It’s hard to take a beloved story that everybody loves and try to give it a fresh spin. It takes courage, dedication and some good common sense, but even more than that it requires a good script, and that is the first of many places where “Mirror Mirror” (2012) has gone wrong. It seems there was so much concentration on making the film fun, that they forgot their obligation to make it entertaining.
Instead of showing the story from the view of the helpless princess Snow White (Lily Collins), “Mirror Mirror” turns the wicked Queen Clementianne (Julia Roberts) into a vulnerable, aging women looking for a way to stay on top. Her insecurities have forced her to keep her beautiful step daughter in her room for years. Now that Snow White is eighteen she is becoming more rebellious and sneaks out of the castle and on to the snow covered set… I mean… out of the castle and into the forest. She stumbles upon Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), who was on his way to visit the evil queen before he was ambushed by a group of dwarfs who attack while standing on stilts attached to springs.
Of course, Snow White and Prince Alcott are attracted to each other, and the queen is inexplicably jealous. She has her servant, Brighton (Nathan Lane), take Snow into the woods and feed her to the mysterious monster. When Brighton can’t bring himself to let her die, she stumbles upon the dwarf’s hideaway. She joins their little gang of thieves and together they set out take the kingdom back from the queen.
To say that “Mirror Mirror” took a few missteps would be a serious understatement. There are very few moments in which the film seems to even know which direction it’s heading. Every scene looks fake and unrefined, leaving the audience wishing someone had bothered to use less special effects and more “old school” film techniques. All the outdoor scenes take place in the snow (which is appropriate for a Snow White film), but unfortunately nobody looks cold. You can’t see anyone’s breath, they have no need for coats, and somehow this enchanted forest is the one place in the world that even in winter has no wind.
The goal must have somehow been to give this beloved tale a comic spin. All of Julia Roberts’ lines have a comic spin, and even though she is the only villainous character, we are expected to grow an attachment to her. The convenient part of that is that most people like Julia Roberts, so it’s easy to like her even when she’s evil. The downside is that it is hard to be sympathetic toward the queen and Snow White at the same time. Only one character can come out ahead, but by attempting to have us like both characters, the audience becomes torn.
And why would we want to give this story a comic spin in the first place? When we watch Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) I don’t here many complaints about the lack of comic relief. It didn’t need to be a “funny” story. Snow White should be a sweet romantic story that sweeps the audience out of their seats and into a world filled with the unimaginable. No cheap laughs or cheesy shinning teeth were necessary.
My reasoning for watching “Mirror Mirror” in the first place was because Eiko Ishioka was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The exaggerated fantasy element of this classic story allowed the costumes to be partially overblown and partially that of a period piece. The long regal coat of the prince, the elaborate ball gown worn by Snow White and everything that the queen touched were absolutely breathtaking. The colors were all over the spectrum and left nothing to be desired. In a way it was the perfect combination of Maria Antoinette and Dr. Suess.
I don’t particularly have a problem with the making of an outlandish movie just for fun. However, when given the opportunity to give the Snow White story a live action adaptation that could be memorable, I think “Mirror Mirror” belongs in the ever so seldom category of films I wish I could make disappear.Back to Home for More Reviews