Watch: Julia Roberts anchors the unintentional nightmare of the ‘Mirror, Mirror’ trailer

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest trailer of them all?

Fair question to ask now with the release of Relativity Media’s first peek at their comic fantasy “Mirror Mirror,” which finds itself in direct conflict with the recently-released first trailer for “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a far more sober-minded take on fairy-tale reality.

Today’s trailer is interesting, especially in light of the idea that distributor Relativity Media is dealing with the morning-after fallout from the release of “Immortals,” their big Greek mythology-as-modern-action-movie that was also directed by Tarsem Singh, who Relativity has bet big on.  The idea that they had him direct another fantasy so quickly, even before “Immortals” was in theaters, suggests that Relativity really liked what they saw.  I wasn’t able to make it to “Immortals” before it came out, and it’s been a crazy few days since then, so I have no idea how the film came together.  I know the overall critical reaction hasn’t been particularly kind, and I’ve certainly had both great (“The Fall”) and not-so-great (“The Cell”) reactions to Tarsem’s previous films, so I can see how a movie by him might be divisive.

If I’m being honest, though, my reaction to the “Mirror Mirror” trailer is a bit of a recoil, and I’m frankly startled by how tone-deaf it seems to be.  Whimsy is a hard thing to pull off for anyone, and Tarsem’s never really exhibited any inclination towards it in his previous work.  It’s a choice that will distinguish it from the dark and violent world suggested by the “Snow White and the Huntsman” trailer, but I’m not sure who the film is aimed at.  When you have jokes as obvious and ham-handed as the ones in this trailer, it feels very lowest common denominator, and whatever you want to say about Tarsem’s films before now, that has not been the phrase I’d used to describe them.

Julia Roberts, like Charlize Theron, gets most of the screen time in this trailer, and it’s obvious that both movies cast their biggest names in the roles of the Evil Queen.  Where Theron is trying to play it scary and dark, it looks like Julia Roberts has gone the other direction completely.  The entire thing feels like an overt wink, mugging for the camera, self-awareness cranked all the way up, and it’s hard to sit through even two minutes of this.  Worse than Roberts, though, is Armie Hammer, who is starting to scare me a little bit.  Has it really only been a year since his breakthrough in “The Social Network”?  He was terribly miscast in “J. Edgar,” and buried under a deeply creepy make-up job, and he seems sort of awkward and embarrassing in the love potion scene glimpsed here.  It’s starting to feel more and more like “The Lone Ranger” is really important to the notion of whether or not he’s going to last as a leading man.

Frankly, I’m confused by this sudden glut of fairy tale films, and when the choices are either “Snow White and the Huntsman” or “Mirror Mirror,” I’m not sure there’s a correct answer.  What I do know is that I thought this trailer was a terrible introduction to the movie, and I’d love for you guys to rate it as well.

“Mirror Mirror” arrives in theaters March 16, 2012.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” arrives in theaters June 1, 2012.