The trailers certainly made it seem like Mirror Mirror would be terrible. After my disappointment with director Tarsem′s last film, Immortals, my hopes weren’t exactly high going into the theatre for this, his new movie. Maybe low expectations had something to do with my opinion, but I actually enjoyed Mirror Mirror.
Now there is definitely lots of stuff in Mirror Mirror to not like. This being said, there is one thing about this movie that almost makes the weaker parts irrelevant. Everyone involved in the film, from Tarsem, to the actors, to whomever worked on the cg effects, embraced the type of movie they were involved in. What I mean is, no one is trying to reinvent the wheel here. This is a fairy tale/story book movie that’s main purpose is to appeal to children on the most basic level. While the movie at times strays into Shrek comedy territory (thankfully there aren’t any pop culture references) by using comedy that is the equivalent of winking at the audience, the majority of the film relies on rather simplistic humour. I actually dug the jokes in the film, and judging by the sounds of children laughing in the theatre, little kids will appreciate the jokes even more than I did. There isn’t really any toilet humour, or adult specific jokes in the film, which is nice to see in a modern family movie.
Most of the humour that went over well with the audience today, came from the actors who play the seven dwarfs. Instead of being miners, the dwarfs are bandits, and I couldn’t help but think that this gang is definitely more inspired by Gilliam′s Time Bandits, than the original Snow White fairy tale. There is no Sleepy or Dopey in this gang, instead there are characters like Half-Pint and Wolf (American Gladiators anyone?). Visually the gang gets a very interesting introduction, and the way that the gang is portrayed is by far the best part of this movie. Of all the actors that make up the gang, I was happiest to see Jordan Prentice (aka Howard the Duck) appear as the character Napoleon. He is great in the movie In Bruges, and here he is also very good. Actually I think that most of the supporting actors in the film are quite good. Nathan Lane shows up as the queen’s assistant, and he gives his all in the role. Definitely it is the supporting actors that contribute the most to my liking of Mirror Mirror, as I wasn′t overly impressed with any of the leads.
I am not a fan of Julia Roberts, and so it was pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t like her as the Evil Queen in this. I always feel that she does the same thing in every role, and here is no exception. The only real difference is that she is playing an unlikeable character. I do however like what is done with the character of the queen. She isn’t exactly evil, so much as she is a Real Housewife. The stuff she does is bad, but she isn’t in anyway frightening. I thought this choice of how her character acts was wise for this type of film. Lily Collins plays the title role of Snow White, and she plays it decently enough. This is not a complex character, and like all current popular female heroes (Katniss in Hunger Games, Bella in Twilight), Snow White is basically one note. Collins is charming enough as Snow White though, and thus it works in context of the film. The same can be said about Armie Hammer in the role of the Prince. Hammer isn’t amazing, but in the context of the film, it works.
Tarsem is a director with a unique visual style. When he brings the thunder, like in his film The Fall, his work is incredible to behold. I would describe his style as grand minimalism, because his sets and locations are almost always very plain, but grand in scope none the less. I didn’t think this grand minimalism worked in Immortals, but it works in Mirror Mirror. There really are only three locations in the film (palace, town, forest), but these locations are revisited multiple times, and some interesting stuff is done in all three places. The most memorable scenes take place in the forest, these being a fight scene between Snow, and the Prince, and a rather interesting marionette set piece at the gang of seven’s hideout. I do have to note though, Tarsem is guilty of doing the weird hair, and crazy colour thing that I criticized in The Hunger Games last week. Though it is only a couple characters who have weird coloured hair in this, and there barely even in the film, I still thought it sucked. That being said, most of the costumes are fantastic throughout the film.
Mirror Mirror is the equivalent of eating cotton candy with fist fulls of pure cane sugar as a chaser. It isn’t exactly something that is going to stay with me, or even be something that I will want to revisit, but for its run time, it was enjoyable enough to indulge in.