‘Mirror Mirror,’ a comedic take on Snow White, stars Julia Roberts as The Queen, Lily Collins as Snow White, and Armie Hammer as Prince Alcott. Nathan Lane plays Brighton, The Queen’s servant and the one tasked to kill Snow. The seven dwarves are not happy-go-lucky miners, but are outcasts, bandits, and thieves played by Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, and Ronald Lee Clark.
The Queen opens the movie by telling us the back story of Snow White: her birth, mother’s death, happy childhood, father’s remarriage, and father’s death. And this back story is told in the most creative graphics of almost porcelain like figures that flows in and out of the screen. The Queen catches up the audience to the present, where she rules a bankrupt kingdom and Snow is confined to her room, and insists that this movie is her story. And it practically is.
Roberts shines the most as The Queen. Not only is she beautiful, she knows how to be cruel and snarky in the most regal way. The comedy isn’t just with the funny one-liners, but in the humanity that Roberts brought to The Queen, making her a woman desperately holding on to her fleeting youth. She seems like many women today that subject themselves to various beauty treatments, which is also portrayed in the movie, maybe a commentary, definitely too funny. The Queen doesn’t seem so evil after all, until she says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” and steps into an alternate world where she speaks with the mirror, a reflection of herself constantly warning her about the price of using magic.
Like many aspects of this movie, the evilness is unique and fantastical with almost Tim Burton-esque qualities. Watch out for The Beast, which looks a lot like a Chinese dragon. Also keep an eye out for The Mirror’s use of marionettes, a dark magic that won’t give children nightmares but interesting enough to grab older audiences’ attentions.
Also fantastical and attention grabbing are the costumes and wardrobe. They are beautiful, colorful, and extravagant for the rich and the gentry, and appropriately drab and poor for the overtaxed commoners. The cleverest of the costumes are the thieving dwarves’ jumping stilts that afford them the advantage over their rich victims, who end up without gold and without clothes.
That’s a running joke in the movie, but not a tiring one since Prince Alcott is a repeat victim. Hammer has the looks down for the prince, and successfully portrays an imperfect prince, a breath of fresh air that allows room for Snow to become a heroine. The Prince is a little arrogant and is always losing his battles (and his clothes), but deep down he has the right heart.
So do the rebellious seven dwarves. They also have a lot of the comedy dispersed between them, from the always hungry Grub (Gnoffo) to the love seeking, Snow White crushing Half Pint (Povinelli). They give Snow shelter and teach her how to fight.
Of the characters, Collins was given the least comedic parts. Even Brighton is funnier than Snow. It is hardly Collins’ fault, but there were parts where she could have been funnier. She could have milked them more. It wouldn’t have hurt the movie because even though there were a lot of funny and a lot of pretty in the movie, there was also shallowness to it.
There isn’t a lot of realism, but that’s to be expected. Even from the trailers, we could see that the movie never tries to pass off a reality or darkness to its Snow White interpretation, except for saying, “The Snow White legend comes alive.” It comes alive because of the living actors, but it is still a story in a land far, far away.
Therefore, the audiences are never plunged to the depths of the story because the movie doesn’t go there. It’s like the movie is reigned in so it doesn’t go too far. Too bad, because there is so much potential if more freedom and depth was given in creating the fantastical and darker elements of the movie. Instead, the shallowness in the movie makes it appropriate for children, but still entertaining enough for adults.