Based on the Grimm fairytale Snow White, Mirror Mirror is an uninspiring and unoriginal 2012 retelling starring Lilly Collins as Snow White and Julie Roberts as the Wicked Queen. The story differs slightly from the original fairytale in that it makes Snow more of a feminist hero in keeping with modern studio tastes. Otherwise it is fairly similar to the story that everyone knows. The film came out just a couple of months before another disastrous retelling of the same story, Snow White and the Huntsman and although I didn’t hate this version as much I certainly didn’t like it.
The best thing that Mirror Mirror has going for it are its lavish costumes and indeed the film has now been nominated for an Academy Award in that category joining the likes of W.E. and Transformers: Dark of the Moon as unlikely and infuriating recent recipients of Oscar nominations in technical categories. Mirror Mirror attempts a lighter tone than Huntsman but the comedy failed to raise a smile from my jaded face. The film is in the end an overly expensive rehashing of a story which has been told better in the past.
The script and dialogue are absolutely dreadful. This may be a personal problem but I always struggle with American accents in fairytales. This is especially the case when they are modern accents. No attempt is made to create the illusion that this is set far, far away or long, long ago etc. Instead it feels like a group of high school kids are putting on a production with the help of a local set building billionaire. Lines like ‘we need your tax dollars’ just don’t sit right in this type of world. The script is also unnecessarily long but goes into no more depth or detail that Disney’s 1937, 83 minute animated version which despite numerous attempts has yet to be bettered.
The sets are lavish and large but the world outside feels incredibly fake and just like a large soundstage. The ground is constantly covered with snow but it must be summer snow as no one feels the need to wear a coat or wrap up against the elements. The costumes though are spectacular and deserve praise. I just wish the praise didn’t have to come in the form of an Oscar nomination because from now until the end of time Mirror Mirror will be known as an Oscar nominated picture and this sounds awful. On the acting front Julia Roberts seems to be having fun with a portrayal that is slightly less evil and more insecure than other adaptations. She is probably the best thing in the film. Lilly Collins has a striking look but no screen presence and her snow white skin melts into the snow white background. Considering Snow is meant to be essentially playing the role of the Prince she is quite ineffectual and lacks authority and charisma. Armie Hammer has charisma to spare but is wasted with a drastically reduced roll due to the feminist angle. The dwarfs are all pretty annoying but some of them have the odd good line. The special effects and direction used to make them giants looked really poor and the fight scenes in general were poorly choreographed.
Snow White and the Huntsman was a bad movie but at least it made me angry and created an emotional response. Mirror Mirror just washed over me. There’s nothing to it. There is no originality, no drive, nothing. It also cost an estimated $85-100m to produce. Just think about how many great movies could have been made for that money instead of this waste of multiplex screen space filler. Also the Bollywood dancing post credits scene pissed me off.