You know that Hollywood is completely out of usable scripts - or what the perceive as usable scripts - when the choose to revive the fairy tales. After the success of the animated farce "Shrek" the studios realized that there was gold in those old stories.


This year two studios - Relativity and Universal - are releasing two versions of the Grimm tale about Snow White. Relativity won the release race with "Mirror Mirror" with Julia Roberts and Lily Collins. This is the more child friendly version wheres "Snow White and the Huntsman" looks to be more along the lines of the original story.


And that's something that needs to be mentioned; the original Grimm stories were rather... grim. They, like Mother Goose< were graphic and generally were targeted toward adults more than children. Those fables targeted toward children, generally had a message of dire warning for disobedient children. By the time the tales made it to U.S. shores they had been dummied down and softened - even happy.

Tarsem Singh directed "Mirror Mirror" in the American sense more than the European sense. This is as fluffy as it can get and not be called Disney. The story follows the original Grimm tale about a king and his wife who have a lovely baby daughter they named Snow White. The king's wife died during childbirth leaving him to raise Snow White by himself.


At the time the kingdom is prosperous, though there is never any indication why it is so wealthy, but no one wokrs and everyone spends their days singing and dancing. Tat is until the king - who is now lonely and yearning female companionship - suddenly falls for a beautiful woman. He quickly marries her and makes her his queen. It's about this time that the kingdom fell upon hard times, so the king road off to find out what was wrong and was never heard from again.


Now the queen (Roberts) has control of the kingdom and Snow White whom she despises. She banishes White to her room and sucks the kingdom dry of money to finance her lavish parties staged by her valet Brighton (Nathan Lane). However, things happen and she instructs Brighton to take White to the woods and kill her. He almost does what she says, instead sparing her.


Yada, yada, yada... White goes to live with the dwarfs, who are far from fun. Instead, they are thieves and cutthroats with interesting names like Napoleon, Half Pint, Grub, Grimm, Wolf, Butcher, and Chuckles. They teach her the ways of a thief, sorta and... oh a prince (Armie Hammer) comes along and well... you know the rest.

To a certain degree, "Mirror Mirror" remains fairly true to the Grimm story with fluff. Lots of fluff. Lots of annoying fluff.


Singh's previous works include the lusciously filmed "The Fall", the interestingly filmed (but also luscious) "The Cell" and the very recent and equally lusciously filmed "The Immortals". Needless to say, his films are eaasy to spot because the colors are deep and vibrant - almost surreal. Truely "The Fall" was in itself a fairy tale. "Mirror Mirror" reflects (no pun intended) that continued vibrancy; it looks like a fairy tale should - fanciful and colorful.


However, the screenplay is another story. With what are suppose to be comical lines falling like lead balloons. Armie hammer, who is coming off two stellar performances in "The Social Network" and "J. Edgar", is little more than a buffoon. It seems the idea was to mimic James Marsden's Prince Edward role from "Enchanted" (2007). He fails miserably as you sit there hoping agains hope that he would die a thousand deaths. Particularly painful was a period in which he has the personality of a puppy.


Lily Collins is cute, or at least was cute in "The Blindside" as the almost invisible sister, but she's no Snow White. She doesn't compare to Julia Roberts lest she is fairer. That leaves the film up to Roberts to support and although she gives it her best, she just doesn't have the character to be the evil queen. Michelle Pfeiffer was a much better evil witch in "Stardust" with a more believable sense of desperation for eternal beauty.


The bright spots are Nathan Lane's Brighten and the dwarfs played by veteran actors Jordan Prentice, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn and others. They are energetic and hilarious as they provide the foil to the bad guys and themselves.


For a film targeted toward children, there were far too many long quiet periods during the screening - that is no one was laughing though the audience was full of kids.


"Mirror Mirror" is a visually stunning but otherwise empty film; it's a good idea wasted on a bad script. Though it looks like a fairy tale should, it plays like the ogres ate the screenplay.   -- GEOFF BURTON