"It's important to know when you've been beaten. Yes?"
I'll admit, when Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror received decent reviews from critics and audiences alike, my mind was blown. From the trailer, it looked like the silliest garbage ever made. I'd heard the film had witty writing, great acting, Oscar-worthy costumes, and truly beautiful visuals. Boy, why did I listen to these reviews? As you can probably tell already, I hated this film. I'm well aware that this isn't a film made for me - it's made for kids. It's supposed to be a fun, over-the-top family film; a total re-imagining of the classic fairytale of Snow White. Mirror Mirror is completely different from the other Snow White film released this year, Snow White and the Huntsman, with the latter being a superior film. I understand this film isn't for me, but there are so many better fairytale movies you could watch. Snow White and the Huntsman isn't a family movie, I'll admit that, but there's another Snow White adaptation that's perfect for the family - it's called Snow White and the Seven Dwarves!
The Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) has let her kingdom go to wrack and ruin after her husband the King, and Snow White's father disappeared many years ago. Now Snow White (Lily Collins) is becoming a beauty in her own right, a threat to the Queen's plan to marry the rich prince Alcott (Armie Hammer). Angered, the wicked woman orders Snow White to be killed. The Queen's servant Brighton (Nathan Lane) was supposed to murder the young princess in the dark woods but he let her go, and that's where she meets up with the seven dwarves.
Written by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller, the screenplay plays itself on extremely cheesy humour for the entire running time. I respect the film for that - they stuck to their tone. Problem is, the writing isn't that great. I read in a review that the dialogue was smartly written - that's bullshit. The humour here doesn't come from the dialogue, which isn't witty in any way, but from the silly gags the film has going. Mirror Mirror features the most over-the-top moments that will entertain children, but will adults rolling their eyes. Let me give you a few examples - the prince is cast under a spell by the Queen to be act like puppy who is madly in love with her; Brighton is transformed into a cockroach; the Queen bathes herself in disgusting substances to make herself look prettier. I didn't find anything funny about these gags, but I will admit, I am guilty of chuckling a few times at the character of The Prince. There are moments of banter that are good fun between him and Snow White, and while their love story is cliché, it does give the film at least a bit of humour. Also giving a slight bit of joy to the film are the seven dwarves, although I didn't care for them in any way. They still have a mischievous attitude that adds to the humour.
The character of the Evil Queen is what really got under my skin and drove me nuts. She's just not funny in any way, and the writers seemed to have been pushing for her to be the leading comical force. Sadly, her dialogue is just lame, and I ended up cringing rather than laughing out loud. Also, she's not the most effective villain - in Snow White and the Huntsman, the evil queen was a dynamic force of villainy. In Mirror Mirror, she's a bimbo to put it lightly. You get the feeling that she's more bitchy and evil, and the way she lets her kingdom rot away doesn't register a lot to the audience. However, her servant Brighton has moments to shine. From time to time, he will bring amusement to the film. Another character who has been handled in a pretty poor way is the heroine Snow White. At one point in the film, she's supposed to become a leader and warrior for her kingdom - it's not fleshed out enough, and to be honest, the character is extremely insipid. There's no great deal of development, and the idea that she is the 'fairest of them all' doesn't resonate at all.
I feel bad for the actors due to the crap they had to perform. To their credit, each one of them managed to keep a straight face and appeared utterly shameless. Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen annoyed the hell out of me. Roberts dives straight into the role with gusto, but her performance just feels irritating, and the accent she speaks in may be the reason. Lily Collins is a pretty girl, and she certainly looks the part, but makes no attempt to bring anything unique to the role of Snow White. Armie Hammer, who has proven to be an amazing actor in The Social Network, manages to bring slight joy to the film, as he essentially fits the role of the prince. He was really well cast in this, and actually carried most of the scenes with him and Collins present. Also worth mentioning is Nathan Lane, who like Hammer, steals most of his scenes.
I really don't see the big deal with the costumes. Yes, they're amazingly out-there and suit the film's over-the-top tone, but they really didn't register as Oscar-worthy in my opinion. To be honest, they all looked incredibly cheap to me. Same goes with the sets, which all looked small and miniscule. This film looks a like TV-movie, and although Singh is well-known for his visual style, the look of the film isn't the most breathtaking I've seen in this kind of genre. However, cinematographer Brendan Galvin has framed most of his shots incredibly well, with precision and a sharp eye from Singh. The animated opening is impressive, and it was a nice way to introduce the characters we already know. When the film tries to be an action film, it fails dramatically. There are sequences of sword fights and acrobatic stunt-work, and while credit must be given to the performers, none of the action ever registered as exciting or suspenseful. The climax is actually a battle sequence with a monster. Yes, that's correct - Snow White and her companions fight a ridiculous looking monster (which looks incredibly fake), which ends up being dull and joyless. The final scene is a Bollywood musical number, and although I understand Singh is an Indian director, it literally had no place in the film.
Overall, Mirror Mirror is as cheesy, over-the-top, and 'cartoony' as any fairytale movie you could think of. Again, I understand that this film isn't made for guys like me, but there is a far better family movie based off the Snow White story - and I love it. Do yourself a favour and skip Mirror Mirror. If you're looking for a truly sensational re-imagining of the story, go see Snow White and the Huntsman. If you want a family friendly version of the tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is worth a watch. Mirror Mirror is a film I simply can't recommend, even to little kids.