Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mirror Mirror Movie Review

One of the most beloved stories of all time is coming to life in the motion picture fantasy, Mirror Mirror.  A fresh and funny retelling of the Snow White legend, Mirror Mirror features breakout star Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Snow White, a princess in exile, and Oscar-winner Julia Roberts as the evil Queen who ruthlessly rules her captured kingdom.  Seven courageous rebel dwarfs join forces with Snow White as she fights to reclaim her birthright and win her Prince in this magical adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance and betrayal that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.  The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the Prince and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Tarsem Singh brings a feisty new Snow White for a new generation that focuses on female derring-do and an abundance of humor that skews young and old.  In this version of Snow White, Snow (Lily Collins, daughter of Phil Collins) grows up as a shut-in thanks to her evil stepmother the Queen (Julia Roberts) who doesn’t want the fair Snow to detract from her own charms.  Snow’s father, the King (Sean Bean), has been missing for years after venturing into the dark forest in search of an evil encroaching on the land.  With the King out of the way, the imperious Queen has taken over the kingdom and rules it with an iron fist.  When she isn’t having someone executed for displeasing her, she enjoys playing human chess (the chess pieces are her subjects) and throwing lavish balls.  Unfortunately, all of that is apparently expensive since she’s bankrupted the kingdom.
Young Snow is now eighteen and curious about the world and the opposite sex.  When a party is thrown at the palace, which happens to be Snow’s birthday, she sneaks down to check it out and is caught and threatened by the Queen.  The palace servants are much nicer to Snow and they throw her a surprise birthday party where she discovers just how bad off the villagers of the kingdom really are thanks to the taxes imposed on them by the greedy Queen.  Snow ventures out of the palace for the first time since her father’s disappearance to see just how much suffering actually exists and learns that the people are starving.  During her trip, Snow runs into two men hanging upside down from a tree who have been robbed of their belongings and most of their clothes by seven bandits.  One of the men is Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) although he doesn’t tell her that at first.
At the palace, the Queen appreciates the Prince’s body and reported wealth and she makes plans to marry him right away without bothering to wait to see if he’s interested.  She begins plotting with her magic mirror (who in this version is her alter ego) and her main servant Brighton (Nathan Lane).  First up, she decides that she needs to eliminate Snow as a rival for the Prince’s affections, since they got too friendly during the palace ball.  The Queen orders Brighton to kill Snow and he ends up playing the traditional role of the huntsman who lets  Snow White get away and brings back an animal’s heart (and in this movie other assorted internal organs).  Soon enough, Snow runs into the same seven bandits that robbed the Prince.  The seven bandits end up being the seven dwarves of the tale although there’s no Dopey or Doc in this group since they are much different than the Disney version’s.  Although their personalities have changed, each dwarf has a distinct personality or quirk that sets him apart from the others. These dwarves have started robbing others since the Queen deemed them unsightly and they were driven away.
They agree to help Snow fight the Queen after Snow returns the gold taken from the villagers and tells the villagers that it was recovered by the dwarves which makes the outcasts heroes among the people.  Back at the palace, the Queen has slipped a love potion into the Prince’s drink which is intended to make him fall in love with her and marry her without question, but instead of the usual love potion, she mistakenly gives him a puppy love potion which adds a new level of silliness to the movie when the Prince starts fetching and panting like a dog.   Despite essentially being a dog now, her ultimate aim of marriage is still possible unless Snow White and her seven dwarves can stop the wedding in time and restore the kingdom back to how it was before the Queen’s dominion.
Mirror Mirror is a light, fun, and movie that coasts along on the strength of the lavish set designs and the charisma of it’s stars.  Tarsem Singh has a reputation as a visual stylist that’s been evident from his past movies like The Cell andThe Fall, but this time he uses his skill on a much more lighthearted movie than his usual fare to great effect.  From the late Eiko Ishioka’s gorgeous costumes to Tom Foden’s fantastic production design, this movie looks amazing. Not only do each of their efforts stand alone, but the movie also blends the crew’s talents well, as we see when The Queen’s regal dress blends right in with the throne she is sitting on.  The cast is more than game for this movie too with Julia Roberts obviously relishing the chance to play an over the top villain. 
Lily Collins is also fine as a modernized Snow White, while Armie Hammer takes what is usually the thankless role of the hunky Prince and balanced the action skills and the silliness required for his character well.  Another strong element of the movie is the well known scene-stealer Nathan Lane as the put upon servant.  He adds a lot of humor to the movie and delivers most of the movie’s laughs.   This is one of those movies that tries to appeal to the widest demographic possible, which usually results in an uneven film that doesn’t interest anyone.  Mirror Mirror manages to walk that tightrope for the most part, as there’s adult humor and juvenile humor throughout and it works most of the time.  I would have liked the movie even more if it had left out some of the sillier aspects such as the puppy love potion that takes up too much time, but overall I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I thought I would.

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