If the early bird gets the worm, Mirror Mirror hopes to be the victor in the battle of Snow Whites. It’s the first of two new live-action versions of the classic fairy tale to be released this year (the other is Snow White and the Huntsman, with Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron).
Some smart casting decisions help make Mirror Mirror more fun than it may have otherwise been. Lily Collins (daughter of singer Phil) immediately grabs you with her (distractingly) dark, thick eyebrows, porcelain skin and ruby red lips as she plays Snow White, the Fairest of Them All. While Julia Roberts isn’t exactly my idea of a wicked queen, she seemed to have a good time playing the part. Instead of being horribly evil, she’s more of a sarcastic queen, especially during the cheeky delivery of her opening monologue.
So as the story goes, the evil Queen hates her 18-year-old stepdaughter, Snow White, and goes to great lengths to keep her hidden away. Snow’s dad, the King (Sean Bean), has long since vanished without a trace, and the Queen’s fortune is quickly diminishing. In wanders a charming prince (Armie Hammer) after an unfortunate run-in with some “giants,” and the Queen makes it her goal to marry him.
Prince Charming has already set his sights on the beautiful princess Snow White, who has been banished to the forest by the Queen and her faithful servant Brighton (Nathan Lane). Snow is taken in by a band of dwarves who help her see that she can save her country from the Queen (Girl Power, anyone?). After some swashbuckling lessons (insert standard movie training montage here), she’s ready to go to battle.
As the prince, Armie Hammer (The Social Network) is unfortunately rather wimpy. He needs to be rescued by Snow White multiple times (shouldn’t it be the other way around?). At one point, he’s even under a spell that makes him behave like a puppy dog (funny, but emasculating).
The biggest change to the classic fairy tale everyone knows is with the seven dwarves. Gone are the happy dwarves who whistle while they work in the mines. These dwarves not only have different names, but a different occupation. They are now stilt-wearing thieves who steal from the rich.
While I can rattle off “Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, Doc” in a single breath (I once won “Disney On Ice” tickets for knowing this bit of useless trivia), I struggle to even remember the names or any personality traits of the new guys in Mirror Mirror. They had some chuckle-worthy moments, but apparently not enough for me.
Director Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Cell) nicely keeps the movie visually appealing with bright colors, elaborate sets and lovely, lavish costumes. This gives the movie an upbeat feeling, even if it’s difficult to stay completely engaged in the plot.
Mirror Mirror is pleasant enough, with some clever moments, but overall it’s a mostly predictable tale with a few story revisions that aren’t particularly compelling or memorable. It’s geared toward families, especially ones with younger girls, so I wouldn’t go expecting some dark tale. ••
Movie Grade: B-EndFragment