Review: Mirror Mirror
PLOT: After taking over the kingdom when her latest husband is killed, The Queen raises his beautiful daughter Snow White, hidden from the world. Once Snow is old enough, she ventures out into the wild without permission. There she finds poverty and sadness, none of that singing and dancing that happened when her father was in charge. Upon the beautiful princess’ return, she confronts her stepmother and is soon banished to the woods for execution where she luckily escapes. On her adventures she meets a handsome prince and of course, seven dwarves and all sorts of magic happens along the way… fun for the whole family?
MIRROR MIRROR is the latest feature which hopes to give new life to a famous fable. One thing it has going for it is the keen eye of director Tarsem Singh who has made some captivating features including THE CELL and THE FALL. And visually this re-telling of “Snow White” is no exception. MIRROR displays some eye popping set designs and costumes, aided by vibrant and beautiful colors. Each sequence involving the future telling mirror is wonderfully wild, a real visual treat. This is a storybook brought to life that will most assuredly please little girls longing for a modern day fairy tale. That’s well and good but what about everybody else?
Julia Roberts plays the Queen. She certainly relishes taking on the wicked stepmother who does away with Snow’s kingly father in hopes to make the land her own. Ms. Roberts takes the fanciful aspect and injects a sometimes sly sense of humor. Yet if the script didn’t remind us, you’d have a hard time believing she is all that wicked. Even when she has her “reflection” use magic to try and destroy her stepdaughter, it seems playful as opposed to evil. Robert’s Queen is entirely too likable, even when she makes her little jabs at the beauteous White. She certainly didn’t offer the slightest bit of darkness which might have made her a full-fledged villain.
This is Julia Roberts show, even if it is about the lovely Snow White (Lily Collins). The ivory skinned, black haired beauty plays up the innocence well. She longs for her father, the King (Sean Bean), who the Queen sent to the woods only to never return again. When Snow White breaks the rules and makes her way into their kingdom to find its people sick in poverty and overly taxed, she confronts her stepmother. Furious (I think), the Queen sends the girl to her death in the dark woods where a rumored beast will kill all those who dare to enter. Oh yes, there is a Prince as well – a frequently shirtless Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) - who is extremely wealthy. Only he can save the kingdom by marrying The Queen - with the help of a spell driving him to love her royal evilness. Yet true love beckons the dashing prince who has fallen for the fairest of them all.
As charming as it could be it seems like Singh played it at bit safe. The magic on screen is not nearly as spectacular as one would hope. This is the kind of story which would be breathtaking to disappear into. Sure it is stylish and clever – sometimes too clever – and Collins is pleasantly fresh as the innocent princess looking to break free from societies chains… a good old-fashioned feminist? Even if her transition to a sort of ass kicker is completely ridiculous, the young actress pulls it off nicely. As far as Roberts and Hammer go, they do well enough. Yet the humor overload wears thin as does the less than stellar story which has wrapped itself around this big screen fantasy.
Even with its flaws, MIRROR MIRROR is appealing enough to entertain. There are moments that shine, including a couple of exciting sword fights and of course the seven scene-stealing dwarfs. Sure they are written as stereotypes, but you can’t help but smile when Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), Half-Pint (Mark Povinelli), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno), Butcher (Martin Klebba) and Chuckles (Ronald Lee Clark) share the stage with the lovely White. MIRROR MIRROR is a PG rated fluffy family film with magic, royalty, a silly social message and happy ever afters’ amiable enough for a matinee.