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Mirror Mirror Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Mirror Mirror (2012) movie poster Mirror Mirror

Theatrical Release: March 30, 2012 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar / Writers: Marc Klein, Jason Keller (screenplay); Melisa Wallack (screen story)

Cast: Julia Roberts (The Queen), Lily Collins (Snow White), Armie Hammer (Prince Alcott), Nathan Lane (Brighton), Jordan Prentice (Napoleon), Mark Povinelli (Half Pint), Joey Gnoffo (Grub), Danny Woodburn (Grimm), Sebastian Saraceno (Wolf), Martin Klebba (Butcher), Ronald Lee Clark (Chuckles), Robert Emms (Charles Renback), Mare Winningham (Baker Margaret), Michael Lerner (Baron), Sean Bean (King), Bonnie Bentley (Caroline the Poor Woman)

Buy Mirror Mirror from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy • DVD • Instant Video

A tradition that goes back several years was resurrected in 2012 with the release of dueling films covering similar ground in close proximity. There are many classic examples of Hollywood déjà vu: Deep Impact opening less than two months before Armageddon,
DreamWorks' Antz preceding Pixar's A Bug's Life by a mere seven weeks, The Illusionist and The Prestige hitting theaters the same fall, and so on. This year's entry to the "too similar to be mere coincidence" case file involved the film industry giving us not one but two live-action Snow White movies.

This scenario, anticipated long in advance with the two competing studios vying to reach the finish line first, managed to find a good deal of thematic distance between the rival projects, which arrived just two months apart. Relativity Media's Mirror Mirror came first, debuting quietly at the end of March. Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman braved the more cutthroat summer movie season with a June 1st opening and quickly established itself as blockbuster fare. The two films were only slightly more likely to be confused for one another than the Kevin James hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Seth Rogen flop Observe and Report were to be mixed up in early 2009. Mirror Mirror was colorful, comedic, and rated PG. SWatH was darker, more action-oriented, and PG-13.

The Queen (Julia Roberts) dresses like a peacock at a royal ball. The Queen kindly avoids an eyebrow remark in inspecting her stepdaughter Snow White (Lily Collins).

Though it shares a title, Mirror Mirror is unrelated to Wicked author Gregory Maguire's revisionist 2003 adult Snow White novel. This film credits three separate writers, each with short and varied resumes, for story and screenplay.

Julia Roberts plays The Queen: villainess, narrator, and stepmother to Snow White in a vague European past. Vain and jealous, the Queen entertains herself with things like human chess games in which her guards are the pieces. Snow White (Lily Collins) is turning 18, but the occasion doesn't cause her stepmother to reconsider her cold attitude toward her.

Making a rare venture outside her palace, Snow White encounters Prince Alcott of Valencia (Armie Hammer), a strapping young man in a compromised situation. Neither he nor she identifies themselves as royalty, but groundwork is nonetheless laid. Threatened by Snow White's developing confidence, The Queen orders her put-upon assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane) to kill the girl who challenges her status as the fairest in the land.

Brighton doesn't have the heart to carry out those orders, though he dutifully reports to the contrary. While The Queen briefly and emptily mourns the princess' death, Snow White finds shelter in the woods with -- you guessed it -- seven dwarfs. These dwarfs aren't diamond miners, but thieves, who use accordion-like stilts to terrorize forestgoers. They're far from all bad, however, and Snow White gets them to agree to let her stay with them for one night. Needless to say, she reforms their character flaws almost immediately.

Meanwhile, wanting and needing a king, the image-obsessed Queen casts a spell on Prince Alcott, one of puppy love which gets him to eagerly agree to marry her, setting up a strange stepmother-stepdaughter love triangle.

The seven dwarfs (from left to right: Grimm, Grub, Napoleon, Chuckles, Wolf, Half Pint, and Butcher) are thrilled to see Snow White once again.

