A ten year old would no doubt adore this film, as it is a nice fairy tale of the kind that every little girl loves, with a pretty yet hard done by princess; lots of pretty dresses and bright, vivid colours. There's also a horrible, but not at all ugly stepmother, some funny slapstick comedy, a handsome prince and a happy ever after ending – whoops! Have I given the game away here?!
Julia Roberts plays the evil Queen and wicked stepmother; Lily Collins is the princess Snow White, and Armie Hammer is the handsome Prince Alcott in this new take on the centuries old fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
In this film version Snow, as she becomes known, is imprisoned in the palace by the Queen. On escaping she learns that it isn't just her that the Queen is unpleasant to, as her cruelty spreads throughout the land. She also stumbles on Prince Alcott and his helper, Charles Renbock (Robert Emms), who are tied up in the woods by the ‘giant dwarfs' – and the attraction between prince and princess begins.
Snow then confronts the Queen about the kingdom, resulting in the monarch ordering the her death. The princess escapes to the woods and lives with the seven dwarfs. Meanwhile the Prince forms an unfortunate allegiance with the Queen, which unsurprisingly causes many problems.
The film starts well, with Julia Roberts' delivering a couple of funny lines as we're taken into a magical world of narrated animation, which provides us with the potted history of Snow's and, to a lesser extent, the Queen's, life to date. We're soon thrust into a kingdom crippled by the reign of a cold, wicked, Queen who despises Snow and wants to be in control of everything. Julia Roberts is sometimes highly amusing in this role, but at others she's just plain annoying, trying a little too hard to be funny.
Lily Collins plays the princess role adequately enough, being beautiful, kind, honest, caring and, in this age of the modern woman, a bit of a ‘kick ass' too. The dwarves teach her how to fight with a sword, do acrobatics and ‘duck and dive' too, so that she can defend herself, and presumably them, from any danger and especially from the Queen.
Armie Hammer as The Prince is possibly the most consistent performer of the cast. Hammer acts the role well, even if Prince Alcott isn't necessarily the most likeable of characters, as he swaps his loyalties from the Queen to Snow at the drop of a hat. He comes across as arrogant, foolish and out to get whatever he can, which makes you wonder why Snow is attracted to him – other than the fact he's a prince. He seems better suited to the bitter, vain and horrible Queen.
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The seven dwarfs, played by Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, and Ronald Lee Clark, humorously make a fool of the Prince on two occasions and generally keep us entertained with their fighting, banter, and professions of love for Snow. We're not laughing at them, but WITH them and we feel their pain that the town's people have allowed the Queen's influence to cause their banishment into the cruel woods.
There are at least three surprising twists that update this very old tale. Previously mentioned is the all new kick-ass princess. Another more modern twist is Snow's decision that unlike all the books she'd read while locked up in the palace, she won't allow the Prince (nor the dwarfs) to fight her battles for her. She ill battle alone against the beast which has been tormenting the townsfolk.
There is a little confusion with accents in Mirror Mirror; while some have crisp, upper class English voices, others speak in friendly down- to-earth American accents. It's a small point perhaps – especially as it's set in a fantasy, fairy tale land, but it's a little annoying to the ear nonetheless.
The film ends with a Bollywood type song and dance which, although having its appeal, appears somewhat out of place in the context of the film, and one is left wondering, ‘Where did that come from'?
Mirror Mirror doesn't overly excite me, but then I suppose that it's not aimed at my age group – although these days such films tend to try and work on two levels with appeal for children and adults. That didn't occur here. In fact, it was a little boring for an adult. Admittedly, there are some funny, very clever and unexpected moments, but on the whole it failed to impress.
Overall Verdict: Funny, nice fairy tale if you are a little princess who is into little princesses, but it does little to appeal to an older audience.
Reviewer: Dee Davis