is rather slight also and the musical number during the end credits suggests this might have actually worked better as a musical.
You can imagine a project like this working with a sharp enough script and bold direction but there's, frankly, a lack of effort from the filmmakers here who, perhaps, in the hope of presenting something light-hearted and kid-friendly, just didn't feel the need to craft something with great care and deliver an impressive cinematic experience.