The big pieces of Snow White are here in Mirror, Mirror; Evil Queen, Seven Dwarves, charming Prince, but the similarities don’t carry on much beyond there. Tarsem’s visuals give the story a fresh coat of paint and the new twists to the story provide fun wrinkles to keep you on your toes. The film is family friendly to the fullest and features a great cast that is game for the fun and the movie is all the better for it.
The film succeeds for most of the runtime, but there were a couple of slow spots throughout. Julia Roberts plays the Evil Queen and while she does a good job I found her elements of the story the least compelling.
She is surrounded by beautiful sets, costumes, and the always great Nathan Lane, but everything doesn’t always click with her. The third act in particular gets off to a rough start as we spend a bit too much time watching the queen set her plans in motion. There is also a Mirror World that the queen uses that seems a bit unnecessary but it at least looks kind of cool; Tarsem letting his imagination getting the best of him.
What did work really well is the Dwarves, the Prince, and, for the most part, Snow White. Lily Collins plays Snow White and I feel like some people might be rubbed the wrong way by her performance. She plays the part a bit flighty and light, similar to the Disney princess, but gives the character some real heart and guts to keep the character from being just surface/superficial. The character’s arc, well everyone’s arc, are a bit rushed/easy, but I can forgive that to an extent as the film is setting out to be a simple and enjoyable fairytale. Collins also does a nice job at selling the big moments when she needs to and handles the action just fine as well.
The Dwarves are also a really enjoyable lot that have seven distinct personalities and provide a majority of the film’s laughs. The spin on making them bandits and disguising themselves as giants is a clever and cool visual effect to make them far more interesting than dim witted miners. Armie Hammer stars as the charming Prince and he thankfully proves his breakout performance in The Social Network was no fluke. Hamming it up and having a blast in the role, Hammer is about as pitch perfect as you could ask for in the part. He has a fine chemistry with both Collins and Roberts and he isn’t afraid to be as silly as the part demands him to be; the film is all the better for it.
The film is quite beautiful, to be expected from Tarsem, though it is by far his least epic and visually interesting film in his filmography. Tarsem fills his films with weird and creative imagery, things we have never seen before, Mirror Mirror doesn’t quite fit that bill. That isn’t to say the film doesn’t have some stunning and interesting visuals, it just never strays into the levels of weird and bizarre that his previous film’s do; the target demographic is surely the reason for this. Tarsem’s ability to adapt to his subject matter is impressive and he doesn’t seem creatively stifled by aiming for the younger audiences and the director’s past shouldn’t have one the material won’t be suitable for young ones.
In the end, Mirror, Mirror is a fine fairy tale that works on creative, visual, and storytelling levels. The film blazes its own path and still feels like the Snow White fable enough to validate the connection. Featuring strong performances and great visuals there is a lot to like in Mirror, Mirror as it more than makes up for its few shortcomings along the way. A modern feeling fairytale with enough heart and story for all ages to enjoy, Mirror, Mirror is an easy recommendation for families and fantasy fans out there.
Mirror, Mirror is a B-