Whether you love them or not there is something enduring about fairy tales, those timeless short stories that are told and retold from generation to generation. Few come more famous than Snow White, who has a big year ahead of her. In June, audiences will see her remade into a warrior princess for Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman. Before that however, director Tarsem Singh (Immortals) gets first bite of the apple in Mirror Mirror, perhaps the more traditional retelling of the two but not without its share of twists.
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Whilst much of the original tale remains, the liberties that have been taken with the story work well as opposed to being ill-advised. The tone is set quickly and elegantly with some wonderfully sarcastic narration from Julia Roberts’ evil queen filling us in on events. The Queen has seized control of the Kingdom following the King’s mysterious disappearance and Snow White has been left to languish in the Palace, hidden away from the world. Unfortunately for the Queen, financial troubles are brewing due to her expensive lifestyle of parties and bizarre treatments and she finds herself seeking a wealthy man to marry.
On her 18th birthday (because she clearly hadn’t minded for 17 years!), Snow White sneaks out of the Palace so she can see her Kingdom for herself. Along the way, she befriends Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), who very quickly becomes entranced with our fair princess. Alas, the Queen wants him for herself, and in her jealousy she banishes Snow White to the woods. There, she finds seven rebellious dwarves who aid her in her quest to take back her Kingdom.
Mirror Mirror has been marketed as a family-friendly film and for the most part it succeeds in this endeavour. The blend of adult humour – which includes an enjoyable amount of fairy-tale satire – and more child-friendly quips works well. That’s not to say that the comedy always hits its mark: occasionally the script ventures into the bizarre, which doesn’t help the film or its performers. When Prince Alcott is drugged by ‘puppy-love’ potion for example, the subsequent scenes see an overacting Hammer licking Roberts’ face. With that said, this comprises only a small amount of the film, and audiences will likely be appeased by the predominantly strong scriptwriting.
The characters who will satisfy all age groups most effectively are the seven dwarves, not the Sneezy and co we’re all familiar with; rather, these dwarves are bandits who steal from the rich for themselves. It’s entertaining to watch their interactions with Snow White, and the themes which are realized through them work well, even if they are a little too exaggerated.
Tarsem Singh has built up a reputation for his impressive visual style, and Mirror Mirror is no exception; humongous, lavish dresses feature heavily amongst the backdrop of a gloriously realised kingdom befitting of the Snow White fairy tale.
Flaunting those dresses is the villainous Queen played by the fantastic Julia Roberts, and her snarky exchanges with Prince Alcott, her servant Brighton – played with gusto by Nathan Lane –, and even herself are sure to derive many laughs. Additionally, Collins convinces as both the innocent, repressed young Princess and the strong woman she blossoms into during the course of the 106 minute run time.
“Any Last Words?” Mirror Mirror is a smart and often funny retelling of the classic fairy tale, if at times a tad overblown. The fairest Snow White film of the year? We’ll see…
Mirror Mirror is out NOW. Check out the trailer below:
Starring | Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Sean Bean and Nathan Lane.
Director | Tarsem Singh Certificate | PG Run Time | 1 hour 35 minutes