Fairy Tale Adaptations

Let’s come right out with it: Mirror Mirror is a disaster; a jokey, stagy bomb that sputters around like the worst faux-clever high school play you’ve ever seen before it mercifully comes to an end. After 10 minutes, I’d had enough. By the time Armie Hammer licks Julia Roberts’s face, I envied the old lady in Airplane! who hanged herself rather than listen to the rest of Ted Striker’s story. There’s nothing worse than a movie featuring material that everyone involved clearly found hilarious, forgetting to let us in on the joke. Director Tarsem Singh (The Fall) is a great visual stylist, but he’s the wrong director for a campy Snow White rehash that’d barely qualify for ABC Family. The movie looks like a grandiose pageant, boasting the filmmaker’s trademark outsized visual compositions and some ridiculous costumes, but it’s tongue-in-cheek slop, with a bunch of phoned-in dramatics and sprinklings of vaudevillian humor that would have been dated during the vaudeville days. Roberts delivers an annoyingly self-absorbed turn as the evil Queen, who appoints minion Brighton (Nathan Lane, giving the exact performance you’d expect) to kill her step daughter Snow White (Lily Collins), the famed “fairest of them all.” A proud young woman, Snow naturally escapes her fate, finding her way to the seven dwarfs in the process. Together, they engage in banditry and plot to take back the kingdom, while winning over a hopelessly slow-witted handsome prince (Hammer) in the process.

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Red Riding Hood is the single most confusing movie-going experience of the last decade. The movie itself is not confusing. No, no. Far from it. The movie itself is about as straightforward as it gets. The characters all say either exactly what’s happening or exactly what’s on their minds pretty much at all times. It’s the few moments of pure storytelling inspiration, cliche-busting plot turns, and great performances amidst a sea of terrible that’s completely baffling. How can things that great be involved in something so awful?

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