Did Julia Roberts learn nothing from Hook? The last time she played a pantomime character it was a disaster and now she is the Evil Queen in this retelling/trashing of Snow White.

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It wants to be a live action Shrek with everyone adopting contemporary speech and attitudes, and Snow White (Lily Collins) becoming a Robin Hood figure fighting for justice with the seven dwarves as her merry men.

It’s an idea, I suppose – and might have looked alright on paper – but within moments of the film starting you can see how it’s going to drag on.

The re-jigging of the fairytale has no thought behind it other than the desire to squeeze a bit more mileage out of familiar material. Though the dwarves (who have names like Napoleon, Half Pint and Wolf and are more Time Bandits than Disney) and Nathan Lane as the Queen’s chief flunky are fun, it doesn’t have enough laughs.

Such a smart Alec approach robs the tale of most of its charm.

Spielberg couldn’t get Hook to fly; Mirror Mirror employs the lesser but still notable talents of Tarsem Singh. Tarsem is stuck in the bind of the Flawed Visionary Director who has found that his own conception of a good film (The Cell, The Fall) can’t find an audience and is now forced to work with other people’s conceptions of a good film.

This is not necessarily a bad thing – last year’s gladiator romp Immortals was a delirious, visually arresting entertainment.

Mirror Mirror is colourful but drably so and none of the visual ideas spark into any kind of life.

MIRROR MIRROR (PG)

Director: Tarsem Singh

Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Danny Woodburn and Jordan Prentice

Length: 106 mins

**

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