Coming just in time to mix with another retelling of the same fairy tale, Mirror Mirror manages to bring family entertainment to a whole other level. Julia Roberts shines as the Snow White’s wicked witch of a stepmother.
Directed by Tarsem Singh (who brings his unique color palate and style to the screen), this movie really pops on the Blu-ray format. Colors sing and singe. The different styles of clothing and costumes blend as well as the blends the genres of adventure, comedy, and fantasy. Everything seams together and meshes so well you almost don’t see the separate parts: part medieval, part fairy tale, part oriental.
To mix so many elements and different genres might make a bit of a mess, and as a director, I would hesitate to use so much at once, and it doesn’t always work. In this case, it paid off beautifully. Singh eye for color and style is pure genius.
Narrated by Roberts as the Queen, the movie starts to tell her side of things as they were, but the audience quickly sides with Snow White. Roberts brings humor and quirkiness to the screen in the form of a queen who is afraid to age and be usurped by a younger, prettier Snow White. Enhanced by Singh’s vision of golds and yellows, she captures the movie and holds it there in her grip.
Lily Collins plays Snow White, a victim of the Queen’s cruelty. She manages to escape and in a fresh take on the tale that I think worked really well, she ends up in the forest and meets the seven dwarves. As one dwarf explains, robbing is easier than mining, and the audience quickly learns that the dwarves have reasons of their own for what they do.
But don’t expect Dopey, Sleepy, and Grumpy, for these dwarves hop around in samurai fashion and with a little magical help, they become very tall beings on jumping stilts. They rob coaches on the way to the castle and one of the persons they rob is Prince Alcott (played with grand finesse by Armie Hammer), who is on his way to make his acquaintance with the Queen (and perhaps marry her).
The Prince shows up almost naked, which provides some funny moments, as the Queen tells someone, anyone to get this man a shirt. He meets Snow White at a masquerade ball the Queen has in his honor, and of course he is intrigued by her mysterious presence.
The Queen doesn’t allow Snow White to attend balls or parties and is very angry when she finds out Snow White has disobeyed her. Snow White manages to escape the castle and flee into the forest and escapes the Queens wrath, for the time being.
The Queen orders her very over-worked assistant and man servant Brighton (played with wonderful sniveling cowardice and humility by Nathan Lane) to go into the forest and kill her. Of course being the coward he is, Brighton makes a mess of murdering Snow White. At one point in the film, the Queen turns him into a cockroach and you just have to feel sorry for poor Brighton.
Through the years she has reigned, the Queen has made use of the Magic Mirror, which is also a fresh take on the tale. The mirror is almost like a split personality that she steps into, and it takes her across a bridge and into a hut-like structure where she confronts her insecurities and argues with herself. The mirror tells her that all magic has a price for the user, which I liked, and Freud or someone or equal therapeutic tendencies could certainly psycho-analyze the Queen’s motives.
She will do whatever it takes to stay young, but more importantly, to stay in control. And by being in control, she keeps her kingdom in a constant state of fear and loathing. She taxes the villagers to the point of starvation to pay for her parties, thus the need to marry again into money. She is not a likeable person, the Queen, but it is so much fun to watch Julia Roberts play her to the hilt.
This is family entertainment at its finest. Eye popping colors, great costumes, beautiful scenery, a sense of good versus evil, and, of course, the love story between the Prince and Snow White. I high recommend this movie to children of all ages and anyone who likes a good fairy tale or a fresh take on one.
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