Reviewer: Rissi C.
Of late, fairy-tales seem to be re-inventing themselves, in the process making a
comeback of sorts. Last year a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast appeared at
the box office. Today, there is a TV show that features a whole array of
fairy-tale characters, and there is the promise of not just a second adaptation
of Snow White this year but also the anticipation of a brand-new television
series. All of this lends credence to the excitement that audiences still love a
good fairy-tale. This movie is not epic but it is far from easily forgotten.
It all begins with the love a king (Sean Bean) has for his motherless daughter. Growing up spoiled in a happy kingdom, the young girl is groomed for when she will someday take the crown. Instead of raising the child without the care of a mother, the king re-marries but turmoil in the kingdom bids that the king leaves his throne, leaving his daughter in the care of a step-mother who assumes control as Queen (Julia Roberts). Ten years later, the king is thought dead and the princess, Snow White (Lily Collins) is all-grown-up and living under the thumb of her step-mother – a woman who acts more like a dictator than a loving mother figure. Even keeping Snow as a prisoner finds the princess still considered “fairest” of all, something that will just not do. Instead, she begins to plot not just the use of magic but the demise of her unwanted step-daughter. This comes with a new problem when the Queen also learns that she is broke.
Into this tangled web walks a handsome prince. Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) is wealthy beyond anything but first the Queen must woo his affections away from the one he believes most beautiful – Snow White. A sense of urgency makes the Queen order her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane) to take Snow into the words to remove the only thing standing between the Queen and an end to her financial worries.
Despite some of its few flaws and flubs, Mirror Mirror is a diverting, charming way to spend an afternoon, and a world I did not want to return from. If you’ve seen the trailers for this, then you will know just what kind of film this was going to be; in this case, I learned that the trailer did nothing but paint an accurate picture of its subject. Everything about this script is tongue-in-cheek. It is funny and witty, but also painfully “modern” in its dialogue at times – mostly it’s a vivid masterpiece that brings alive anyone’s imagination with color. There is wit even in the “slapstick” humor although at times, I will admit there was a small thought in the back of my mind that suggests the movie could have benefitted from some more staid humor.
All can nearly be forgiven because as we’d expect, the costuming is gorgeous! Its uniqueness seems to mesh perfectly with the comedic scope of the production. There are long duster coats, brocade jackets, stunning gowns and of course, collapsible bustles (the picture of which may even entice a laugh). I saw this with my mother who was not a fan of some costumes but overall, I thought it all very pretty. If only one thing could be said about it, there are times when it is a bit far-reaching (for example, the make-up on the guests at an outdoor wedding) or crazy but yet at the same time, the bright beauty of it is fascinating and keeps things interesting. It was fun to experience a screenplay that took the Grimm fairy-tale legend and turned it on its head in many ways.
Still there is romance, a poisonous shiny, red apple, a kiss and yes, seven loveable bandit dwarfs (just try to tell me you don’t like Half-Pint), but everything that we knew is “different.” A man is turned into a cockroach, a young girl is nearly killed by a giant flying creature that disintegrates and a woman becomes an old lady through magic. (There is also use of potions.) Danger finds Snow but yet, nothing is threatening like we once knew this to sometimes be – even Disney’s well-loved animated flick is likely darker than this latest version of the fable. If I had pick out something to be my ideal, Mirror Mirror would define it. Everything about this movie really sparkles - provided the viewer knows what the context of the film is going to be. Lily is lovely in the role, an actress, I am anticipating watch further her career. Hammer is cute but sometimes too silly to be thought a dashing princely prospect. Veteran Julia Roberts creates a queen that we can despise, yes but also find amusement in. Her vanity became her true weakness while in this story, we experience Snow coming-of-age, to learn just who she is as a person. The pretty scenery, costumes and mostly talented cast in addition to the bubbly ending makes this one of the best fantasy flick’s on-screen.
Alcott swats Snow on the behind several times, she remarks about never being kissed and the Queen is annoyed when Alcott is turned into a “puppy.”
Mild swordplay provides some action sequences but blood is never drawn.