Mirror MirrorDirector: Tarsem Singh Writers: Jason Keller, Marc Klein, Melisa Wallack, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm Cast: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn Original Music: Alan Menken Cinematography: Brendan Galvin
Once upon a time… Hollywood started to re-boot fairy tales in order to give audiences a “fresh” and “original” view of an old familiar story. They have proven time and again to make money (simply look at Disney), so it’s a good bet to green light anything that has to do with a princess. And so two tales following the life of Snow White were being brought to the big screen so that everyone could enjoy them for years to come. The first is a fun and visual tale of a beautiful princess who joins forces with a band of dwarves to fight for her kingdom. The second is a dark and grim look at the story, featuring a Snow White that runs from the fair queen who wants to eat her heart. Now that Mirror Mirror is out on DVD and Snow White and the Huntsman is in theaters, we can compare the two and decide which one is the fairest of them all.
Mirror Mirror premiered March 30, a full three months before the next Snow White tale. It’s box office draw was a mere 62 million for it’s entire run in theaters, while Snow White and the Huntsman made 56.3 million in just it’s opening weekend. But the fact that the Huntsman made more money doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the better movie. A real fan of fairy tales should be able to enjoy both versions, because they both have something to offer. And so, in world far, far, away from our own dull and depressing lives, we begin our story.
This is a tale that we all know and love, with only a few changes. There is still an evil queen who takes over a kingdom and locks away the fair daughter of the king, Snow White. When the princess comes of age she discovers that her people are in ruin, while the queen sits on the throne throwing lavish parties and receiving beauty treatments. Determined to put a stop to this, Snow White is soon forced outside the castle walls. While lost in the woods she finds herself in the company of seven dwarves. The dwarves were once honest men, but are now forced to steal from others using some very cool stilts. Snow White joins forces with the bandits to stop the queen before she marries a rich and handsome prince. Will the princess be able to save her people from the evil queen and her fearsome beast?
The Modern Dialogue
While Kristen Stewart’s Snow White struggles with a British accent, Lily Collins and company don’t try so hard to make it sound serious. Instead the dialogue is more fun and interesting, making it easier to digest for modern audiences. You will find yourself smiling when you hear that the Queen (played by Julia Roberts) ”radiates crazy”. Or when Julia Roberts yells, “for the love of God will someone please get this man a shirt so I can concentrate” when Armie Hammer’s Prince Alcott shows up bare-chested… again. The more modern phrasing helps with the sense of fun and whimsy that the whole movie radiates. The dwarves have some of the best one-liners, which means that they’re more than just a background plot device. The seven little men actually help make the story more entertaining.
The Beautiful Visual World
Tarsem Singh is fast becoming known for his very visual style. His previous work in Immortals was praised for being highly imaginative. When placed in the context of a children’s fairy tale, the stunning imagery turns into a carnival of bright colors and pleasant shapes. It all looks beautiful against the stark background of snow. The costumes on Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman are absolutely gorgeous, with little hints of death in each stitch. But Julia Roberts also looks great in grand ball gowns, and Snow White joins in the fun with some elegant dresses. In my opinion, it’s not the evil queen that needs to be grabbing the attention - it’s the fair princess that should prove how she can be the fairest in the land. And Kristen Stewart’s dress/pant suit doesn’t really stand a chance next to Ravenna’s beauty. So in that respect, Mirror Mirror is the clear winner to give both the Queen and Snow White a chance to shine.
Lily Collin’s certainly looks the part of a pure and sweet Snow White. She hasn’t been tainted by the Twilight series anyway, like Kristen Stewart has. But there are other differences as well. Many have hailed Snow White and the Huntsman for bringing us a princess that will don armor and fight alongside men. But just because she has on battle gear doesn’t mean that she knows how to fight, or how to lead armies. Snow White in Mirror Mirror is actually trained to be a thief by the dwarves, and can cross blades with the prince as well as a fearsome beast. She doesn’t need the prince or a huntsman to save her, instead Snow White ends up risking her life to face the danger alone. So while Kristen Stewart may look the part of a warrior, it’s really Lily Collins that shows us a Snow White who can kick some butt.
I‘ll be the first to admit, the music in Snow White and the Huntsman is amazing. I may be inclined to like it a bit more because I’m absolutely in love with that Florence + the Machine song “Breath of Life”. But the music in Mirror Mirror just doesn’t stand a chance, especially when you see the weird Bollywood-esque musical number at the end of the movie. While I’m impressed that Alan Menken contributed original music for the movie (he’s famous for such Disney classics as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid), it doesn’t really sound like anything else that he’s done. Sure it’s fun and whimsical just like the movie. But it’s no where near as powerful and memorable as Florence.
The Family Friendly Vibe
This isn’t really a bad thing in my opinion, but it is the one big thing that separates the two recent Snow White movies. If you want a fun and entertaining family movie, that doesn’t have any real scares and resolves itself perfectly by the end, then Mirror Mirror is the tale you want. If you’re in the mood for a dark tale with epic battle scenes and the possibility that evil will prevail, then Snow White and the Huntsman is the one you’re looking for. Mirror Mirror doesn’t need a sequel, just like most Disney movies (some of which have sequels but I have so far completely avoided watching any of them). I like a movie that doesn’t leave anything up for speculation, especially if it’s a light and funny tale. But some might want to avoid the “fun for the whole family” vibe that has made Disney so popular. To each his own.
Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5
I enjoyed this movie for it’s family friendly quality and it’s whimsical nature. Mirror Mirror is beautifully done, with a sweet story and some impressive visuals. Is it as emotionally powerful as Snow White and the Huntsman? No, it’s not. Does it make more sense and resolve the plot details? Yes, it does. There’s a cute boy to look at (Armie Hammer), some very funny dwarves (who are a lot better than the shortened “real” actors that Huntsman has), and a lot of fun dialogue. It’s a good movie that you can enjoy with everyone, especially if you’re in the mood for a light hearted tale.
Buy It, Rent It, or Skip It
This is definitely a good movie to rent on a gloomy night. I’m not sure I would pay the extra money to buy it, it’s not something I absolutely need in my collection. If you’re not a fan of fairy tale princesses then I suppose you would skip it altogether. But if you enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman I think you should at least give this story a try. It’s certainly more pleasant to watch Lily Collins on the screen than Kristen Stewart’s bumbling Snow White. Mirror Mirror doesn’t need a huntsman and a bunch of crazy good costumes to carry the movie, instead using an ensemble of colorful players. Rent it and decide for yourself if you want to live happily ever after in the mirror, or wait for the sequel of Snow White and the Huntsman to determine your happiness.