Review - 14 Years Bad Luck ("Mirror, Mirror," "The 10th Kingdom")
In "Mirror,Mirror," we get the most recent re-telling of the classic fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, albeit butchered and resown together, Frankenstein-style, by director Tarsem Singh, whose previous films The Cell and Immortals were anything BUT comedies. Scripted by Melisa Wallack and Jason Keller who, between them, haven't written a comedic screenplay. It shows. So, what do you have? A non-comedic director directing a comedy written by fledgling writers that haven't written a comedy - ever. YIKES! Don't say I didn't warn you, kiddies!
Julia Roberts (nice, but miscast here) plays the Evil Queen, hell-bent on knocking-off beautiful Snow White (a very cute Lily Collins) because handsome prince Alcott (Armie Hammer - perfect casting) has fallen for Snow, and not the Queen (who is flat broke and needs to marry Alcott to survive.) The Queen consults her "mirror" for advice, which is a wall of liquid that leads to a very weird and bizarre "Gilligan's Island" hut (don't ask, it's just too strange to explain.)
Meanwhile, the Queen's servant, Brighton (Nathan Lane -- looking unhappy) and NOT the huntsman is sent to kill Snow (but can't,) leaving Snow to fend for herself in the dark woods and meets... You guessed it - the seven dwarfs. But forget about goofy miners with names like "Sneezy," "Doc" or "Dopey," these guys are all thieves on 7 foot retractable stilts and named Grimm, HalfPint, Grub, etc.
Snow White is taken in, cared for, trained as a warrior (in a typical cliched training montage,) and then let loose against the Queen and the Prince (who's under the Queen's "puppy-dog" spell.) The climatic ending resolves with the Queen's comeuppance, the dwarfs independence, and a smattering of general "happily-ever-afters" all around with Snow and Princey-boy. AND (I swear I am NOT making this up,) a Bollywood-dance ending!
Comedies, by and large, are a tough sell, and given what this film HAD to offer, it COULD have been a ripping good comedy on the old favorite, IF it were handled by a true comedic director. It had such a great idea behind it. Parody Snow White? Perfect! Too bad this movie was so short-sighted in taking that parody and running with it.
Now, don't get me wrong, "Mirror, Mirror" did have some LOL moments, but only moments. The pacing was jumbled with major plot holes; directing was all over the place and SO concentrated on the magnificent costuming and set design, that it was a shame that the same meticulous eye didn't go into garnishing the yucks it needed. Director Singh loves the visceral and the visual.
As I watched, I could see many hysterical moments and great opportunities totally wasted as the film progressed. I say pass on this flick and wait for the upcoming "Snow White and the Huntsman," a much darker version of the classic tale. AND cross your fingers!
THE 10TH KINGDOM (2000)
A LONG & richly told tale that was never seen in the theaters, mainly due to the fact that this gem was a mini-series shown on NBC-TV back in 2000 and over 5 nights. Remember the "mini-series"? Each a two-hour "episode," each story delved deeper and deeper into the realm of the "Nine Kingdoms", a fantasy world living side-by-side with ours, but only accessible by going through a special mirror.
OUR world, (or more specific to this story, modern day NYC) is the "10th Kingdom" and heroes Virginia Lewis (Kimberly Williams) and her dad, Anthony (John Larroquette) are reluctantly brought into their world through a magical mirror by a very sneeky wolf/man named simply Wolf (Scott Cohen--very funny.) The mirror, located in Central Park of all places, is smashed and the rest of the series is spent having Virginia and her dad find another mirror to get back themselves back home.
BUT! This world isn't exactly what they thought it would be... it's the world of all fairy tales characters! There's (to name a few) imprisoned Snow White (Camryn Manheim,) Cinderella (Ann-Margret,) the Trolls and their Troll King (Ed O'Neill,) and of course, the Evil Queen (Dianne Weist - really evil here,) who learns about Virginia (her "real" daughter) and has her faithful Huntsman (Rutger Hauer) go out to kill her!
Every "episode" is an adventure to A) find a clue to lead Virginia, dad, and Wolf to find a magical mirror to get back to NYC, B) stay one step ahead of the Huntsman, C) Wolf trying not to fall in love with Virginia (I don't have to tellya how THAT turns out,) and D) somehow save the 9th Kingdom from the Evil Queen's clutches. Whew!
And along the way they naturally meet up with a bunch of fairy tale creatures and have some interaction with them. Fun, daring, very high production set designs, and a really excellent script by Simon Moore (that must've looked like an encyclopedia,) this epic happily translated to the screen thanks to directors Herbert Wise & David Carson. You can still see this masterpiece on Netflix or Blockbuster.com