Movie Reviews

‘Mirror Mirror’: What a crack

By Zaki JufriMovies - 04 April 2012 12:00 PM

‘Mirror Mirror’: What a crack

Snow White in her little yellow riding hood

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Stars: Armie Hammer, Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Nathan Lane

The buzz:Mirror Mirror is the first of two big screen adaptation of the Snow White tale. 

The Story:Mirror Mirror is a fresh and funny retelling of the Snow White legend featuring breakout star Lily Collins as Snow White, and Julia Roberts as the evil Queen who ruthlessly rules her captured kingdom.

Seven courageous rebel dwarfs – yes, they’re everywhere lately – join forces with Snow White as she fights to reclaim her birth right and win her Prince in this magical comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.

inSing.com says: The fight to see who is the fairest of them all has begun. In this corner, visual juggernaut Tarsem Singh with his exuberant take on the Grimm’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.

For the longest time (at least when the initial trailers were released), ‘Mirror Mirror’ is going to be the more ‘traditional’ revision of the tale as compared to the ‘other’ Snow White movie that’s coming out in May -- the ‘ugly sister’ of the lot; if we were to borrow a line from the Brothers Grimm. But after watching it on the big screen, ‘Mirror Mirror’ is quite the looker after all.

Showdown to see who's the fairest of them all

Auteur Tarsem Singh again doesn’t shy away from his penchant for extravagant rococo imagery and the fantastical that was evident in his previous outings ‘The Fall,’ ‘The Cell,’ and swords-and-sandals epic ‘Immortals’, but rather than giving us a grim (pardon the pun) movie, Singh went off course and opted for something light-hearted.

‘Mirror Mirror’s’ set-up is pretty straightforward — Snow White (Lily Collins) is the daughter of a benevolent and kind King. When his kingdom is threatened by ‘dark magic’, the King disappears into the forest – leaving Snow in the hands of her stepmother, The Queen (Julia Roberts). Years pass and the kingdom struggles under the oppressive rule of The Queen – until, on Snow White’s eighteenth birthday, the young restless princess (who’s been locked up in the castle all this time) leaves the castle in search of adventure. Outside the castle walls, Snow made some very interesting new ‘pals’, including a Prince (Armie Hammer), seven dwarves, and ‘the beast’ – all of whom provide the motivation for the young lady to retake her kingdom.

Also on inSing: Fairy tales take over the movies

Here comes the interesting bit — screenwriters Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller dumped the familiar fairy tale tropes into a well and gave us some gems from their Golden Goose of a script. The handsome and charming Prince is quite the clumsy oaf (but still handsome and charming), the seven dwarves, though appear to be misanthropes initially are actually personable characters with a grim backstory instead of the cute Disney-fied woodland critters we grew up with. And Collins’ Snow White reminds us more of a modern coming-of-age teenager looking to find herself and not the archetypal damsel-in-distress type of princess. And in case you’re wondering, the titular mirror here is actually a magical portal.

Snow White and the seven dwarves

The movie does get lethargic at times but Wallack’s and Keller’s script pulls out a clever joke out their hat to put the pace back in motion.

Possibly the star of the show is Julia Roberts’ self-absorbed Evil Queen. She fills her role with the right amount of sardonic wit and maleficent that’s difficult to ignore. Even in her wickedest moment, Roberts keeps the mood light and never breaks character — doling out punch line after punch line; making her playful villain character all the more lovable. That said, we think she could have pushed the boundaries a little further.

Despite piling loads of saccharine sweet gunk onto audiences, Lily Collins plays the whole skin-as-white-as-snow part down pat (and gosh, those eyebrows). She gives an earnest performance and comes out tops in a role that balances allure, comedy and strength.

With just the right amount of pomp, fantasy, satire and melodrama, ‘Mirror Mirror’ proves to be an apt retelling of the classic story. It might not be one of Tarsem Singh’s most compelling work or even the most fascinating take on Snow White, but it is a bold one nonetheless.