The fairy-tale movie is trending, with promise of all sorts of bandwagoning rubbish to come, but Mirror Mirror, one of 2012's two Snow White films, is an enjoyable exception. This is because director Tarsem Singh is no mere follower, having done extravagant work in the realm of pure fantasy for some time — most successfully in 2006's feverish bedtime story, The Fall. Here, the familiar tale is retold with concessions to feminist self-determination and camp humor, bending it without infringing on its basic beauty. The widowed evil queen (Julia Roberts) is an aging diva, spurred to great bitchiness by the eclipsing beauty of her loathed stepdaughter, Snow White (Lily Collins). The queen's creeping jealousy turns homicidal with the arrival of a marriageable prince (Armie Hammer) in her oppressed, eternally snowbound kingdom, who falls for Snow instead of the queen. Singh can always be counted on for his opulent imagination, and this is no exception — the queen's court is a mishmash of royal grandiosities, Venice-meets-Louis XV-meets-luxury hotel lobby. The director also reveals a heretofore unexplored knack for broad comedy in the patter between Roberts and Nathan Lane's lickspittle valet, with the Seven Dwarfs performers proving America's surfeit of fine little-person actors.
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