In this twist on the classic Snow White story, Snow White (Lily Collins) meets the handsome prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) but the evil Queen (Julia Roberts) has already set her sights on him. To achieve her goal, she rids the palace of Snow White and sets about marrying Alcott. Little does the Queen realise that Snow White forms an alliance in the forest and may be a bigger threat than she first thought.
The onslaught of Snow White films at the moment is a strange one. We have Mirror Mirror this week, and Snow White and the Huntsman at the other end of the summer. Fairy tales do their rounds of being retold and reimagined, but the idea that Snow White can be told twice on screen in one year is an interesting one. If Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark retelling of a troubled story, then Mirror Mirror is it’s camp comedy sister.
Julia Roberts generally plays the straight woman in comedy films, and it is easy to see why. Roberts brings a little sparkle to the role and it is clear that she had a lot of fun swanning around in big dresses and going completely over the top, but the problem is that she is just not funny. There is something endearing about her but all of her ‘funny’ lines just fall flat and she comes off as a wicked Disney villain from the 1940s.
Lily Collins is adequate in the role of Snow White, but she comes off as a little too smug and knowing. The audience never once fears for her safety, and never really believes that she is as innocent as she makes out. That is, when we can drag our focus away from her eyebrows long enough to focus on the action on screen. What is going on there!?
Thankfully, the supporting men save the day. Nathan Lane is on fantastic form as the Queen’s butler Brighton, and it is he that delivers most of the comedic lines for the film, and definitely the ones that get the best laughs. Lane’s comedic timing is brilliant, and his slightly over the top acting makes sure that he stands out from the lavish sets around him. Armie Hammer proves that he is more than a serious actor with his turn as Prince Alcott; he is sweet and definitely charming, and once the love spell is cast on the prince, Hammer runs with the silly premise and makes it his own. He is not quite strong enough to carry a film yet, but he is definitely heading in the right direction. The ladies are miscast and badly written and there is not enough of the men to carry the film.
The film definitely has a strong look, as one would expect from Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, the man who has a different name on every movie, and the director behind Immortals. The film does not go as far as Immortals in sacrificing story for style, but it heavily relies on costumes and sets to keep the audience’s interest. The directing is patchy at best and while there are scenes of brilliance, there are long lulls and uninteresting sequences that cancel out the good stuff.
In all, Mirror Mirror is a campy, overdone fairy tale that relies a little too much on supporting actors to carry the humour and sets and costumes to keep things interesting. There is no doubt that Mirror Mirror looks good, but it really is not that funny.