Despite an Academy Award and a starring role in Buster, the most important contribution Phil Collins has made thus far to the world of movies is allowing Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman to earnestly appreciate him and his music in American Psycho. (Fact fans, a humourless Whitney Houston refused to allow the use of her cover of 'The Greatest Love Of All'). Now, by way of errant sperm, Big Phil is back with a new cinematic offering as his daughter Lily takes the role of Snow White in the first of this year's Grimm reboots.
And, thanks to the most excruciating end credits song and dance number ever inflicted upon an audience attempting to leave an auditorium, Lily might just be Phil's worst film crime.
For those unfamiliar with the tale of Snow White, there's no need to fear because this is one of those 'revisionist, modern' takes on a classic where they ever so humorously reference test audiences and the like. But the essentials are still there. Pretty Snow is thrown out of the Kingdom by her Stepmother Queen and goes to live with seven dwarves, none of whom is Peter Dinklage because he has sense and talent. Actually that's not fair to the other actors - including In Bruges' Jordan Prentice - but they must, like the audience, be thinking “for fuck's sake another Snow White film!”.
The American film business has a tendency to release similar films in pairs: A Bug's Life and Antz; Armaggedon and Deep Impact; No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits. So inevitably one of each pair will be labelled 'the other film about insects/asteroids/fuck buddies'. And as with any contest there has to be a loser and regardless of the success, or otherwise, of Snow White and The Huntsman, Mirror Mirror is a big fat loser.
In what may be a first in Hollywood, a (semi) starring role seems to have been given out for skin complexion alone. Okay not 'a first' obviously, but considering her CV thus far closely resembles Satan's favourite torture flicks (The Blind Side, Priest, Abduction) Lily Collins' inclusion and possible stardom is baffling. One would assume that she was picked primarily for her looks. But the Gallagher brows between her forehead and eyes - as well as the ill-fitting corsets that make her look like she's smuggling Daddy Phil and his undeserved Oscar onto set - put paid to that theory almost instantly.
That Julia Roberts is getting kudos as the Slightly Disgruntled - as opposed to Evil - Queen may stem from the fact that she spends a good portion of the film calling Snow out on her bland and irritating demeanour. It also stems from the fact that, one would assume thanks to script revisions once her name was attached, Julia gets to be the main character. An opening and closing narration attempt to diffuse this fact yet no-one over the age of 10 will be convinced. It's the greatest example of casting dictating the movie since Johnny Depp donned knee lengths and a tricorne.
During the mid-section there are some middle-lights. A flirty sword fight brings out the best in both Collins and Armie Hammer (in a thankless task of a role) and tonally director Tarsem Singh never tries to scare the little ones with attempts at darkness. An effort to shoehorn in allegories about the 1% and the financial crisis turns a little sour when the Conservative-arousing villain turns out to be bad governing and high taxes. If the film is trying to say anything, and that's a big if, the message is more than a little muddled. To round the misery off there's a climax that centres around a forced sexual assault (it's okay if it's girl on boy?) and a cameo that will leave you shaking your head and tutting at the fall of King Neddy and his Throne payments.
If you're forced at axe-point to see one Snow White film this year, gamble on the other one. And once again a word of warning to those dragged against their will, get out as quickly as you can or be faced with this...
Fairly tame fairytale. Dismissing both the Disney axiom of “make films for the child in every adult” and the Dreamworks maxim of “make movies for the adult in every child”, Mirror Mirror leaves no one happy, bar, perhaps, Julia Roberts' agent who gets to boast their client was the lead in a Snow White movie, but wasn't playing Snow White.