I admit, I steered clear of Mirror Mirror entirely because what I call The Julia Roberts Factor. No, I am not a fan, and have always been baffled by the charm she has cast over mainstream audiences. At the same time, I couldn't help but be a big intrigued, knowing that the film was directed by Tarsem Singh, a hit-and-miss director who is arguably one of the most visually stylish directors making movies in the system. So, I finally bit.
Mirror Mirror turned out to be not so excruciating, as long as I averted my eyes whenever Julia was on screen. Julia plays the wicked Queen and stepmother to one Snow White (Lily Collins). Snow's dad the king was killed in the woods, and the Queen has reigned in terror ever since, locking Snow White in her room, throwing extravagant parties on the taxpayers' dimes, and letting the villagers live in poverty. Snow White's 18th birthday has her shunned from the castle, and in the meantime a handsome Prince (Armie Hammer) stumbles into the kingdom (becoming the pet and potential husband of the Queen), and seven really short guys living in the woods take kindly on the tall pale girl who becomes their friend.
Mirror Mirror is a Technicolor Snow White, with some curiosities, including Julia Roberts' annoying screen hogging persona and wobbly accent (you really aren't that good, Julia), and a baffling "just because" Bollywood musical number at the end of the film. But Lily Collins and Armie Hammer are both sweet and charming leads, and unsurprisingly Nathan Lane gets some good laughs in as the Queen's long-suffering whipping boy. The film certainly looks fantastic, which alone makes it worth watching. Mirror Mirror has definitely created one of the more magical kingdoms of modern fairy tale films, and it is absolute eye-candy, down to the feather on Snow White's outrageous Bjork-worthy ballroom headdress.
Thee is a making-of featurette "Looking Through the Mirror", which talks a bit about the fantastic art direction plus the amazing costume designs by Eiko Ishioka, as well as deleted scenes (including an odd, misplaced gay joke). "I Believe I Can Dance" has the choreographer of the closing credits' Bollywood-style dance number taking you through the whole song step by step (with a nice array of men and women dancers following along, so you don't feel like a heel for trying if you are not a 'tween). For the younger fans, there is a storybook, which is just a "page-turner" visual representation of the story told by Julia Roberts at the beginning of the film, and for the youngest young fans, there's "Prince and Puppies", which is narrated by, yes, puppies, who evaluate how well Armie Hammer acted in his puppy love phase (it turns out to be a public service ad for adopting unwanted dogs, so it is hard to criticize the cheese).