- Lily Collins as Snow White
- Julia Roberts as The Queen
- Armie Hammer as Prince Alcott
- Nathan Lane as Brighton
- Sean Bean as The King
A visually splendid but somewhat lacking retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, Mirror, Mirror is opulent to look at but not a wholly successful update. It is a movie of both positives and negatives, yet this comedy/fantasy still leaves you somewhat deflated after watching.
Once upon a time, we see that a young princess by the name of Snow White was born, though her mother died in childbirth. Her grieving father the King married a most beautiful woman, before he mysteriously vanished in the dark forest and was presumed dead. The beautiful yet insecure Queen takes guardianship over Snow White and began to show her true colours by locking her away from the outside world out of fear that her beauty will outshine hers. Her reasoning for this is her magic mirror, which informs her that her beauty will be surpassed by Snow White. The envious Queen has also left the kingdom destitute as a result of her increasing vanity. She is advised to seek out a rich husband and she finds an ideal candidate in the form of the hapless but dashing Prince Alcott. The problem is that he is besotted with the beautiful and innocent Snow White. Enraged, she sends her servant Brighton out into the forest to kill her. Brighton can’t go through with it and lets the young girl escape deep into the forest. There she is taken in by a group of dwarf bandits, who steal what they can from people crossing through the woods. Exiled by the Queen, the seven bandits begin to teach Snow White the tricks of their trade, helping her to grow stronger in order for her to take back the throne that is rightfully hers by birth before the evil Queen can bewitch Prince Alcott into marrying her.
Director Tarsem Singh brings his usual control over splendid visuals and wonderous imagery to the table in Mirror, Mirror. It must be said that the sets are spectacular to look at and the costume design is simply breathtaking in its extravagance. Yet visuals and style are not enough to make Mirror, Mirror a film of originality or power. The jaunty tone of the film is something of a double-edged sword; in certain instances the anachronistic approach works excellently and allows for a lot of laughs. But other times it spills over into the realms of juvenile ridiculousness that is just too unbelievable to take seriously. Just like Into the Woods, I didn’t mind the occasional bending of classic stories. As a matter of fact, many of these switch ups where quite enjoyable, particularly making the seven dwarfs bandits. But at times, Mirror, Mirror just strayed too far over the line of keeping it classic but with added twists that are needless. There’s just something missing here that I can’t put my finger on. The same can’t be said about the score which contributes lively glee and carefree spirit to the uneven film.
Thankfully most of the acting can rise above the flaws of the movie and be very enjoyable. Lily Collins possesses the porcelain beauty and winsome charm for Snow White, but manages to give her a plucky attitude later on and show that she is no mere damsel in distress. The character could have easily been the fawning and helpless princess we are used to seeing, but Collins radiates something different with her version of Snow White. Julia Roberts sinks her teeth into her role as the evil Queen, displaying her insecurity and catty remarks to others with the aplomb of a supreme bitch. Roberts is having a great time here and makes the most of the part, at least managing to give the audience something to laugh about during the course of the movie. The standout performance in Mirror, Mirror comes from Armie Hammer. I liked how he didn’t take himself to seriously here and how he gave Prince Alcott a goofball charm, a penchant for walking into trouble and a certain silliness. He is the prince of the narrative, but the fact that he isn’t the main hero and is often quite hapless in a fight was really funny to view. Nathan Lane is suitably hilarious as Brighton, the Queen’s lap dog who often finds himself in over his head but Sean Bean is wasted in the small role as Snow White’s father. I must give compliments to the actors playing the dwarfs as they really do have a great repertoire with each other and help give Mirror, Mirror some charm that it desperately needs.
So all in all, Mirror, Mirror is a visually dazzling and handsomely designed take on a fairy tale. But that’s all it really is, save for some impressive performances and tweaks to the traditional Snow White narrative.