Mirror Mirror (2012)

Having bankrupted her kingdom with a proclivity for lavish self-celebrating parties, Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts) raises taxes once more in an attempt to woo Prince Andrew Alcott (Armie Hammer) at an upcoming ball. When he instead falls for the swan-dressed Snow White (Lily Collins), the Queen orders her right hand man (Nathan Lane) to dispose of the competition, leaving nothing to chance with a vial of love potion. Left alive when her would-be murderer is scared away by the sounds of the forest, Snow takes shelter in the dwellings of a seven-strong team of bandits. Scared for her people and love-sick for her prince, she leads the dwarves into battle with the aim of disrupting the wedding and overthrowing the Queen.

2012 is one big battle to be the fairest of them all, not just between Queen and country-women, but now also between competing Snow Whites, too. While the big money was always on Rupert Sanders’ battlesome epic, I never really saw past the Twilight-come-Lord of the Rings cynicism of Snow White and the Huntsman. Just as Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland had once forced a battle sequence into a fairytale to jarring effect, so too does an armour-clad Kristen Stewart seem an awkward addition to this particular Grimm classic. Mirror Mirror, meanwhile, endeavoured to revamp the original story, replete with one dimensional dwarves and charming princes; only with Tarsem Singh’s eye for visual poetry to give it a character all of its own.

Mirror Mirror is quite simply sumptuous, it’s visual flourishes and traditional mindset setting it immediately apart from Sanders’ would-be humourless and battle-hardened take on what was once a Disney mainstay. The set design, wardrobe and screen compositions are nothing short of astounding throughout, a perfect fit for the kitsch humour and sugary characterisation. Roberts attacks her role as Queen Clementianna with fervour and glee, painting a picture of egocenticity and aloof mirth that’s complemented beautifully by Singh’s unabashed brand of storytelling. With Nathan Lane by her side, the duo make for a winning double team, their incompetent antagonism an absolute joy to watch.

Meanwhile, in the beast-bothered forest, the seven dwarves appear to have dropped the trailer’s utterly atrocious Snow White puns in favour of a scattering of less annoying character affectations. Dropping their Disney-ready monikers for the decidedly more inspired likes of Grimm, Half-Pint and Napoleon, the dwarves radiate the same camp exuberance with which the rest of the movie soars. Whether they’re robbing from the rich to keep for themselves or bickering over dinner, there is never a dull moment in their company, their small stature at odds with their booming personality.

If there is a weak link it is unfortunately Lily Collins as Snow White, though this is more down to the nature of the character itself than it is to Collins’ performance. Indeed, in scenes set alongside the delightful Armie Hammer in the Prince Charming role, Collins proves every bit as sweet and innocent as you’d expect the character to be. The film’s biggest failings lie elsewhere, outside of the impressive ensemble. The script, while peppered with wit and invention (“No! You can’t change the ending. The old one works. It’s been focus-grouped”) is often lacking. Furthermore, the ending that the dwarves speak of is rightfully challenged, for the decision to exile Roberts in a room with only herself for company during the film’s finale verges on lunacy, the battle between our heroes and a hokey special effect devoid of the satisfaction the story demands.

While Mirror Mirror is far from perfect, then, it does mark both a particular high point in Singh’s career – this, in my opinion, is the first time he has successfully married his eye for a striking image with an involving story and characters you can care for – and a long-overdue triumph in the recent fairytale resurgence. Rather than retrofitting the story with stock battle sequences, Kristen Stewart or 3D, Mirror Mirror instead treats the original fable with the reverence and creativity that it deserves, birthing in the process a new fairytale worthy of both children and adults everywhere.

About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to Mirror Mirror (2012)

  1. Pingback: April 2012 – I have a plan: attack! « popcornaddict

  2. Pingback: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) « popcornaddict

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