“Mirror Mirror” is the first of two reimaginings of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” we’re getting this year (the other being the upcoming “Snow White and the Huntsman”), as clearly the most complaint film current-viewers have, “There just aren’t enough Snow White movies!”
We start on a positive note: Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen seems to be telling the story from her wry, bitchy perspective. However, this narrative quickly changes for no apparent reason, but hey, let’s get to it.
The queen has ruled the land for the ten years since the king disappeared into the dark forest. Since then, the kingdom and its citizens have become destitute, while the queen and her palace are doing very well.
Then there’s Lily Collins (musician Phil’s daughter) as Snow White. On her 18th birthday, she asks her mother-in-law the Queen for permission to leave the castle, but the jealous monarch does not get it, sending her back to her room. When Snow takes the initiative to leave the castle anyway, she discovers a kingdom in ruins.
So where is the prince? On his way back to the castle, Snow comes across a shirtless Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), hanging upside down after being attacked by seven dwarfs, who are pretty much bandits. The snow knocks the prince down and…they part ways. However, when the prince shows up at the queen’s palace, looking for a shirt and shelter, guess who thinks she’s found herself a new husband? Of course, for his part, the prince keeps thinking about the beautiful young woman he met in the forest.
Without going into too much detail, Snow White is banished from the castle, where she reunites with the seven dwarfs – but they’re not your cute and familiar Doc, Dopey, Sneezy, Grumpy, etc. Instead, it’s Napoleon, Half Pint, Grub, Grimm, Wolf, Butcher, and Chuckles, and they make a shrewd, tough, and sometimes hilarious team. Which is good, because it’s one of the strengths of the film.
What made the idea of ”Mirror Mirror” so compelling in the first place was that it came from director Tarsem Singh, who knows how to create an impressive on-screen aesthetic (see “The Cell” or the more recent ” Immortals”). On the other hand, storytelling isn’t exactly its forte (see “The Cell” or “Immortals”). In the case of “Mirror Mirror,” Singh gives us a safe, whimsical, family-friendly movie that’s kind of adorable but should have been better. His preference for style over substance and aesthetics over performance diminishes Roberts and Collins’ performance, but there’s still a lot to like.
Three out of five stars.