The level of acting prowess appearing in Mirror Mirror should have guaranteed a “happily ever after” for the fate of this movie. Unfortunately, though, even Julia Roberts couldn’t save the awkward overall feel to this frivolous family film. Though visually, the effects of the color contrasts and lovely scenery were captivating enough to entertain throughout the whole of the movie.
The plot hardly needs re-telling. Snow White (Lilly Collins) is a beauty and her evil step-mother is power hungry and insanely jealous. The “twist” of this film is that Snow White doesn’t take her step-mother’s ruination of the kingdom lying down. She learns to fight and thieve with the dwarves and eventually take back her throne by saving herself, though with the help of her ever-so-handsome prince (Armie Hammer – yeah, I laughed at his name too.)
One of the fundamental problems with the film was forcing Julia Roberts into the role of an evil queen. Come now – she’s Pretty Woman. She’s Runaway Bride. She’s America’s Sweetheart. And though her acting was really as on-par as ever, it was still impossible to feel the malice from her necessary for such a role. Even though she was great within the comedic context of the film, there was still just something missing.
Lily Collins, on the other hand, was a well-placed fit for her role as Snow White. She seemed to grow into her character as her character grew into her role as the heroine of the story. Armie Hammer was also dashingly fit for his role as the prince. And though the writing itself was often flawed and filled with holes, for the most part the actors were able to pull off the dialogue in a way that made it amusing if nothing else.
Generally speaking, the film didn’t seem integrated in tone. For example, the tone of the humor ranged from a mocking of English snobbery to cheesy slapstick gags. It was almost as if the makers of this film couldn’t quite decide how it should feel, so they shoved a bunch of different elements under the one umbrella of a well-known plot. Perhaps the most jarring instance was at the very end. While we often see such fairy tale movies ending with a song and dance routine (Ella Enchanted, Shrek) this one abruptly switched cultural references from mock-medieval to modern Bollywood. This was clearly in reference to the Indian heritage of Tarsem Singh, but still utterly misplaced.
But to switch focus to the positive, this film does paint a pretty picture. The color schemes posing bright reds and yellows against pale grey backgrounds made for a fairy tale feel and set a tone in and of itself almost well-played enough to save the overall feel – but not quite.
Some witty fractioned fairy tale movies are fun for the whole family because they are packed with layers of plot and humor that adults can enjoy on a completely different level from their kids. This was not that kind of movie. It was a good opportunity for parents to entertain their children, but don’t expect anything more than that.