Movie review: ‘Mirror Mirror’ reimagining captures Snow White spirit in whole new storytelling

By Erin Roberts

Oklahoma Daily, U. Oklahoma via UWIRE

Rating: 4/5 stars

Most children grow up watching animated Disney movies, no matter what generation they were born into.

They’re classics, and to deprive a child of them is just a downright crime. For this reason, I don’t know a person alive who doesn’t know the story of Disney’s first animated feature film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Snow White is abandoned in the woods when the queen’s henchman doesn’t have the heart to kill her (nor does he have the stomach to cut out hers), she runs into seven very short men with incredibly descriptive names, she and some forest animals clean the house while the men are whistling at work, the queen feeds her an apple, she “dies,” but the otherwise aloof prince shows up and kisses her, she wakes up, happily ever after.

Pretty basic fairy tale stuff, not easily retold in a way that makes it any different. So when I took my seat in the theater to see “Mirror Mirror” this weekend, I knew they were going to have to come up with something original. And boy, did they.

“Mirror Mirror” doesn’t require much of a recap since everyone already knows the basic premise and set of characters, but I’ll go over a few of the differences.

An evil queen controls a kingdom, which in this case Snow White is the rightful princess of, and in this version, the queen is taxing the people to death. With the help of seven dwarves and a delightfully attractive prince, Snow White seeks to take back her kingdom and defeat the queen’s magical beast that haunts the forest.

The film has a star-studded cast, including Lily Collins (“The Blind Side”), Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”), Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) and Nathan Lane (“The Producers”).

Since I was a young girl, movies have become more and more disenchanted with the idea of the prince saving the day.

So it comes as no surprise, then, that this re-working of the Snow White tale focuses less on the ivory-skinned beauty’s housekeeping skills and more on her sword fighting and advocacy. What this amounts to is a film that really looks nothing like the the Grimm brothers’ classic.

Rather, it should be considered and critiqued as an original story in itself. While there are still some familiar elements like the talking mirror and the seven dwarves, the similarities basically stop there.

The infamous apple doesn’t even make an appearance until the last five minutes, and even then it is dismissed almost immediately.

“Mirror Mirror” goes in a completely different direction with a story about a courageous young princess who is both an interesting and entertaining adventure. While it does move a little slow in places, the script is well written and includes more than a few laughs.

The most notable performance in this film is by Roberts as the evil queen. She commands the screen as the controlling but still humorous monarch and is supported by her hilarious servant Brighton (Lane). Collins graces the screen with her beauty, and though she doesn’t get many opportunities to showcase any real dramatic chops, she is impressive in the film’s many sword-fighting scenes.

The most surprising performance comes from Armie Hammer, whom I have only seen in highly dramatic roles up to this point. Here, Hammer has the opportunity to show off his comedy skills, which he seems to have a great deal of. Many of his jokes work incredibly well due to his impressive skill in physical comedy.

The only performances that were relatively disappointing were by a few of the dwarves, who, try as they might, just couldn’t deliver the quirky and silly lines given to them in the script in a way that would guarantee a laugh.

Too many times the jokes delivered by dwarves were met with silence in the theater, and their performances were greatly overpowered by those of Roberts, Lane, and Hammer.

While this film would be nothing without its original script and strong performances, what I found most impressive were its stunning visuals.

The costumes, sets and computer animation all contributed to a beautiful picture that includes many frames that, frankly, I would like to blow up and hang on my wall as art.

What this film does best, though it does other things well, is undoubtedly creating a beautifully styled magical world fit for the legend of “Snow White.”

In the end, I admit I was surprised by this film. I could see from the previews it wouldn’t be exactly the Snow White legend I knew, but the script was so original that I began to think of it as a new independent story that is strong on its own. I’d recommend this film to anyone who loves the Snow White classic.

The pretty dresses and the love story will keep the girls happy, the sword fighting and physical gags will be appreciated by the boys, and anyone can be entertained by the strong acting and gorgeous pictures presented.

Read more here: http://oudaily.com/news/2012/apr/02/mirror-mirror-wall-movie-good-all/
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