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David Poland

By David Poland

Review-ish: Mirror Mirror

I don’t have much to say.

Eiko Ishioka was a genius and her presence in this film is the one true redeeming value. So buy the picture book.

This unfunny, uncharming 5 mile per hour fender bender had a lot of elements that worked. The actors are trying hard – the dwarves are amazingly effective actors as a group… never get to see that in movies – the images by Tarsem are imaginative and well done, and the story really wants to charm you to within an inch of your Disney memories.

However, Tarsem doesn’t know how to shoot or edit comedy. Lily Collins is beautiful, but not a powerful on-screen presence. Armie Hammer is working his ass off… but is left hanging over and over again.

But it’s really the fault of the screenplay. It’s not funny enough to be a strong comedy, not smart enough to play it for adults and kids as it seems to want to, and not clear enough about what kind of movie it wants to be. So the speed and rhythm of the movie changes from scene to scene – sometimes during a scene – so that you never really get the feel of clear forward movement.

I was really trying to go with the film. I like Tarsem’s eye. Julia Roberts seemed to be having fun. LOVED the dwarves, especially Mark Povinelli, who felt to me like he has the ability to do non-dwarf roles and blend, much as Peter Dinklage has.

But no.

Roberts had her best moment at the very end of the film… though the scene felt like so much of an afterthought that it was painful to see something strong happen and then get thrown away. There is another surprise at the end that feels like the producers and Julia got left hanging by George Clooney and then went for a great actor who is 100% wrong for the role even though he recently was in a hit involving royalty.

You can’t be really angry at this film. It’s so lightweight and trying so hard to please that you just want to pet its head and feed it before it gets hit by a car.

I’d pay to see the Theron Snow White trailer before paying to see this thing again.

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9 Responses to “Review-ish: Mirror Mirror”

  1. film fanatic says:

    It DOES look striking, but the second I saw that trailer with the “Snow White? SNOW WAY!!” line, I knew this would be torture. Wild horses couldn’t drag me to see this.

  2. Paul D/Stella says:

    It looks like a live action Happily N’Ever After.

  3. jesse says:

    film fanatic, that line, and the other really awful joke in the trailer (“say hello to my little friend!”) aren’t actually in the movie. I was afraid it would be a live-action Shrek clone, all faux-snark and pseudo-hip dialogue, but I was happily surprised to find it more akin to one of those Fractured Fairytale segments on the old Rocky & Bullwinkle show — lightly irreverent and amusing, not trying to be devastatingly satirical.

    I don’t think it’s a case of Tarsem not knowing how to shoot comedy, because the movie is never really pitched as an all-out farce. It’s more of a fairy tale with some silly asides in the dialogue. There aren’t comic set pieces that require great directorial timing. Just lots of flashes of humor that I found surprisingly amusing (especially after those cheesy lines in the trailer).

    That said, it did leave me unsure of Tarsem’s ability to really cut together a strong sequence, versus set up striking images and let actors be charming. I loved The Fall, but I felt similarly about that one: there are lots of great images in that movie but they don’t always come together into something that really moves. Tarsem seems interested in the IDEA of storytelling but isn’t always especially smooth or fleet in telling stories himself.

    It’s a fun movie, though. I’d imagine slightly older kids (like the 8-12 crowd, maybe more than the 5-7-year-olds) would enjoy it — and I, a 31-year-old dude, did too.

    A longer review, if anyone’s interested:

  4. Lowell says:

    “It’s the fault of the screenplay.” I see this in a lot of film reviews, and I’m always puzzled by it. Do you mean the concept? Or did you read the screenplay? I’m really not trying to be cute here. It’s just… blaming the screenwriter when 400 other hands have helped create what you see always seems odd to me. I’d like to know what it means to you.

    Thank you,
    Frustrated Screenwriter

  5. Krillian says:

    Reminds me of Whedon’s lament of Alien Resurrection. “Yeah, that was my screenplay but they made every wrong choice possible.”

  6. LYT says:

    Blaming the screenPLAY isn’t necessarily blaming the screenWRITER. The final screenplay used to shoot off of, as we all know, is frequently not exactly what the writer came up with. But it is a screenplay.

    What’s weird is when people want to give props to the “screenplay” for a Christopher Guest or Mike Leigh movie, where it’s clear that a lot was improvised.

  7. anghus says:

    i didnt hate Mirror Mirror. And i think for a movie aimed at kids who don’t have fully developed brains that’s a best case scenario.

    I still think it was a better choice than Wrath of the Titans. Zero interest.

  8. David Poland says:

    I didn’t HATE Mirror Mirror either. Just very disappointed by all the things it failed to do at a high level.

  9. SamLowry says:

    I wonder what passes as a workable screenplay.

    It reminds me of the story Owen Wilson told in the days before his crack-up that he kept getting screenplays that were supposedly finished and supposedly approved by many folks along the line that ended each bit of banter he would participate in with “and then Owen Wilson says something funny.” Because this hack writer didn’t realize that the funny lines uttered by Wilson in all those other funny movies were written by writers who were DOING THEIR JOB.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon