(Published in Issue 9 of my publication In Retrospect)
Following Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland and Catherine Hardwicke‘s Red Riding Hood, Mirror Mirror is the latest in a series of childhood fairytale re-imaginings which is directed by Tarsem Singh. Based on the classic Brothers Grimm tale Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, the film follows The Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) who, having stolen control of a kingdom, exiles the princess Snow White (Lily Collins) into the woods and orders her to be killed. Set free and told to never return home, Snow White enlists the help of seven dwarves, determined to win back her birthright and free her Prince Charming (Armie Hammer) from The Evil Queen’s spell.
Despite being part of a rapidly growing franchise of fairytale re-tellings, Mirror Mirror is different in the sense that it is targeted at a much bigger audience. Other fairytale re-tellings so far, and much like Rupert Sanders‘ upcoming take on the Snow White story is expected to be, have been a dark twist on the Disney films we are all familiar with. Singh’s take on the Snow White is very much a family adventure, however, and is much closer to original tale by the Grimm brothers and the classic 1937 Disney version. Is that a pro or con? Well, it’s a bit of both. It may be a great happy ending film to go see with any younger relatives you may have but if you’re looking for a decent cinematic experience then I probably wouldn’t bother.
Whilst we may know the story, Mirror Mirror looks at the classic Snow White story from a slightly different perspective as the film is narrated by The Evil Queen. This bigger focus on the Queen and the use of a bad-ass bunch of dwarves rather than the comical and overly cartoon-type characters from the Disney film are two of the highlights of Mirror Mirror. From these two points alone the film does manage to do something different with the story, but other than that it doesn’t quite have the same charm.
From the director of last year’s epic Greek mythology-based action film Immortals, the film still has some great visuals and really captures a storybook feel to it. The main observation, however, is that Singh had a much better script to work from here which made all the difference. The script, from newcomers Melisa Wallack and Jason Keller, isn’t a masterpiece but it is cheesy in all the right places. It is again the dwarves that offer some of the best lines, which further solidifies their place in the film.
As for the other characters, lead star Lilly Collins is a believable and sympathetic heroine and really suits the pale-faced and red-lipped princess that she is playing. Whilst she will undeniably be smiling a lot more than Twilight star Kristen Stewart will even be able to handle in the upcoming adaptation, Collins plays a character that won’t get any reaction from anyone over the age of about eight. Her portrayal was all Princess and no edge, which for what was asked of her was perfect, but let’s face it she’s no Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, and I think that’s more what an audience or looking for these days.
Whilst you may have thought that having Julia Roberts in a lead role too would be enough to make this film stand out, unfortunately, it doesn’t. Her role here may be much better than some of her recent films, and her acting is brilliant throughout (I mean, it’s still the amazing actress from films such as Notting Hill and Pretty Woman), but it just doesn’t make that much of a difference. Even Sean Bean makes a – slightly unbelievable – appearance, but in comparison to Sander’s upcoming film which is set to star the likes of Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, it just didn’t stand a chance.
Not even the storybook romance worked that well. Armie Hammer may have looked the part (I’m pretty sure he was made for the role of Prince Charming), but his character was extremely irritable from the start. I’m not sure if it was because of the accent that perfectly fit his ‘Um-yah’ character in The Social Network or not but again, I don’t think he was the right actor to capture the attention of anyone of legal age. This is where the targeted family audience becomes a problem, as it just doesn’t relate to the majority audience.
If you have children or are under the age of 12 yourself then you will probably love this, but if you’re looking for something a bit different and with a bit more lust and gore then I would suggest waiting for Snow White and the Huntsman later this year. We also have Jack The Giant Killer and Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters to look forward to too.