Mirror mirror on the wall, is this take on the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ the fairest of them all? Read our review of Mirror Mirror after the jump.
In Tarsem Singh’s take on the classic Grimm fairytale, we meet Snow White (Lily Colins), who has spent much of her life imprisoned in the castle by her evil stepmother, the Queen (Julia Roberts). The queen has ruled the kingdom with no regard for its residents and only seeks to find eternal beauty and wealth for herself. Snow sneaks out of the castle on her 18th birthday to see what pain and poverty the Queen has inflicted on her father’s once grand kingdom, and she is appalled.
After returning to the Castle, she defies the Queen and sneaks into a grand ball which the Queen has arranged to impress a prince. After seeing the Prince only has eyes for Snow, the Queen banishes her and sentences her to be killed in the woods. However, our protagonist escapes death, and is reluctantly taken in by a group of rebels. From here it’s a battle of good vs. evil, Snow vs. the Queen, and – of course – a battle for love.
This take on the Snow White fairytale is squarely aimed at family viewing. It’s cartoonish in its appearance, PG with its jokes, and it doesn’t deviate too much from the original story. While we appreciate that the film is aimed at families and younger viewers, it fails to be the magical adventurous tale that it would very much like to believe it is.
Julia Roberts is really miss-cast in this role. While she nails some of the scenes, for the most part her comedic timing was really off and she just felt like she was ACTING. We can’t help but think someone slightly older and a bit more subtle would have worked better in this role. Armie Hammer has clearly studied at the school of one-dimensional cartoon princes, and he adds absolutely nothing to his extremely limp character. He proved he was a fantastic actor in The Social Network, but there is none of that talent on display here. Nathan Lane is fine doing what Nathan Lane always does. Lily Colins is actually quite well-cast. She oozes sweetness and manages to get some good comedic moments. It’s a pity she didn’t have better material to work with. Her character is shallow, boring and from a time long long past.
The shining star in the film are the dwarfs. They are funny, charming, have a lot of heart, and give the best comedic moments in the film. The best laughs came when they were on screen being the devious group of rebels that they are so proud of being. Sadly, even the jokes with the dwarfs get old. Just because something is funny doesn’t mean it should be repeated several times.
The dialogue in this film is so cringe-worthy that it caused us to groan out loud. It’s impressive that the cast managed to keep a straight face while delivering it. There was an opportunity here to give Snow White a bit more of a personality and perhaps make her a stronger female character, but apart from one ridiculous nod at happy endings and “focus groups” she is the same character she has been in the many incarnations of this story before. It is quite disappointing they didn’t modernise her even just a little. Collins certainly had the ability to add some more spunk to the character.
On the positive side the make-up and costumes are very detailed and beautifully crafted. The gowns worn by the Queen are particularly lavish and over-the-top. There was a lot of detail paid to the sets in the castle. The ball scene was very impressive, with many people in gorgeous costumes dancing in a stunning ballroom. Younger viewers will no doubt be swept up by the magic of that scene. The film is paced well, and although we didn’t enjoy the film we were never bored by it.
Overall, Mirror Mirror is a faithful adaptation of the Snow White story that adds absolutely nothing new or modern. It lacks the heart, charm, and geniue magic to become an enduring classic.
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer(s): Melisa Wallack & Jason Keller (screenplay), Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm (original story)
Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer
Runtime: 106 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: March 29th 2012