Mirror Mirror is a fairly clever take on the classic Snow White story. The 106 minutes crafted by the filmmakers keeps the basic premise of the fairy tale intact yet delivers it in a campy and subtly sarcastic manner. And by doing so, the cinematic telling turns into a story fit for adults, which manages to conjure up all the wonderment from when they were just kids hearing this for the first time. Plus, today’s kiddies will be lured into this as soon as the seven dwarfs make their energetic entrance.
Now even though the phenomenal production-value is as detailed as the Magic Kingdom theme park…in the snow, the tone is leaning more towards the fantasy tales that aren’t so cookie-cutter like. There could be a comparison to the most recent Alice in Wonderland flick by Tim Burton, but this telling is considerably more playful than Burton’s gloomy vision of Wonderland. Evidence of this is realized within the performers’ demeanor as they bring their snarky characters to life. Lily Collins plays Snow White and channels the tenderness of the character throughout; yet isn’t opposed to shaking things up a bit when bonding with the dwarfs out in the woods after being banished from the castle by her evil stepmother Queen (Julia Roberts). The dwarfs do not have the personified nicknames from the storybook. Instead, they carry real names and are portrayed as innovative thieves in the same vein as the merry men of Robin Hood.
Also playing a key role is Armie Hammer as the handsome prince. He travels to meet up with the two-faced Queen, who is stressing out because her magic mirror alerts the cocky liege that she is no longer the fairest of them all, since Snow White is all grown up now. So unless she marries a man with wealth and finds a way to banish Snow White, she will lose her control along with her powers that have enabled her to continue her questionable reign over a poor and struggling kingdom.
Julia Roberts is adequate as the facetious Queen but you (or maybe just me) get the feeling that many other actresses could have brought more out of the role. Her shtick kind of felt tired toward the end but hey…at least we didn’t have to hear that typical annoying laugh of hers; although she did have trouble keeping a straight face when her physically animated co-stars kicked it up a notch (something to look for). Sticking with the performances, the dwarfs improve greatly in the comic-relief department as the flick rolls on. Armie Hammer proves that he’s got the range to hang around in Hollywood for some time; and he also can take up the career mantle Brendan Fraser jumped on years ago in taking on these dorky characters (The Mummy, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Bedazzled, etc.). Finally, Nathan Lane contributes as the conflicted royal servant to the Queen and his flamboyant delivery always registers a smile.
Overall, Mirror Mirror is worth gazing upon the entire way through. Aside from the cinematic landscape shots, this encompasses an aesthetic of a well-produced stage play; leading this to be one of the more creative quasi-spoof fairy tale pieces to come out in the last few years. And the quiet messages and/or values it touches upon about being content with what you have as a person has the ability stimulate the mind ever so slightly. In the end, no matter what your age, from a physical aspect, this does remind one of the first time you experienced the charismatic world of the fairy tale…a pleasant and easy-going listen.
Mirror Mirror is rated PG (for Pure Goodness) and opens in the Tampa Bay market on Friday.