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A misshapen 'Mirror'

"Mirror Mirror" (PG): Julia Roberts has fun playing an evil queen in this often humorous, yet rather misshapen reimagining of the classic Brothers Grimm tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The laughs come pretty far apart, yet kids 8 and older will probably like the film's tongue-in-cheek approach and appreciate the more active role this Snow White (Lily Collins) takes in her own fate. It is the nasty queen herself who narrates the tale, complete with sarcastic asides, and who communes through her mirror with a magic alter ego. Realizing how beautiful her 18-year-old stepdaughter is, the queen orders Snow White never to leave her room. But the girl sneaks out and sees how the queen has impoverished the people. She also encounters a handsome fellow (Armie Hammer) and his squire (Robert Emms) in the woods, where they've been strung upside down by robbers. The robbers are a band of dwarfs who wear accordionlike stilts to overpower their victims. The little robbers befriend Snow White and give her shelter. The queen learns Snow White is alive and leading the little men in rebellion. The dialogue is a jarring mix of modern slang and fairy-tale speak, and the narrative makes little sense, with whole, illogical scenes that seem dropped in by helicopter. Also, the costumes (by the late Eiko Ishioka) are fabulous, while the overall film looks a little cheesy.

The violence features sword and dagger fights, fisticuffs and other mayhem, but is PG-bloodless and involves more property damage than anything. Some under-8s may be scared when the queen's magical alter ego unleashes giant marionettes to destroy the little men's forest hideout. The dragonlike "beast" that lurks in the woods proves to be mostly bluster, but may frighten under-8s when it appears near the end. The queen's beauty ritual includes a facial with bird poop, and use of bees, leeches and other yucky stuff. The film features lots of mild sexual innuendo, such as references to the prince's shirtless physique. One of the little men wants to "get to know" Snow White better, and says it with a bit of a leer. Much of this could go over kids' heads.


"The Hunger Games" (PG-13): Even teens who haven't read Suzanne Collins' popular trilogy for young adults ("The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay") will be gripped by this arresting film, based on the first book. Despite the bravery and selflessness of the young heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her co-fighter Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), and the artful look of the film, it offers a dark view of human behavior and the future, which some younger teens -- and certainly preteens -- may find disturbing.Intermediate string overflow The violence is understated, but we do see bloody, painful-looking wounds, and the young "tributes" fight and kill one another with daggers, spears, arrows and even land mines. We see a former winner in a video holding the bloody brick he used to kill a rival. Katniss dispatches at least one competitor when she causes a wasps' nest to fall on a group of teen fighters. We see multiple dead bodies. In a nongraphic flashback, Katniss' father disappears in a mine explosion. There is rare, mild profanity and negligible sexual innuendo.