Mirror Mirror is pretty disappointing on almost every front. First and foremost, it wants to be a comedy, but it is almost completely void of humor. It is also a fantasy, which can produce some dazzling wizardry in a 2012 film. Only cinematic enchantment requires creativity, something this largely lacks. While the movie doesn't burden us with hollow visual effects, that is probably because it doesn't really have anything special to show off.
For a movie whose budget is reported as a substantial $85 million, the production values look less like a major motion picture and more like where we'd be had the late '90s/early '00s Wonderful World of Disney revival kept going. Mirror relies heavily on barely adequate CGI and green screen work. While it doesn't need greater embellishment than that, this is a very ordinary-looking film.

That befits the silly, childish tone, which limits the movie's appeal to young girls. The subject matter could play to a larger audience; the romance isn't mushy and action scenes show restraint instead of shamelessly pandering to males. But none of this ever exceeds mild diversion. Some blame inevitably must fall upon Tarsem Singh Dhandwar (Immortals, The Cell), who picks up his second directing credit in two years after letting many years pass in between earlier efforts.

The cast can hardly be acquitted, though. Her antagonistic role here demonstrates that Roberts is at least accepting that her reign as America's sweetheart has passed. Her performance says otherwise though, as her weak accent and unfunny delivery place her far short both of devilish charm and genuine evil. In her biggest role to date, Collins is remarkably underwhelming, lacking the personality of even a Vanessa Hudgens. Though 22 during filming, she also looks about 15 years old, which makes her romantic arc with the 25-year-old Hammer feel discomforting as well as flavorless. Hammer channels a young Brendan Fraser in his performance, though not as winningly. This is the second poor choice the actor has made following his promising breakout roles in The Social Network. If his titular turn in Disney's The Lone Ranger does not connect next summer, stardom may very well elude him. At least the vertically challenged actors (the most recognizable of whom are "Seinfeld"'s Danny Woodburn and Pirates of the Caribbean's Martin Klebba) seize what is a rare opportunity for men of their stature to flourish, providing plenty of personality the movie otherwise misses.

Tarsem injects a bit of his native India, where he last shot second unit footage for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, into Mirror Mirror with a completely out-of-place and unnecessary Bollywood-style musical finale, an opportunity for Collins to dip her toe into the business where her father Phil has had so much success.

Mirror Mirror's feeble $18.1 million opening weekend gross was good for a distant third place at the box office. Despite cool reviews and what couldn't have been very warm word-of-mouth, the film wound up enjoying three subsequent weekends with mild drops en route to a $64 M domestic draw. That leggy, reasonably respectable total was short of the budget, which was the most expensive in Relativity's first two years of distributing. Foreign markets provided needed aid, earning Mirror Mirror very close to an additional $100 million there.

With its theatrical run already forgotten and Snow White and the Huntsman's soon to follow, Relativity home video distributor Fox brought Mirror Mirror to DVD and a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack this week. As the bolding suggests, we review the latter here.

Mirror Mirror: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.85:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase with Lenticular Cover
Also available on DVD ($29.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Mirror Mirror may not be all that much to look at, but the Blu-ray's stunning 1.85:1 transfer is still a fine sight to behold. It boasts terrific sharpness, clarity, and vibrancy, utilizing nearly every available pixel. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is even more striking. The highly directional and immersive mix regularly employs the entire sound field, always engaging aurally and at times truly terrifying my feline fellow viewer. I can only imagine how much greater the film's dramatic shortcomings might seem with a less spirited presentation.

Deleted from the film, the sight of Nathan Lane putting a pig's feet on his face is preserved exclusively on Blu-ray Disc. The final costume designs of Eiko Ishioka are celebrated in "Looking Through the Mirror."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with five short deleted scenes (6:55). They include an alternate opening (in which the fourth wall is broken leading to the film's existing stop motion prologue) and a few more moments with Nathan Lane's and Armie Hammer's characters.

