A recurring theme in 21st century cinema is that of remaking classic stories, or in the case of the film, Mirror Mirror, re-imagining. The classic tale of Snow White has lived through several incarnations, spanning generations with the Walt Disney animated film, Snow White, being this fairytale’s most notable version. Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts, is a colorful and modern twist on this classic story.
Mirror Mirror follows the established mythos of the character Snow White (played in Mirror Mirror by Lily Collins) as a beautiful princess with skin as white as... yes, snow. Snow White’s mother dies during childbirth and her father, the King, takes another wife to provide Snow White with a maternal role model. However, the King’s new wife reveals herself as the Evil Queen (played by Academy Award winner, Julia Roberts), a sorceress obsessed with power and beauty.
When the King goes missing on an expedition into the nearby forest, the Queen takes over, effectively destroying the kingdom and sending it into a perpetual chill. All the while, Snow White has grown up as a recluse in one of the towers of the palace. On her 18th birthday, implored by her maids, Snow White goes to see what has become of her kingdom and decides to do everything in her power to restore it to its former glory. To do so, Snow White enlists the aide of the visiting Prince Alcott (played by Armie Hammer), whom the Evil Queen has designs on marrying, and the conflict and adventure of Mirror Mirror is afoot.
Mirror Mirror retains the classic medieval-esque setting that audiences have grown accustomed to with fairytales. However, there is a contemporary spin in Mirror Mirror as it pertains to the film’s dialogue. For example, Julia Roberts’ Evil Queen makes several quips throughout Mirror Mirror on the circumstances that unfold, which are reflective of modern opinions. Admittedly, this act grows tiresome at some point in the film, but Mirror Mirror does manage to rise above the cheesy turn that could easily befall a film of this genre.
An often understated aspect of a film like Mirror Mirror is that of the acting. Julia Roberts adds a nice touch of sarcastic impatience as the Evil Queen. Where in previous versions of the tale of Snow White, the Evil Queen was simply a one dimensional evil caricature, Julia Roberts’ portrayal adds some measure of wicked fun to her villainy. The other performances in Mirror Mirror manage to give the impression that the cast as a whole are enjoying their roles, with solid work across the board. One particular stand-out performance in Mirror Mirror is Nathan Lane’s role as the Queen’s tasked majordomo.
The classic “prince saves the princess” motif is turned on its head in Mirror Mirror with Snow White as the true heroine of this film, and Prince Alcott injected into the story for comic relief. To drive the Snow White theme home with audiences, the Seven Dwarfs are very much a part of Mirror Mirror. However, instead of laborers in a coal mine, these dwarfs are exiles turned thieves. Given their felonious actions, the Seven Dwarfs manage to provide most of the better action scenes throughout Mirror Mirror, which were cleverly orchestrated (think stilts meet pogo sticks).
Despite Mirror Mirror’s dark and gritty take on Snow White, the visual aesthetic in Mirror Mirror is rather colorful. The Queen’s Palace, along with the characters’ costumes, are bright and showy with great attention paid to detail, to illustrate the Evil Queen’s obsession with vanity.
In contrast, to further emphasize the great divide between the corrupt Queen and her impoverished peasantry, the small town that Roberts’ Queen rules over is dark and dreary. As a takeoff on a fairytale, Mirror Mirror bypasses any attempt at an intricate or profound subplot, sticking to the whimsy that audiences expect with fairytales. Mirror Mirror is a safe bet for children, but also a worthy show for adults.
As with many fairytales there exists an original, dark tale and a lighter, more child-friendly version. Mirror Mirror is closer to that of the original, darker story. Mirror Mirror manages to provide some laughs while offering up a worthy take on the classic tale of Snow White.
For those not into the light-hearted fun that Mirror Mirror provides, fear not. For as Hollywood always does everything in twos, the darker, more action-oriented Snow White and the Huntsman will be released later in the year. For everyone else, Mirror Mirror may not be the fairest of them all, but it is an entertaining ride.
“Mirror Mirror” starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Sean Bean & Nathan Lane
Rated R. Runtime 106 min. Theatrical release 3/30/2012.
PR.com Rating: B-