|Still trying to find the fairest of them all|
Mirror Mirror is a re-hash of the familiar fairytale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (feels like it's not PC to say that). This time Snow White (Lily Collins) is an orphan princess locked in the highest room in the tallest tower (yes, really), she is the rightful ruler of her kingdom but her wicked stepmother (Julia Roberts) is one hell of a vain, evil queen. A charming prince rocks up (Armie Hammer) and in a series of strange plot twists ends up not really saving the day.
Director Tarsem Singh has created a beautiful, fantasical world for this fairytale but there's a real clash when he tries to decide its genre. It's not weird enough for fantasy, not funny enough for comedy (though there are some feeble attempts) and it's not emotional enough for tweenie romance. So what is it? Some horrible mish-mash in between.
I get it, it's a kids film and the plot does jog on at a pleasing, predictable pace with a mix of action, romance and 'comedy' to keep boys and girls interested throughout the 90 minutes. There's some mis-en-scene stolen from the mind of Tim Burton, costumes that nod to the outlandish outfits of the Panem Capital, and some beautifully shot woodland scenes which seem like a Disney version of Game of Thrones. Everything has a convincing layer of 'fake' about it, the snow, the makeup, but sadly, also the performances.
Snow White is annoying. You'd be forgiven for expecting at any moment for a cartoon blue bird to land on her shoulder. Her movements are choreographed carefully to be like a true Disney princess and her voice so saccharine I got toothache. This is intended to be tongue in cheek as the queen makes several references to how irritating she is, yet sadly Collins is a vase - lovely to look at but pretty blank on the inside. So when Snow White gets all bad-ass half way through the film it's too far a leap of faith for the audience to take - it's just not believable, even in a such an obvious fantasy world. It's a pity too, as like with Snow White and the Huntsman, there was a chance to hop on the feminist band wagon and create a sassy hero from an insipid, beautiful zero. Blink and you'll miss the 'comedy' when she asks the prince not to rescue her 'but it's been focus grouped and it works' and sadly, in this case it would have done.
However. All of this was forgiven when 'No Beard, No Sword, No Bean' Sean Bean turns up with a beard and a beard (it must be in his contract) as the benevolent, dispossessed King. This gruff northern star races through his five minutes of dialogue to round up this fairytale in a very predicable ending... well is it. There is one surprise up Singh's sleeve. A Bollywood ending which comes out of nowhere! No-one was more surprised that Sean Bean who stands awkwardly in the background while the whole cast chant 'love' and shimmy around him. Genius.