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Jon Niccum, McClatchy Newspapers, Published March 29 2012

Review: ‘Mirror Mirror’ is cracked

‘Mirror Mirror’

Theater: West Acres 14

Rating: PG for some fantasy action and mild rude humor

Time: 106 minutes

2 out of four stars

As the title of “Mirror Mirror” suggests, two sides battle for our attention.

A smothering visual style comes courtesy of former music video director Tarsem Singh (“Immortals”), whose priority is production design, costumes and effects. But at its core, “Mirror Mirror” is a comedy that’s a clever spin on the Brothers Grimm classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

The actors are caught somewhere in the middle of this quirky, unsatisfying film – a fractured fairy tale that alternates between amusing and infuriating with each new scene.

Still the fairest of them all, Julia Roberts portrays the Queen, who insists in the opening narration that we are witnessing the familiar story from her perspective. With the aid of a magic mirror, she has taken over a perpetually snowy kingdom and home-schooled its rightful ruler into submission. Said ruler is Snow White (Lily Collins of “The Blind Side”), and on her 18th birthday she takes a trip outside the castle to discover her subjects suffering poverty and “icy despair.”

Meanwhile, a handsome prince (Armie Hammer of “The Social Network”) runs afoul of seven thieving dwarfs on his journey to her castle. Charmed by his looks and wealth, the Queen plans to make the prince her fifth husband.

“Time for me to get rich ... I mean hitched,” she quips.

But Snow White stands in the way, forcing the malicious monarch to take a more proactive approach toward ridding the kingdom of this potential adversary.

Roberts never sells the “evil” part of this evil Queen. Collins isn’t quite right either – her eyebrows are more filled out than her personality.

Director Singh’s eccentric visuals are meant to enhance the fantasy setting but continually detract from the comedy. From an animated intro in which the characters look like porcelain statues to a fight scene involving killer marionettes, Singh has an undeniable eye for oddity. Yet all these images really do is call attention to themselves.

It’s another Grimm reminder of stylistic overkill.