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“Mirror Mirror” is an enjoyable contemporary interpretation of the classic tale of “Snow White” by the Brothers Grimm, but the film lacks the inspired magic to set it firmly apart from other adaptions of the fairytale.
The film holds true to much of the original “Snow White” storyline with a few modern twists. The Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) is a narcissistic nightmare who orders her butler Brighton (Nathan Lane) to murder the arrestingly beautiful Snow White (Lily Collins) in the hopes that the Queen may be deemed the “fairest of them all.” But, as schemes of evil characters rarely go as planned, Brighton takes pity on the young princess, advising her to run away.
Snow finds a new home with a family of quirky dwarves played by little people – Renbock, Half-Pint, Grimm, Napoleon, Chuckles, Wolf and Butcher. With the support of the dimwitted but warm-hearted dwarves, Snow develops the self-confidence to combat the Evil Queen and vie for the love of the striking Prince Andrew Alcott (Armie Hammer).
In contrast to the Snow White skilled at cooking and cleaning who is rescued by prince charming in the 1930’s Disney version of the film, “Mirror Mirror” represents a more independent and strong-willed Snow. Overall, the strength of female characters within the film is refreshing to watch.
Where the script and acting may be lacking in ingenuity at moments, the costumes and sets are remarkable. Director Tarsem Singh designs a visual experience that never fails to offer something pretty to look at. In agreement with her over-the-top demonic character, the Evil Queen’s garments are equally wicked. Each dress is a study in artistic design, and possibly the laws of physics, as the pleats of her skirts seem to extend further beyond her hips than should be humanly possible. Snow White’s dress is less outrageous, but equally creative. What is notable about Prince Alcott in this manner is not his dress, but rather his lack of dress, as the film comically displays him shirtless on a number of occasions.
The Evil Queen, who viewers will take pleasure in despising, is made somewhat relatable with a talented performance from Julia Roberts. While it can be difficult at times to look past Roberts’ monumental celebrity status, her acting talent allows for the queen to embody a more complex character, rather than a simple, one-sided villain, which consequentially adds depth to the film as a whole.
The underlying morals of the story are wholesome enough, though the film ultimately does not expose any revelatory truths. Greed and vanity ultimately give way for the triumph of bravery, altruism and true beauty as Snow is assumed to inherit the throne with her people’s best interests in mind. Goodness prevails over evil in the end as Snow delightfully disproves the Evil Queen’s prediction that she will do what snow does best, which is “fall.” With such a simple moral framework, the film’s substance lies not in any long-term insights, but in its decent performances and sparkling art direction.
“Mirror Mirror,” although not a masterpiece, is an engaging and charming motion picture that is guaranteed to entertain and will at least provide for a few good laughs.