"Looking Through the Mirror" (12:58) is a standard surface making-of featurette, covering facets like production design, costumes, and visual effects in an overly proud fashion.

Choreographer Paul Becker and friends have got the moves like Lily Collins as they teach you how to the film's Bollywood-flavored closing dance number. The Mirror Mirror storybook retells the film in words and clips, starting with "Once Upon a Time" and stop-motion.

"I Believe I Can Dance" (11:01) has choreographer Paul Becker teach you the moves from the film's big Bollywood-style closing number. There probably aren't many people open-minded enough yet inexperienced in dance to try this out, but it is at least well produced.

A Mirror Mirror Storybook relays the film's plot in 28 animated pages, unnecessarily typing out the story letter by letter and enhancing it with score, film clips, and sound effects. It's nice treatment but the film's story seems even dumber condensed to its essence.

For no great reason, here are some puppies to promote "Mirror Mirror" Julia Roberts is a happy bride on the DVD's main menu.

"Prince and Puppies" (1:59) is a fluff piece that has young dogs critiquing Armie Hammer's performance under the influence of the Queen's puppy love spell.

Mirror Mirror's original theatrical trailer (2:07) is kindly preserved.

Both discs open with trailers for Ice Age: Continental Drift and Cowgirls 'n Angels,
followed by a Fox family movie Blu-ray promo set to Martin Solveig & Dragonette's "Hello." Their Sneak Peek menus hold those and add a static ad for the Mirror Mirror soundtrack.

The DVD sold on its own includes only "Looking Through the Mirror" and "Prince and Puppies." The DVD of this combo pack offers neither, clearing them to make space for two transferrable digital copies in iTunes and MP4 Video formats.

On both discs, the main menu plays clips inside a golden frame. Unlike most of Fox's BDs, this one does not support bookmarks or resume unfinished playback.

Instead of the usual slipcover, Mirror Mirror is given just a lenticular cardboard front atop its shrinkwrap. It isn't hard to separate that from the shrinkwrap. Once you do, you may opt to affix it to the keepcase with its adhesive goo. The cover coolly, precisely alternates between Snow White and the Wicked Queen depending on your viewing angle, differing from the artwork below. Inside the keepcase, two inserts provide directions for accessing the set's digital copy and the complimentary download of a remix of the film's one and only song, Lily Collins' "I Believe in Love (Evil Queen Mix)".

Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) and his footman Charles Renbock (Robert Emms) repeatedly run into trouble in the snowy woods. Snow White (Lily Collins) comes awfully close to biting the infamous poisoned apple.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Mirror Mirror offers an uninspired adaptation of the familiar Snow White fairy tale. Comedically, fantastically, and romantically, it misses just about every one of its marks. Fairy tale films are still rare enough to warrant some interest and this isn't terrible in any grandiose way. Still, unless you are an easily impressed young girl, the best case scenario is that you go in with low enough expectations to wind up liking (but not loving) this movie.

Fox's Blu-ray combo pack delivers a dynamite feature presentation and a decent variety of bonus features. It's not a film many will consider worthy of their collections, but households that disagree should be satisfied with this release.

Buy Mirror Mirror now from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New: The Princess Diaries & The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement • Radio Rebel • A Thousand Words • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Julia Roberts: Eat Pray Love | Lily Collins: Priest | Armie Hammer: J. Edgar | Danny Woodburn: Santa Buddies • The Search for Santa Paws
Nathan Lane: The Lion King • Teacher's Pet • Swing Vote
Alice in Wonderland (2010) • Red Riding Hood • Enchanted • Once Upon a Mattress • The Brothers Grimm
The Witches of Oz • A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs • Tangled • The Princess Bride • Labyrinth • The Princess and the Frog

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Reviewed June 29, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Relativity Media, Yuk Films, Goldmann Pictures, Rat Entertainment, Misher Films, and Fox Home Entertainment.
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