The Gist: A colorful retelling of the classic tale, where the Evil Queen plans on ridding herself of financial woes by marrying the prince while Snow White trains with the dwarfs to fight to take back her kingdom.
First Impressions: There is no doubt that the visually inspiring sets and costumes will be breathtaking. The humor should be solid without wavering into corny territory, as can sometimes be the case with PG rated comedies. Will the cast and story be enough to fill in the rest while setting the film apart from becoming just another Snow White movie?
Director Tarsem Singh puts a spin on the Snow White story in Mirror Mirror, much of which works well with modern audiences while certain disappointments may have been beyond control.
The film begins with an introduction by the Queen (Julia Roberts) alongside stunning animation similar to the Deathly Hallows tale of Harry Potter. It highlights the story of how the King (Sean Bean) fell in love with her but went missing after going into the dark forest, leaving his daughter Snow (Lily Collins) and the kingdom under the Queen’s reign. Years later, the “rebellious” Snow turns eighteen and leaves the castle to learn about the state of the kingdom, meanwhile freeing Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who was ambushed by seven thieves of short stature. And it is love at first sight. When the Queen learns of the Prince’s money and power, she plots to marry him and be rid of Snow. Though the servant, Brighton (Nathan Lane), is enlisted to kill Snow, he sets her free and she joins up with the seven thieves who inspire her to fight back.
The magnificent sets by Jille Azis and Paul Hotte, as well as whimsical costumes by the late Eiko Ishioka, truly created a fantasy world. The audience is fully brought into Singh’s imagination, from the poverty of the villagers, to the royal elegance of the palace, to the dark and enchanted world beyond the mirror. The variations of instruments used also kept pace with the locations as well as action.
On one hand, casting could have pushed for stronger actors, namely with the title character. While Collins looked the part and may have been capable on some basic levels, she often came across as too “Disney” and lost much realistic believability with her emotion-filled recital of nearly every line. This left Roberts to pick up the pieces. Her “real housewives” persona hit the nail on the head in the humor department, and her exchanges with Lane were cleverly acted. Yet her wavering accent distracted from her overall performance. Surprisingly, Hammer took the lead in not just authenticity, but humor on multiple levels as well.
For what Mirror Mirror is, it held interest and kept the laughs going throughout by employing modern humor with old school visual and physical comedy, making it a cute watch for today’s audiences.
One Positive Critique: The late Eiko Ishioka’s visually inspiring costumes captured the eye within each shot. Not only were the intricate fabrics and designs of the women’s costumes beautiful, but the thieves’ masks and stilts transformed the actors. Notably, Lane as Brighton jokingly comments on his royal garments as “these old rags.”
Did you catch that? In the forest, as the Prince is bidding farewell to Snow for the first time, he magically switches from standing on the left side of his companion to the right. Guess the editing department missed that one.
This film was seen at the AMC in Owings Mills. You can see Mirror, Mirror at some of the Best Baltimore theaters including the AMC in White Marsh and the Cinemark Egyptian in Anne Arundel.