Call me crazy, but I got a hankering to see Tarsem Singh's Mirror, Mirror before it left the theatres. I've never been disappointed in his visual style...just in the scriptwork (and I'm not too sure where the fault lies in that).
Mirror, Mirror is no different. Shot composition is excellent. The use of color made the screen seem like Technicolor made new - bright, showy tones for the Queen's court, warm browns and greens for the dwarves' home. The costume design, courtesy of the late Eiko Ishioka (her last movie), was fanciful and character-appropriate. The music - provided by one of my favorite film composers, Alan Menken - brought the fairy-tale charm. The prologue (voice-over aside) could stand on it's own as a short animated film: ceramic puppetwork that acts out the backstory.
And then there's the script and dialogue work.
This is marketed as a children's movie. I get it. But couldn't Mare Winningham get better dialogue than what she does (and a better character name - Baker Margaret? Is she the lady's maid, too?)? And couldn't Nathan Lane avoid overtly Nathan Lane lines like "When I was a cockroach a grasshopper tried to take advantage of me!" Funny...but out of place in this movie. Armie Hammer suffers from having almost nothing to do except have Julia Roberts fawn over his naked chest (and speaking of that, there were really young kids in my audience and they got super bored during the sexual tension scenes - I was snickering because it was so contrived).
The dialogue and accents were all over the map. If you're going to build a world, make it believable to some extent. You can't have Julia Roberts attempting a mid-Atlantic/soft English accent, Armie Hammer as himself (Midwest US), Nathan Lane as himself (Timon the Meerkat all the way), the dwarves all sound like they're from New York, and Lily Collins sounds nothing like her father (who is played by Sean Bean using his own North Yorkshire accent). And the costumes are vaguely French mid-eighteenth century.
Mirror, Mirror also relies way too heavily on Chekhov's Gun: "If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act." The audience is told in the prologue voice-over (done by Julia Roberts) that we must remember that the King gives Snow his dagger, it will be important later. There's also overt shots of a certain necklace....this all ties in with the casting: don't advertise that Sean Bean is the King, then keep him out of the action until the last FIVE MINUTES of the film....I had the outcome of the film called once the live action started. Sorta boring then. And kids aren't that stupid.
1. Paranorman - eh, still not impressed.
2. Three Stooges - No. Just....no. Ugh.
3. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - this does look cute (and great line in the trailer: You can't drive a car, only people and penguins!)
4. Pirates: Band of Misfits - meh, still not interested
5. Dark Shadows - this looks stupid and I don't remember the TV show as being stupid