out of Five
Running time: 106
Charming, funny and beautifully designed, this is a hugely enjoyable fairy tale comedy with a witty script and terrific performances from all three leads.
What's it all about?
Directed by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar (aka Tarsem), Mirror Mirror stars Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen, who's charged with raising her heir-to-the-throne stepdaughter Snow White (Lily Collins) after the mysterious disappearance of the King. When handsome Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) arrives on the scene and shows interest in Snow, the Queen is consumed with jealousy and sends her right-hand man Brighton (Nathan Lane) into the forest with orders to ensure that she gets eaten by a mythical beast that lives there.
However, after Brighton takes pity on Snow, she befriends a gang of seven dwarf bandits (Mark Povinelli, Martin Klebba, Sebastian Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn and Ronald Lee Clark), who teach her how to fight and agree to help her take on the Queen. Meanwhile, the Queen schemes to marry Prince Alcott and drugs him with a love potion.
Roberts is clearly enjoying herself as the Wicked Queen, relishing every scene she's in, though there's also a hint of poignancy about her casting because it's impossible to watch the film without realising that, well, that Julia Roberts is getting on a bit. Similarly, Lily Collins (and her astonishing eyebrows) is both feisty and adorable as Snow White and there's strong comic support from both Armie Hammer (essentially out-Brendan Fraser-ing Brendan
Fraser) and the always reliable Nathan Lane. However, the real stars of the film are the seven dwarfs, who have engaging and distinctive personalities and whose constant bickering gives the film a pleasing Time Bandits vibe.
The witty script gets the tone exactly right, with a high strike rate of witty lines and a mix of humour that will appeal to both kids and adults. Thankfully, some of the worst moments from the trailer (“Snow White? S'no way!”) have been removed from the film and the small handful of knowing jokes (in particular a line about focus grouped
endings) work extremely well, in a way that recalls The Princess Bride.
Tarsem's previous films (Immortals, The Fall) have distinguished themselves with jaw-dropping visuals and Mirror Mirror is no exception, boasting gorgeous costumes (courtesy of Eiko Ishioka, who died in January), sumptuous photography (by Brendan Galvin) and stunning production design work from Tom Foden. Happily, this is also Tarsem's most accessible film to date, with the familiar fairy tale story lending itself well to flights of directorial fancy such as the depiction of the Queen's magic mirror world.
Beautifully designed, sharply written and impressively directed, Mirror Mirror is a hugely enjoyable and frequently hilarious fairy tale comedy with terrific performances from a superb comic cast. Highly recommended.
Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White (PG)